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Buying and Planting Roses

Buying Your Rose
Your roses can be bought either in containers or bare-rooted. Bare-rooted roses are sometimes sold by mail order nurseries - the lack of soil keeps down the weight and therefore the cost. Unlike containerised roses, which can be planted throughout the year, it is best to buy and plant bare-rooted rose either in mid April or mid September.


The best way to buy roses is as pot plants, normally in 3 to 4 litre pots. They are more healthy and will transplant more easily at any time of the year.

Examine the rose's top and bottom. First, ease the plant out of the container and examine the root ball. There should be fine white roots around the edge of the soil. Do not buy plants where the roots have grown through the container into the soil below. 

Examine the body of the plant. The leaves should be healthy-looking with no black blotches (black spot) on them. The foliage should also be free of black and white fly.

Make sure the size of the plant is roughly one and a half to two times the height of the pot. If it is any larger, reject the plant because it has been in the pot too long and may be root-bound. The soil should be moist rather than dry.

How to Plant Roses
Roses prefer a site in full sun, but will be successful in partial shade, especially if the shade is during the afternoon. The best soil will be free-draining, slightly acid and medium in texture - neither sandy nor clayey. If your soil is not ideal, improve it by digging in lots of organic material. Aim for the best soil, but remember that roses are tolerant plants.  The best planting time is mid April or midSeptember. Don't plant roses where other roses have grown in the last three years - this will greatly increase the risk of 'Rose Sickness'.

Prepare the soil by digging it well to at least a spade and half's depth - more if you have the energy. During digging, sprinkle the soil with a good amount of rose fertiliser or general purpose fertiliser. Leave the soil for four weeks before planting in order to let it consolidate.

Planting container-grown roses is simple if the soil has been prepared. Simply dig out a hole a little wider than the root ball, remove the plant from the container and place the plant into the hole ensuring that the surrounding soil is level with top of the container soil. Fill in around the plant with soil and gently firm it down. Water well if the conditions are dry.

Bare-rooted roses need to have their roots spread out and then placed in the planting hole with the bud union 2.5 cm (1in) below the surface of the soil (see diagram).

Fill in with soil and gently firm it down. Water well if the conditions are dry. If frosts occur soon after planting, it may be necessary to firm the soil down again.

The planting method for climbers and rambling roses is as described above, with a few points to note. 

The planting hole should be about 40cm (15in) away from the wall or fence in order to let rain get to the roots. When planting against a wall, be sure to secure the supports against the wall before planting. Finally, water well throughout dry periods for the first year or so.