How To Plant Bare Root Roses

Olivia Austin Rose

What Is A Bare Root Rose?

A bare root rose is a dormant plant that is supplied without soil around its roots.

Roses are a deciduous plant that can be successfully grown in open fields and harvested. This is an effective method for growers to produce high-quality roses at a much lower cost than growing container-grown roses.

Bare root roses are harvested and sold only during the winter when the plant is dormant, and the lower production costs allow the grower to offer a wider selection and better price to the customer during the bare root season.

How Long Can Bare Root Roses Be Stored?

A Shropshire Lad David Austin Rose

Bare root roses are mainly purchased online or by mail order. They travel extremely well and remain fresh during transit, but once delivery is taken it is best to remove the rose from its packaging and soak the roots in water for 24 hours. This will give the rose a little refresh after their travels.

It is best to aim to plant your bare root rose after its 24-hour soak, but if you are unable to plant within this time frame you can heel the plant in. This involves selecting an open space in your garden and digging one big hole where you can plant your rose or if you have purchased multiple roses in the hole bundled together until you are ready to plant in the desired position in your garden.

Remember to firm the soil down when “heeling-in” and water well. The roses will keep for several weeks if looked after.

When To Plant Bare Root Roses

Container grown roses can be planted all year round, but it is best to plant bare-root roses in the autumn before the ground is frozen. You can also plant them from late winter to early spring before growth resumes.

How To Plant A Bare Root Rose

Garden Tools

Tools needed:

  • Spade
  • Fork
  • Bucket of Water
  • Water Can
  • Well-rotted Manure

Step 1 – Hydrate In A Bucket Of Water

It is most important not to let the roots dry out at any point during planting.

If you are an eager beaver and wish to plant your rose as soon as you take delivery, then you need to place your plant in a bucket of water to soak for at least 30 minutes before planting.

This will ensure that your rose is re-hydrated from its travels and will be ready to plant.

While the roots are having a soak you can prepare the soil where your rose is going to live in your garden.

Step 2 – Prepare The Soil

Using a garden fork dig over the soil where you plan to plant your rose. This will ensure that the roots of your rose can venture freely in their new home. During this process remove any stones or weeds.

Step 3 – Dig The Hole

Dig a hole that is going to be deep and wide enough to hold the plant’s roots when spread out.

This should approximately be 24 inches (60cm) deep, and 18 inches (45cm) wide. Or around a garden spade and a bit deep and a spade and a half wide.

Keep the backfill soil close to the hole.

Step 4 – Break Up The Soil

Again using your garden fork break up the soil at the base of the hole. This allows the roots of the plant to go deeper into the soil.

Step 5 – Add Well-Rotted Manure

Add a small spadeful of manure to the bottom of the hole and work it into the soil.

Doing this will add vital nutrients to the soil and will help establish your rose more effectively.

If you are unable to source well-rotted manure your local garden centre will offer an alternative such as pelleted chicken manure.

Step 6 – Place Your Rose In The Hole

Before positioning your rose in the hole place a bamboo cane across the hole to give you a guide of the soil level and to judge if the planting depth is correct.

Place the rose in the centre of the hole making sure the graft union (which is the swollen area between the roots and the stems) is just below the bamboo cane.

Step 7 – Backfill The Hole

Now that you have the correct position you are ready to fill in the hole with the original soil that was dug up to make the hole.

Step 8 – Firm In

Lightly firm the soil surrounding your newly planted rose to ensure that it is secure and that there are no air pockets in the soil.

Step 9 – Add Mulch

Adding some of the well-rotted manure to the surface of the soil will create a much to help conserve moisture.

Step 10 – Water In

Take your watering can and give your newly planted rose a nice drink of water.

How To Plant A Bare Root Climbing Rose

The process for planting a bare root climbing rose is almost identical to planting a bare root shrub rose.

The only difference when planting a climbing rose is to position the rose so that the roots grow away from the wall. This is because the soil against the wall will become very dry in the summer months.

Can Bare Root Roses Be Planted In Pots?

Bare root roses can be planted in containers.

Many nurseries will dig up any surplus roses grown in fields that were intended to be sold as bare root roses, then pot them up and sell them as container roses in the spring/summer.

How Long Does It Take For Bare Root Roses To Bloom?

If planting late winter or early spring just before they wake up, then your bare root rose should bloom within 8 to 12 weeks of planting.

How Often Should You Water Bare Root Roses?

Once planted a bare root rose should be treated like any other rose.

Newly planted roses should be watered every other day, ensuring that the soil is never allowed to dry out completely.


Planting bare root roses in your garden is a more cost-effective way of buying roses, and the time of year they need planting should be an easier task than planting in the summer as you should have some lovely moist soil to work with.