The first hints of spring inspire many gardeners to consider planting roses. While many perennials and shrubs are planted in the fall, the best time to plant roses is early spring. You can plant either bare root roses or container grown rose plants in the spring and be enjoying blooms by summer.
- Your Zone Determines the Best Rose Planting Time
- Planting Considerations for Roses
- Timing for Planting Roses
- Developing Your Spring Fertilization Program
- What and where to plant
- Preparing and planting
- A Guide to Roses: Types and Care
- Different Kinds of Roses
Your Zone Determines the Best Rose Planting Time
Before setting out rose plants or bare roots, you want to check your gardening Hardiness Zone to find the date for the last frost. You will then plant your rose plants/bare roots following the zone guideline. In most hardiness zones, the best time to plant roses is early spring. This is sometime between late February and early April.
Hardiness Zones for Gardening
Find your gardening zone with the online USDA hardiness zone finder. Simply enter your zip code and follow the first and last frost dates given.
- The first frost date for the year comes in the fall.
- The last frost date for the year is in the spring.
Zone Frost Dates for Planting Roses
You can use the USDA Hardiness Zone map to ensure you’re using the right zone information. The zones are listed 1 through 13. According to Rogue Valley Roses, Zone 3 is the coldest zone possible to grow roses. Zones 10 to 13 might not have enough winter cold for Alba and Gallica rose classes to flower, so check with your local nursery before buying.
Below are the last and first frost date guidelines for Zones 3 through 9:
- Zone 3: The last frost date is May 15. The first frost date is September 15.
- Zone 4: The last frost dates is May 15 to June 1. The first frost date is September 15 to October 1.
- Zone 5: The last frost date is May 15. The first frost date is October 15.
- Zone 6: The last frost date is April 1 to April 15. The first frost date is October 15 to 30.
- Zone 7: The last frost date is mid-April. The first frost date is mid-October.
- Zone 8: The first frost date is October 11 to October 20. The last frost date is March 21 to March 31.
- Zone 9: The timeframe between the first and last frosts is often one to two weeks in January.
Tips for Planting in Zones
A few quick tips for planting roses in your zone include:
- Roses should be planted after all danger of frost has passed.
- The soil should be warmed up and easy to work after that date.
- Soil that’s too frozen or sopping wet and muddy from spring rains shouldn’t be worked.
- If the soil is muddy, wait until the soil has dried enough to allow proper planting.
Planting Considerations for Roses
Before planting roses, choose your spot carefully. Roses will be happier and healthier if given the optimum conditions. These include:
- Full sun: Defined as six or more hours per day of direct sunshine, full sun means your roses should receive morning light. An eastern, southeastern or southern exposure is ideal.
- Air circulation: Roses need good air circulation, so be sure that you don’t plant them in a closed in or a boxed-in area that doesn’t receive fresh free flowing air.
- Place to avoid planting: You don’t want to plant roses too close to buildings or near large trees. Both locations can set-up conditions for the growth of molds, mildews and other microbes that cause black spot, a disease that can weaken or kill the plant.
- Soil type: Roses like rich soil and love compost, especially composted horse or cow manure. Add as much compost as you can to the soil prior to planting.
- Compost: As with all composts, be sure that any compost added to the soil has a chance to break down before planting.
- Manure: Never add fresh manure directly to the soil or near plants as it can burn tender roots.
Special Considerations for Bare Root Roses
Keep in mind that bare root roses should be planted as early in the season as possible. Bare root roses are the kind you see in boxes and are usually the types shipped via mail order.
- You should plant while still dormant, or before shoots begin to grow off of the main branch.
- You can and should plant a bare root rose that’s already begun to sprout, it’s better for the plant if it’s in the ground before it begins to put the energy into growing new leaves and stems.
- There are special instructions for planting bare root roses since they’re planted a little differently than potted or container grown roses. Be sure to review the guidelines for rose planting from Ohio State University.
- Bare root roses have a lower survival rate than potted rose plants.
Timing for Planting Roses
It’s all about timing when it comes to planting roses. Make sure the danger of frost has passed before setting out plant or bare root roses and you’ll have lots of blooms all summer.
Developing Your Spring Fertilization Program
Contrary to popular belief, February and March are excellent times to start planting roses.
Many landscapers will wait until April and May to begin planting roses because this is when the plants are already in bloom, and many nurseries will get their stock of roses in around January and February. But when planted early, like in February and March, rose bushes have the chance to produce roots into the soil, and they will be well settled by the time they begin to bloom.
Because they are able to get that instant burst of color, people tend to flock to planting rose bushes that are already in bloom, but this makes it harder for the roses to adapt to their new surroundings and produce a fair amount of growth.
Additionally, roses planted in April and May are doomed to face the upcoming summer heat sooner than later. Roses planted in February and March are able to establish roots while the weather is mild and are able to deal with the heat better once it arrives.
It’s also good to remind customers that roses may be considered low maintenance but that doesn’t mean the same thing as no maintenance. Stress to clients the importance of either pruning their roses themselves or hiring you to perform this regular bit of upkeep.
Each type of rose is different and has its own specific set of pruning techniques. Timing can vary a bit as well, but the goals are always the same: removing diseased or damaged wood, increasing air circulation, shaping the plant and encouraging growth on flowering wood.
If you find that more and more customers are requesting roses in their landscapes, keep these tips in mind when planning out their placement and care.
What and where to plant
The first step in giving your customers the landscape they crave is to first decide what type of roses they want. Some customers will come into a project having specific ideas of what plants they want, and others will be open to your suggestions and rely on your input. Regardless of which customer you have, it’s important to take stock of their landscape, climate, etc. before making a decision.
Whether your customers are wanting roses strictly for decorating or specifically want long stems, short stems or climbing varieties, there are many different varieties to choose from.
When choosing a location for your customer’s roses, pay close attention to growing conditions. Roses should not be planted in areas that are partly shady or completely shady. To thrive, roses will need anywhere from six to eight hours of direct sun each day, and any shade they do receive should, ideally, come during the afternoon. These plants will also need excellent drainage, so avoid areas that are lower and retain water unless you are planting a rose that thrives in watery areas.
Preparing and planting
Regardless of whether your customers already have a designated area for roses or you are creating a new space for them, the soil and surrounding areas need to be carefully prepared.
To begin, clear the area of any unwanted vegetation, such as turf grass, weeds and more. Next, be sure to turn the soil at least 8 to 10 inches deep and spread amendments over the soil. After this, add in at least 4 inches of organic matter, such as compost, rotted manure, finely ground pine bark or sphagnum peat.
Next, add a general purpose fertilizer to the bed and make sure you dig it into the soil. To find out if any other specific amendments should be added to the soil, be sure to have the soil tested. If there are any additional amendments needed, add them and blend them into the soil thoroughly and finish by raking it smooth.
For bare-root planting, remove the plants from their wrapper and put the roots in water. Have the hole ready in the prepared soil that’s as deep and wide as the root system, and place a cone of soil in the hole. Take the roots and spread them over the cone and hold the plant over the cone so the graft union is about 2 inches higher than the soil’s bed.
While holding the plant in place, use your other hand to push and firm the soil into the hole and cover the roots. Be sure to keep the graft union above the soil when the planting is finished.
Be sure to finish up this planting with a thorough watering to help the soil and mulch settle.
A Guide to Roses: Types and Care
Different types of roses have distinctive characteristics:
The hybrid teas are the most widely grown roses. Their traits include large, single blooms, typically on long stems. If you’ve received a Valentine’s Day rose, it was probably a hybrid tea. These roses are ideal for cutting. Most bloom in spring and fall. However, new varieties are being introduced each year for increased bloom time. Sensitive to cold, they need winter protection. Hybrid teas grow 3 to 6 feet tall.
The robust floribundas are derived from the hybrid tea. The blooms are slightly smaller and clustered on the stem. You don’t have to speak Latin to know what the “ibunda” part means: plenty of stems with more flowers and a longer blooming cycle. If you want plenty of flowers, the floribunda is the one for you. The height is generally 3 to 5 feet tall. Polyantha roses are similar to the floribunda but are generally only about 2 feet tall.
Grandifloras are a cross of the hybrid tea and the floribunda. Like floribundas, they usually have several clustered blooms. They’ve inherited the larger blooms and long stems from the hybrid teas. Grandifloras can reach 6 feet in height.
As the name states, miniatures are tiny replicas of larger roses. Their small blooms and foliage plus their compact size make them excellent container plants for indoors or outdoors. They can also be used for edging, rock gardens or anywhere a full-size shrub wouldn’t fit. A miniature’s mature size is usually less than 2 feet tall.
Also called ramblers, the climbing rose doesn’t really climb. The plant produces long, arching canes that must be attached to supports, such as fences, arbors, trellises or walls. They bloom continuously or at least several times during summer and fall. The arching canes can be 20 to 30 feet long. If your garden space is limited, use vertical space and plant some of these.
The term shrub covers a variety of roses, from bushy specimens to hedge roses. Generally hardy and disease-resistant, shrub roses provide a lot of blooms. The size depends on the variety and ranges from 3 to 10 feet or more.
Tree roses are also known as standards. Not truly a separate rose variety, a tree rose is any rose plant (probably a hybrid tea or floribunda) that is bud-grafted onto a straight, sturdy trunk. Special pruning and winter protection is required in most climates. Tree roses make good container plants. Used as specimen plants, they offer a formal look to the rose garden. Heights depends on the variety of rose used, but standards can be 4 to 6 feet tall.
Different Kinds of Roses
These are roses as nature gave them to us. They are the species of the genus Rosa found growing naturally throughout the Northern Hemisphere. These roses are an enormously varied group of plants. They are vigorous, thriving on minimal maintenance, and tend to be extremely hardy and disease-resistant. It should be noted however, that there is variability within species. Some may be more tolerant than others. They range in size from ground cover types to very large upright growers and climbers. Their flowers can be very large and single or small and in clusters. Colors range from white to pink to crimson.
Species roses often have relatively simple, 5-petaled flowers followed by very colorful hips that last well into the winter, providing food for birds and winter color. Almost all are once-blooming in early summer. Perhaps the most familiar species for sale today is Rosa rugosa because of its superior hardiness, disease resistance, and extremely easy maintenance. The species has been widely hybridized. Species roses may not be for everyone. Rose enthusiasts like to include them into their collection for historical purposes as well as ease of maintenance.
Old European Garden Roses
There are five classes of roses that make up what is known as the most venerable group of cultivated roses. They are Gallica, Damask, Alba, Centifolia, and Mosses, and represent the hybrid groups that prevailed in European gardens prior to the widespread trade of Rosa chinensis in the eighteenth century. They are typically very fragrant and extremely cold-hardy (USDA zones 3-5). European roses tend to do better in cooler zones and may suffer when planted in zones 7 and higher. Also, contrary to common belief, the old European garden roses are not as disease-resistant as some report.
Hardy Repeat-Blooming Old Roses
As can be seen, hardy old garden roses offer just about everything a gardener could ask for in a rose: extreme winter-hardiness, excellent tolerance to disease, exquisite blooms, and outstanding fragrance. The one thing that is lacking is recurrent bloom throughout the summer. Gardeners wanting to combine all of the qualities mentioned above with rebloom capabilities need only to look toward the Bourbons, Portlands, and Hybrid Perpetuals.
The modern age of rose growing began officially when a new class of rose was developed from a tea/hybrid perpetual cross. The year was 1867, the hybridzer was Jean-Baptiste Guillot, the rose was ‘La France,’ and the class that was born was the hybrid tea. The most popular roses sold and the ones that have the most name recognition in the modern rose class are the hybrid tea, floribunda, and grandiflora.
This class of rose is a “catch all” for roses that do not fit well in other classes. This “duke’s mixture” of a class includes everything from hybrid rugosas developed in the late 1800s, to hybrid musks developed in the 1900s, to floribundas and the latest and newest introductions in landscape roses.
“Shrub rose” may be a poor choice of words, and as a result the term is largely artificial because all roses are in fact shrubs –just as is a lilac or a forsythia. “Shrub,” as applied to roses, is more a case of definition by usage rather than by description.
Shrub roses are noted for their well-rounded shape, their exceptional winter hardiness, and their better than average disease resistance.
Today’s gardeners are finding the task of maintaining quality roses a bit easier with the introduction of many shrub roses into the market. Shrub roses are also very free-flowering, producing a good supply of fragrant flowers all summer. Shrub roses are bred and selected for planting “outside” the rose garden, blending well into a mixed border of flowers, as landscape hedges, and into the landscape at large.
One may find reference to both old and modern shrub roses. Both classes have merit. The old shrub roses are tall (6+ feet) and need a lot of space. They are also extremely hardy and pest-resistant. Modern shrub roses tend to be more compact while still maintaining the qualities you would find in older shrub roses. Modern shrub roses can be found carrying class names and terms such as “English Garden Roses,” “David Austin Roses,” “Sub-Zero Roses,” “Dr. Buck Roses,” “Kordesii Roses,” “Canadian Explorer Roses,” “Parkland Roses,” “Meidiland Roses,” “Hybrid Rugosa,” and “Hybrid Musk.”
|Hybrid Rugosa||Hybrid Musk|
|Roses with Long Canes||David Austin Roses|