Roses are a wildly popular and well-loved component to many gardens, but some people shy away from them because they think they are fussy and hard to care for.
While some varieties may need a little extra TLC, not all varieties are so fussy, and with the proper planting techniques, you can give your roses a strong start for the best results in the years to come. When purchasing roses, make sure you pay attention to whether they are grafted or own root roses. Grafted roses are roses that have been grafted onto the roots of a different, hardier variety. You can often identify if the rose is grafted because you can see the graft point, which is usually a ball or knob a few inches above the soil. If you are unsure if the rose you have chosen is grafted or own root, ask the professionals at the greenhouse for help.
Once you choose your rose and take it home, you must harden it off, or acclimate it to the conditions outside the protected greenhouse. Start by leaving your rose in a sunny spot for a few hours on the first day, then moving it to a shadier, protected spot. Every day, leave the rose in the sun for a little longer. After about a week, the rose should be ready to plant in the ground.
When planting, be sure to choose a sunny spot. Roses need at least six hours of sunlight a day. Dig a hole 2-3 times wider than the pot and deep enough to bury the graft point (on grafted roses) about three inches below the soil level. Burying the graft point will protect this vulnerable spot from harsh conditions. Fill the hole with a mixture of compost and native soil.
After the rose has been planted, as hard as it is, you must prune the rose bush back by 1/3 – ½. This will ensure that your rose bush puts much of its energy into growing strong roots, and not flowers and foliage. You won’t get as many flowers the first year, but you will be laying the groundwork for a much stronger rose in future years. You should also hold off on fertilizing your rose the first year, because fertilizer will encourage top growth, and again, you want to establish strong roots first. Finally, water your rose consistently. They need about three inches of water per week.
By following these planting techniques, you will ensure a strong start for your roses, and will be rewarded for it in the future!