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Planting Bare Root Roses

Youíve picked out one, two, or several healthy, grade #1 bare root roses, and brought them home. Now itís time to get them in the ground and on their way to thriving, beautiful rose bushes!

Roses like sun, so plant them in a spot that gets at least six hours of full sun daily. They should be in a spot with soil that drains well, not a muddy or soggy patch. Since roses need quite a bit of water, donít plant them near plants that prefer it on the dry side.

The first thing you will do is remove the plastic wrap from around the roseís roots. There will be loose sawdust inside, so be sure to do this over newspaper or a patch of dirt. Gently shake the plant to remove the loose sawdust, and untangle the roots. If you see any broken or damaged roots, clip them off with a garden clipper.

Fill a bucket with water and one tablespoon of household bleach, set the rose in the bucket so the roots are covered, and let it sit while you continue with your preparations. The bleach will help prevent disease by killing molds or bacteria on the roseís roots.

Dig your planting hole. It should be about 18 inches wide by 18 inches deep. A good-sized hole will allow your rose to spread out its roots as it grows, so take the time to do it right.

Mix some good-quality compost with the dirt you removed from the hole, creating a half-and-half mixture. Use this soil to create a mound at the bottom of the planting hole.

Take your bare root rose from the bucket, and position it in the hole so the roots spread over the mound of soil. Arrange them gently so they are evenly distributed, and not bent or crimped.

If your rose is a hybrid tea, floribunda, or grandiflora, it is probably grafted onto rootstock. The bulging area where the graft was made is called the bud union. You will see it at the base of the plant right above the roots.

If you live in a mild-winter area, plant your rose so that the bud union is just above the soil line. In a cold-winter area, protect the bud union by planting it an inch or two below the soil.

Once your rose is in position, start filling in the hole with the compost and soil mixture. Firm the soil with your hands as you work. Once you have filled in the soil around the roseís roots, water thoroughly. Add more soil if there are any low spots.

Make a watering trough around the rose using the wet soil to form a basin about 3 inches high, and a foot away from the plantís base. Keep your roses watered to prevent dry soil, but donít keep the soil muddy and soggy. You donít want the roots to rot.

You will see new growth on your roses one to two months after planting. While you should have flowers the first year, larger rose bushes often take two or even three years to reach their full potential.

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