Guest Author - Michelle Ullman
It�s coming up on bare root rose season, and soon the nurseries will be filled with seemingly endless roses to choose from. If you are planning new additions to your rose garden, or are excited about planting your very first rose, now is the time to buy.
Bare root roses are in a dormant stage, heavily pruned back to just a few canes, and without leaves. Most often, they have no soil, just damp sawdust packed around the roots, and a plastic bag holding the sawdust in place.
Benefits of buying bare root roses include:
� Lower price, often as much as 50% less than the same rose in a container sold later in the year.
� Best selection.
� Bare root roses establish quickly.
� Easy ordering from websites or catalogs, as bare root roses ship easier than potted roses.
� It�s easier to plant a dormant rose than a leafed out bush later in the year.
In mild-winter areas, you will find bare root roses for sale as early as January. Cold areas will receive their supply of roses once the soil is warm enough for planting. You need to plant bare root roses as soon as possible, so visit your local nursery or garden center when the roses arrive. You will have the best assortment to choose from, and will be able to get the roses planted right away.
Bare root roses are graded according to American Nursery Standards. The package will be labeled with the grade.
� Grade 1: The rose has at least three canes that are strong and healthy, and at least 1/8 inch in diameter.
� Grade 1-1/2: The rose has at least two strong, healthy canes at least 1/8 inch in diameter.
� Grade 2: The rose has only one or two canes, which may be very thin.
Stay away from grade 2 roses, which are unlikely to do well, and may not even survive. Grade 1 are more expensive, but worth the cost for roses that are likeliest to thrive in your garden, though grade 1-1/2 can also do well.
There are many places to purchase bare root roses.
� Local nurseries
� Home improvement stores
� Discount department stores, such as Target
� Websites specializing in roses or other plants
� Mail order catalogs
Your best bet is to buy from the nursery or a website specializing in roses. You are likeliest to get a fresh, healthy rose from these sources. If buying from a home improvement center, discount store or supermarket, make sure you are getting grade 1 or 1-1/2 roses and that you buy early, while they are still fresh.
When selecting your bare root roses, look over the plant carefully. You want to go home with a healthy plant that will quickly establish in your garden and thrive for years to come.
� Read the package description of the rose, and make sure it matches the plastic or metal tag that most roses carry with their variety name.
� Canes should be green, plump and smooth. Don�t pick a rose with withered, brown or broken canes.
� The areas of the rose�s canes where leaves and new branches will develop, called the bud, should look healthy, possibly with some swelling where new leaves will sprout.
� Do not purchase bare root roses that have leafed out. The plant should still be fully dormant. This is another reason to buy early in the season, as soon as the bare root roses appear in the nurseries.
� Check for signs of insects, mold, holes or damage on the rose�s canes or base. Pass by any that don�t appear healthy.
� The package should feel heavy and cool. If the rose has dried out, the roots may be stressed or dead.
Bare root time is an exciting time for rose fanciers! With new introductions every year, along with old favorites, it�s hard to limit yourself to just one or two new roses. Be sure to visit your local nursery as soon as the roses arrive, and select a healthy plant to beautify