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By: Marko Vuorinen
Ok, you’ve done your homework. You’ve picked out the right kind of roses for your garden and you’ve bought or mixed together the right type of soil for your new plants. All that’s left to do is plant your roses. Don’t rush this part of the process – it is at this stage where you could do damage to your roses.

There are a few different starting points with roses. You may be planting bare root roses, a rose that is already inside a container, or a non-established rose bush (bushes that do not have sufficient root growth to hold the root ball together). The method for the first two is quite similar.

When planting bare root roses or roses from a container you should first decide where in your garden you’d like that particular rose. Start by digging a hole. Your roses should be located somewhere in your garden where they will be exposed to at least six hours of strong sunlight and where there is good drainage. It\'s a good idea to test the drainage before planting your roses. Dig a hole one to two feet deep and fill it with water. If there is any standing water after two hours then you need to choose another location or add sand to the hole to improve drainage. Once you’ve identified a site that has sufficient sunlight and drainage, dig a hole one and a half to two feet deep by one and a half feet wide. The exact measurements will depend on the type and size of roses you are planting.

You should take some time and prune your roses for planting at this stage if you are planting bare root roses. Prune away any broken or damaged roots. The roots should not be overly long either. Prune the roots to about twelve inches long. Keeping the roots a manageable length will help prevent damaging them during the planting process. You will not do this with container roses because the roots are already held within the dirt in the pot and disturbing the roots that have begun to grow inside the container could have detrimental effects on your roses.

Next, you will want to place the rose plant into the hole and hold it to ensure that it is level with the ground without smashing down the roots. If you are planting roses into a container, then you will keep the plant in the container throughout this stage. If the plant is too high, then you need to remove the plant and just keep digging. If the rose plant is too low and you’ve dug too far down, then you need to add some dirt back into the hole.

Many gardeners put some phosphorous into the hole before putting the rose plant in. It is important that you cover this phosphorous with dirt because the nitrogen in it could burn the hair roots on your new rose plant.

Once the hole is the right size and the phosphorous has been added and covered, you can place your rose plant into the hole (you would remove the pot at this stage if you were using container roses). Fill the hole halfway with soil and then add some water. Finish filling the hole with dirt and water again. It’s as simple as that!

You need to be very careful when planting non-established rose bushes since these have insufficient root growth which causes the root ball to be very fragile. If the root ball falls apart, there could be serious damage to the hair roots and this could affect the overall health of your rose bush. If the bush has not yet sprouted, then you can treat it like a bare root plant and soak it in water first. If there has been some substantial growth then you want to adjust the soil level in the hole by removing certain portions of the container one step at a time and back filling the hole until your rose bush is in place.

The most important thing is to take your time and have a bit of patience. Following these steps will help you prevent damaging the roots of roses when planting, but so will a little common sense and a bit of care. Remember that roots are vital to a rose’s health, so you need to treat them with care if you expect your new roses to survive and thrive.

Marko Vuorinen
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