A Warning and Three Points About Bare Root Roses

Bare root roses are the traditional way to purchase roses (and how they'll come if you order them by mail order or over the internet) so here are a few hints on how to handle them.

Drying Roots are Dead Roots

The first thing to understand is they are really susceptible to damage if you let them dry out.

If you notice the packaging from a reputable nursery, it is designed to keep the roses in high humidity but not wet. It is designed to prevent the roses from losing moisture (one of the reasons that canes are waxed). Do not set your roses back by letting them sit around outdoors when you receive them.

Plant them the same day you get them
to eliminate any problems.

It is often recommended to hydrate bare root roses by sticking them in a bucket of warm water for an hour or two before you plant them. I personally don't do this as I plant the day/hour I get my roses but it doesn't hurt as I've done trials with this technique.

I'm not convinced it helps if you plant the roses immediately but if you have to let them sit for a day, then it will clearly help.

Bare Roots in the Sun

I have let roses sit outdoors in the hot sun for two hours to see what happened and - - they didn't do well at all and in fact, 3 of the 5 plants died after a week or two. The other two weren't very strong.

Now this might have been the result of poor roses to start with or it might have been the result of the sun drying out roots -but the warning is clear.

Keep those roots protected!

Warning re Buying Bare Root Roses

I have looked at some of the bare root roses being sold in mass merchants and quite frankly, I'm not impressed.

For the most part, unless you can get the rose on the day it comes off the truck, I'd pass on it. Let some other beginning gardener spend the money and have their efforts negated by poor roots. They do not care for their plants (plant care costs money) as the smaller private rose nurseries do.

rose mardi gras
Rose 'Mardi Gras'

Roses in Big Box Stores in Packages Already Sprouting

Walk away. Simply walk away. You might save a dollar or two but I get more questions about why the rose died than any other product.

Cut off Roots ??

Some writers suggest you prune off the roots to match the size of the tops. Now there's a load of manure for you.

Never (ever) prune off healthy roots! Period.

If the bare root roses have damaged roots, these can be pruned off but not healthy roots (this goes for any plant)

Dig a hole large enough to handle the large root and plant away. If you feel you must prune to balance the plant, prune off the tops instead.

Those roots are what will make or break the tops so you really do want them taken care of.

Having said all that, if a rose has a root that is partially broken off -you can safely prune away the broken bit. Never force these bare root roses into too small a hole (by bending the roots). Instead dig a 2 dollar hole for a 50 cent plant.

Planting instructions are here

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