Planting Roses

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Select the proper site for your rose to improve its success. Roses perform best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun daily. There should be air circulation through the foliage to keep it dry and discourage diseases.

Plant the bushes away from large trees or shrubs, which compete for nutrients, moisture and sunlight. Dig a hole twice the width and the same depth as the rose container. Mix one cup bone meal or 1/4 cup triple super phosphate into the soil removed from the hole.

Remove the plant from the pot by holding it at the base with one hand and tapping the top of the container until it comes loose. Wearing gloves may be wise.

Taking care not to disturb the roots, place the rose bush in the hole so that its bud union is one to two inches above ground level.

Backfill with a 50/50 mix of sphagnum (Canadian) peat moss and a rich black top soil. In sandy porous soils, use 75% sphagnum (Canadian) peat moss to 25% top soil. In dense clay or poorly drained soils, use 50% soil conditioner (finely ground pine bark), 25% sphagnum peat moss, and 25% topsoil. Fill the hole to the top of the root ball. Firm soil. Cover entire planting area with a two to three-inch layer of organic mulch, making sure to keep it one to two inches away from trunks or stems.

Water thoroughly and apply Espoma Biotone Starter Plus according to label directions. Then only water when the soil is dry to the touch — about 1 1/2 inches or knuckle deep. Check regularly and only water when necessary.


Feed roses every three weeks during the growing season through mid-August.

Fall & Winter Rose Care

Most roses need winter protection during Michigan’s cold weather to ensure success in subsequent years. Garden roses vary in their endurance of winter conditions. Shrub roses are generally considered the hardiest and need minimal protection.