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When is the Best Time to Plant Roses?

Would you like to grow some roses in your garden? When is the best time to plant them? Here's all you need to know.
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Roses are always trendy but also a bit tricky to grow. The latter doesn’t discourage gardening enthusiasts from having roses in their gardens. These vibrant flowers are beautiful and have a pleasant smell. If you plant your rose at the right time and initially take good care of it, you will be rewarded with colorful flowers every year.

You need to learn about the type of soil to use and the growing zone because these can help a lot when planting roses. Those of you who wish to have a rose garden but are too scared to start should know that once you master the basics, you will see that roses are not so different from other flowers. They might need just a tiny bit more attention, and that is it.

So let’s dive in and find out when is the best time to plant roses, as well as how to care for these lovely shrubs.

Choosing the Roses

Now that you have decided to plant roses in your garden, you have to choose the type you want to start with. Of course, you can establish your rose garden on your own, but this is not recommended for beginners. There are so many things that could go wrong. Essentially, it all comes down to two options – container-grown and bare-root roses. You can usually find both in your local garden center or nurseries.

Container-grown roses are perfect for beginners since they are already developed. They are available throughout the growing season, allowing you to choose the best time to transfer the plant into the ground. You can even plant them at the end of May. The only downside to container-grown roses is the shipping cost. If you order them online, you will pay extra. The soil and the container are not light, so delivery itself might be a bit expensive.

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Plant bare-root roses as soon as they arrive. Nurseries keep them dormant, but you will have one or two days to put them in the ground. Make sure to soak the roots before planting. These also require more watering in the first couple of months because the root system needs to establish itself. However, you will have a wide selection of different bare-root roses varieties. Plus, you can order them online, and the shipping fee will be cheaper.

It is good to mention that you can keep your bare-root roses dormant yourself. So if the weather isn’t quite right just yet, this little trick might help. Your goal is to keep bare-root roses dry and in a cool place. You can store them in your basement, but only for up to seven days. After this, you have to plant them. But don’t worry, because a large container lined with burlap will do just fine if the weather hasn’t improved.

Weather and Soil Conditions

The weather has a massive impact on the condition of the soil. You have to make sure you are planting your roses at best possible time. It is crucial to avoid frost, but there are other things you have to check before you start working in your garden. Ground temperature and moisture are essential, too, so keep a close eye on the soil.

Roses need well-draining soil that can hold moisture but isn’t too wet. The roots need water to grow strong. Always go for loose soil that is almost sandy. Avoid clay because it can damage the root system in the early stages.

Snow in spring is not an uncommon sight in many corners of the world. In case you experience snowfall in March or April, clean the snow off the ground in your garden. Spring also means more sunshine, so the planting area will dry quicker when exposed to warmth. Don’t plant your roses in muddy ground. It is better to be patient and wait for the water to run off. Those of you with bare-root roses should plant them in slightly moist and warm soil.

Think about testing the soil pH for the best results. Soil pH testing kits are available in garden centers and don’t cost much. But they can help you a lot when determining when to plant the roses. These plants prefer slightly acidic soil, so pH should be between 5.8 and 7.0.

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When to Plant Roses

Plant this perennial flower either in fall or spring. Many gardeners usually go for the second option but planting roses before winter is also a good option. Remember to get the timing right. So if you plan on growing roses in the fall, do so at least six weeks before freezing temperatures roll in. It will provide enough time for the plant to establish its roots. Then the roses will go dormant in winter and start growing as soon as the weather gets warmer.

Spring is a safer option that increases your chance of success. Don’t plant roses too early, though. You should know the climate you live in. If the temperatures are still low in late April, wait a bit longer. Frost is usually the number one enemy to newly planted roses. But the soil shouldn’t be muddy or wet. Make sure there is some moisture, but not too much. So the perfect time to plant roses in spring is at the end of April and throughout May.

Where to Plant Roses

Choosing the right spot is super important if you want to have flourishing and thriving plants in your garden. Luckily, roses are not too demanding. These perennials need at least six hours of sunlight a day and some extra light in spring. While any exposure to the sun is great, try to plant your roses in a place where they can get morning sunlight. The afternoon sun is more intense and could dry out the soil during summer.

All of this depends on the climate you live in. If you live in a hot environment, protect your roses in the afternoon. On the other hand, those who live in a cold climate should plant the roses close to the west or south-facing fence. It will be beneficial in the long run because the rose bushes will be shielded from low winter temperatures and frost.

Madame Anisette Rose
Madame Anisette Rose

Roses love rich soil that has a lot of organic matter. These plants do need a lot of feeding to develop a healthy root system. Don’t forget to add compost when planting roses, and do it generously. Also, think about air circulation. If you are planting more than one rose, don’t put them too close to each other. These plants need their space.

While not prone to diseases, roses could develop fungus and attract pests. So it is best to plant them far away from any obstacles such as walls, houses, etc.

How to Plant Container-Grown Roses

Planting container-grown roses is easy. You can choose the right time to transfer this plant from a container to your flower bed. Follow these steps, and your roses will thrive:

  • Step 1: Prepare the soil for planting. It includes removing weeds and adding high-quality garden compost. Meanwhile, water the container well. Roses have a complicated but fragile root system. Make sure you water the compost too. If you put your plant in a dry flower bed, water might not reach the roots right away.
  • Step 2: Dig a hole that is just a bit deeper than the container. The soil in the middle of the hole should be loose so that the roots can establish themselves in a new environment. You could add fertilizer to the spot, but it is not mandatory.
  • Step 3: Remove the plant from the container and carefully place it in the hole. Fill out any gaps with dirt and continue to firm the soil around the rose. Don’t push on the root system, but gently move the ground from the sides.
  • Step 4: Water the plant, regardless of the weather. It will help settle the soil and encourage healthy root growth. Add a bit of mulch at the base too. Keep in mind that your newly-planted rose bush will need some extra care during its first season. So don’t forget to water it regularly!

How to Plant Bare-Root Roses

Bare-root roses are a bit different. It would be best to plant them while dormant, so prepare the ground before buying the plants. Here is what you need to do to grow bare-root roses successfully:

  • Step 1: Inspect the soil first. Measure the pH and check if you have well-drained soil. After this, prepare your bare-root rose. Soak the roots for 12 to 24 hours before planting. Don’t forget that the water needs to be warm.
  • Step 2: While your plant is soaked, dig a deeper hole than the length of the roots. Add a layer of compost at the bottom, and then sprinkle the same amount of loose soil on top of it.
  • Step 3: Now, lower the plant so that the roots touch the hole’s ground level. Start filling it up while you spread out the roots. You can also add more organic matter mixed with fresh soil.
  • Step 4: Once you fill the hole up, make sure the ground is firm. Then water the plant well. If you live in a hot climate, continue to water the roses once a day to encourage root growth. You should also add a thin layer of mulch at the base.

Taking Care of Roses

The first year is crucial for perennials, and roses are no exception. Sometimes we need to let go and allow nature to do its thing, especially in the beginning. You are probably very eager to start caring for your roses right away, but there is no need to rush. Adding too much mulch or overwatering the plant can cause damage. Your goal should be to keep the ground evenly moist in the first couple of weeks.

Once the shoots start coming off, clean out the mulch from the plant’s base a bit. Roses will continue to grow, and you should notice new foliage. Check the plant for any signs of disease or pests. Discoloration on the foliage could indicate the presence of a fungal infection. The most common one is powdery mildew. Pests like aphids and leafcutter bees might also attack your new plant.

China Doll Rose
China Doll Rose

By summer, you can start watering your roses more often. The roots should be mature by now. Rising temperatures mean your plant will need more moisture in the weeks to come. Roses growing in hot climates should get one good watering per week. Then maintain the humidity if you feel like your plant needs it. Remember to water the plant at the ground level. The leaves should be dry.

Fertilize the roses during the blooming period but avoid artificial fertilizers. They do make the foliage grow faster, but the leaves might be thin and weak. These attract pests that will not hesitate to attack your plant. Natural fertilizers are the way to go. Fertilize your roses once a month; there is no need to do it more frequently.

Protecting your roses during their first winter could be challenging, especially if you are a novice gardener. However, you need to do it if the ground often freezes where you live. So, start by trimming the branches a bit and tying them together. Then mound the soil around the base. Cover the plant with burlap and then secure it in place by placing more soil on it. Clean the burlap cover from falling leaves, dirt, and snow throughout winter.

It would help if you pruned the roses in spring when the plant starts to leaf out. Avoid pruning in the fall because you will only damage the rose bush. Prune the unhealthy parts of the plant, such as dry twigs and branches. Be careful and wear gloves to protect your hands.

Final Thoughts

Roses have a rich and fascinating history, so it is no wonder they are among the most popular flowers in the world. Planting roses is easier than you think. These flowers require more attention from you, but taking good care of them is not difficult. Before you know it, stunning rose flowers will enrich your garden every year.


Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at or follow on twitter

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