Planting Bare-Root Roses in Canada in Spring

Rose pictured above is the “New Dawn” climber, one of the best performing climbing roses in our climate.

These instructions are based on the step-by-step instructions provided at Pickering Nurseries, one of Canada’s best rose growers, supplying a huge variety of bare-root roses. Their planting guide in PDF form is downloadable here.

These instructions will also apply to those packaged roses you will start to see everywhere in grocery stores and garden outlets from now on. The most important thing to do is to buy and plant early, usually 1st week of April in most parts of Canada, certainly in Toronto.

Step One

• Put rose plant in a bucket of water, out of the sun, while waiting to plant
• Get spade, gloves, bucket of water, bonemeal and/or starter solution and garden hose
• Make hole 18 inches deep and wide (improve soil first with manure, compost, damp peat moss mix) Add couple handfuls of bonemeal to bottom. Mix with soil
• Do not use granular rose food at planting time. It will burn and kill your rose.

Step Two

• Trim 1” off the ends of the roots. Freshly trimmed roots develop quicker and take up more nutrients.
• If your roses have any white shoots, trim them back to 1/8”.
• Mound up soil at bottom of hole and place roots around mound
• Place the rose in the hole with bud union at least 2″ below the soil surface (zone 6 and colder)
• Back fill hole, compressing soil with your foot. (Using hands for this won’t compress enough to get rid of air pockets.)
• Water the rose with plant starter solution before finishing back-filling
• Hill the plants up with a mound of soil about 10” deep. This protects the plant from drying out while it sets roots. Remove the mound about 2 weeks after planting.

“Danger Will Robinson!” Don’t let these things happen during planting!!

1. Never allow the roots to dry out at any time during planting process.
2. Never plant in a poorly drained or soggy location.
3. Never plant in shade or near tree or shrub roots.
4. Never add granulated fertilizer in the planting hole.
5. Never add excessive amounts of manure, or fresh manure
6. Never plant in raised beds (above ground level)
7. Never leave the soil too loose after planting. Press firmly when backfilling.
8. Never plant without mounding soil around plant for two weeks.

By the way, if using peat moss, never use dry. Wet first with a few buckets of hot water. Hot water allows the moss to take up the moisture.

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