Beautiful Rose Bushes: A Close Relationship In Planting And Growing

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There is a close relationship between how well a rose bush grows and how well planted. You can’t just “stick” a rose in the ground and expect it to flourish.

In the first place, the rose is a shrub – a woody plant that is different in structure and growth characteristics from an annual or herbaceous perennial. It cannot re-establish itself with anywhere near the same rapidity.

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Mature Roses Shipped Bare Root

Next, the rose is a comparatively mature plant to be shipped bare-rooted. Other plants that were handled this way, such as fruit trees and shrubs, are young or juvenile.

One does not expect a peach tree to fruit until three or four years after planting, but a rose is expected to give a full quota of delicate blooms within three or four months. Other kinds of plants in a similar stage of maturity are moved with a giant ball of soil.

It must also be remembered that rose plants are carried through the winter at nurseries, and while this does not weaken them appreciably, the treatment may cause some deterioration of the roots. Thus a plant that has been stored is not as easy to re-establish as a freshly dug one.

Rose Soil A Limiting Factor

Many gardeners go to great lengths to prepare the soil and rest in a false security that success is assured. I am not one to labor the point of soil preparation. Good soil is necessary to grow roses, and poor soil should be improved by incorporating organic material.

Still, the soil is rarely a limiting factor unless mismanagement has ruined it. The nearest perfect soil imaginable will still not produce good roses if the plants are carelessly planted. Neither can one expect good growth from newly planted roses unless good quality plants are obtained?

Quality is not always correlated with price. The new varieties are usually more expensive than the older ones. Avoid bargains or very low-priced plants unless you can be sure they are first grade and have been properly handled.

Be sure that the canes are plump and firm and that the root system is significant. Beware of plants with long white shoots growing on them.

The first requirement in planting roses is to get them into the ground as promptly as possible after they arrive. Even with the best packing, the conditions during shipment are unfavorable. Immediate planting is even more critical with plants purchased over the counter or from a local nursery.

Of course, I realize there are times when this is impractical. In such a case, the package should be opened partially to see if the packing material around the roots is moist. Always keep the container in a cool, damp place. If it is necessary to hold the plants more than a few days before planting, they should be removed from the package and heeled in or buried in the soil.

The Simple Planting Operation But Done Well

The planting operation is simple, but it needs to be well done. Be sure to keep the roots of the bushes to be planted protected from drying out. I like to keep them well wrapped in moist burlap. Some gardeners set them in a pail of water. I find it more difficult to set out a plant if the roots are wet.

At this time, the plants should be scrutinized. Unless they were pre-pruned at the nursery, the tops should be cut back to 9″ to 12″ inches above the union. All the small, weak canes should be removed as well as any that are bruised or broken.

The top cut on the main canes left on the plant should be made about an inch above a bud or eye. It’s good to coat the cut surface with wound paint, which may now be found in most garden centers.

The next step is to dig the hole deep enough and large enough in diameter to accommodate the root system. Usually, this will mean a fix nearly two feet in diameter and a foot deep.

It is common to mound up a cone of soil in the bottom. The point of the cone tends to fill in the space in the center of the root system, and it makes it easy to adjust the plant to the proper depth.

Related: 6 Easy Successful Steps in Planting Rose

Rose Planting Depth

There is a lot of controversy about how deep to set a rose bush and the modern tendency to plant higher than in the past, even in the colder sections. The depth is determined by the union between the understock and the scion.

This can be seen as a swollen, joint-like structure above the roots. The union is placed a little above the ultimate soil level in warm climates. In cold temperatures, the union should be slightly below the soil level. Some gardeners try to replant the bush at about the same level it grew in the nursery, which is satisfactory. However, it is not always easy to determine just where this point is.

As soon as the plant is adjusted to the desired level and position, begin to work soil carefully around the roots. This is an important step, and the more care used, the better. The seeds should be spread out in as natural a position as possible, and every attempt made to get the roots back into the soil in approximately the same place as they were in the nursery.

Firming the soil around the roots is also essential. No air space should be left around the bases, and unless the soil is very wet, it should be tramped down with your feet. Before the hole is completely filled, pour in a bucket of water and wait for it to disappear.

Protection of the canes against drying out is essential, and there are several ways of accomplishing this. Usually, the soil is mounded up around the plant as high as possible.

I have never liked this method because it is hard to protect the entire length of the canes, and secondly, very often, shoots are broken off or injured when the soil is finally pulled away.

I like to use strips of thin sod about six or eight inches wide to be wrapped, grass side in, and completely cover the plant. With this type of cover, it is easy to inspect the plants to see how the buds are breaking. It can be loosened or removed gradually, and each plant can be handled according to its progress.

Instead of sod, burlap, newspaper, or large flower pots may be used over the plants. The chief consideration is to employ some method that keeps the canes shaded and the air around the canes moist. As soon as the shoots develop, the covering should be removed gradually.

By R Allen