Planting in Five Easy Steps

  1. Choose a sunny spot in well drained soil. Roses are sun lovers, so the more the better! The odd rose will tolerate some shade, but I recommend that you give your rose four or more hours of full sun. If you must choose between morning or late-day sun, choose morning sun!

  2. Dig a hole larger than the pot size or root system of the plant. Use your spade or fork to break up the soil at the base of the hole.  Add some compost and work in well.

  3. Remove the rose from the pot. Carefully place it in the hole and shovel extra soil mixed with a small amount of compost around the new plant. Roses planted "bare-root" or in the early season will need soil teased between the roots.

  4. Gently firm the rose into its new home and water well. Adding a fresh top layer of mulch is also very helpful at this time. Many different mulches are available and they work well to keep moisture in and weeds down.

  5. Stand back and watch it grow!


A Word About Fertilizer

Since most gardeners tend to over-feed their roses we recommend that you DO NOT add rose fertilizer to the planting hole. Small amounts of compost, aged organics or special "starter" fertilizers are fine to use. Water is the key ingredient to encourage your new rose to establish a healthy root system. Fertilizers come much later in the life of the plant.

Replant Disease

Old gardeners all know the value of crop rotation. Well, rose growing can benefit from the same policy. Roses should not be replanted in the same spot where another rose used to grow, unless the ground has been given a couple years' rest. Your new rose may not seem sick, but you will notice that it will fail to thrive and bloom to its best potential. When you let the soil rest, you can plant a few annuals in the space for a couple of seasons.

Your other option is to dig out a large area of soil where the old rose used to be, and replace the old soil with fresh, good quality garden soil. Bring in a good topsoil, well fortified with compost and aged manure.

Peter Beales, a very well-known rose expert, has a great tip for using a cardboard box to help shelter a new rose's roots from old soil.

Planting: Digging Deeper

Working the soil to prepare a broad planting hole.

Remember when I said that there are many different ways to prune your roses? Well double that number and

that's how many ways there are to plant them! Keeping it simple makes your planting task easy and enjoyable. If you have developed your own gardening skills, and they are working well, stick with what works. Or, give my methods a try!

I’m a firm believer in sustainable, common sense gardening. This goes double when we grow roses. Many people want to over-complicate rose growing. Remember, a rose is just another plant. Choosing the "right" variety and type of rose for your area is the key to beautiful roses.

If you are not familiar with the many outstanding roses on the market come and speak to us. Our life-long passion is to grow roses suited for coastal British Columbia and beyond.

Bare Root Roses

If you have received bare-root bushes from a mail-order nursery, or if you have some healed-in from winter storage, soak them in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting. If you’ve purchased roses in containers from Select Roses, you do not have to pre-soak them before planting.

Prepare the Planting Hole

Make sure your planting site gets four or more hours of full, direct sunshine.

Dig a hole large enough (bigger is better) for the root mass and loosen the soil at bottom of the hole.

Depending on your soil type, you may want to spade some compost into the hole and add a sprinkle of humic acid and bone meal, or rock phosphate. Bone meal or rock phosphate are both natural slow-acting sources of phosphorus, which promote healthy root growth. Earth Boost is a superb organic product that has been working very well for us. We like to use this combination of additives at Select Roses, but some of you may wish to use a "starter plant food" instead. We have tested, use and recommend a local product called Orgunique 1-3-15 Starter Food.


Place the rose in the hole spreading the roots slightly. I plant mine with the bud union (crown) slightly below the soil level (about 1/2 to 1 inch below). Refill the hole with soil that has been lightly amended with compost. Make sure the soil settles around the roots of your plant, then finish filling the hole. If your roses are well rooted into the pot, then lightly loosen the root ball, but try to keep the soil intact when possible. If a rose is moved from pot to soil early in the season, it is normal for most of the soil to fall off. Use this premium nursery soil mix in your planting hole, rather than letting it go to waste. Always mix your regular garden soil with compost or other products rather than planting in "layers".

Just before putting the final couple of inches of soil over the roots, water your new plant and let it drain before the final topping. Gently firm the soil around your new rose. Nothing thrills me more than seeing a newly planted rose bush, it just makes me smile! Ohh the excitement of what's to come!

Planting Depth of Roses

Rose growers will argue until they're blue in the face about the correct planting depth for roses, but it really depends on the climate you live in. If you live in a colder area, plant a bit deeper and consult with people growing roses in your area. If you're buying own-root type roses, you should plant them about 1 inch deeper than their potted level. Again, this varies according to climate. I'm told that sun on the crown of aging roses will help promote basal breaks for the bud union. I don't like seeing roses with huge long necks sticking out of the ground in any climate, as wind-rock can be a serious problem.


The most important thing you can do for your new rose bush is to water it and have patience! A new rose is a plant that should give you many years of enjoyment so please, don’t judge it after only a few weeks in the ground. It takes at least a full season and a winter's rest for a rose or ANY plant to be truly established. A common mistake is to over-fuss, over-feed and over-love a new rose. There is nothing more natural to a rose  than just growing; they love it! Just give your new rose a chance to root into the ground, and you will be rewarded with armloads of beautiful fragrant roses for years to come.