After you've done your homework and chosen the shrub rose (hybrid tea), bush rose (floribunda), climbing rose, rambling rose or mini rose variety that is suited to your climate and space conditions and to your taste in color, growth habit and fragrance, it's time to select your rose bush and start growing.
Whether from a catalog, supermarket or nursery, inspect your rose plant. Healthy roses withstand pests and disease better. Bare-root roses are cheaper. Container roses cost more but are more established.
Care and attention in the beginning will be rewarded with gorgeous roses for your garden.
Choose a No. 1 grade rose (determined by the American Association of Nurserymen). This means a 2-year-old field-grown bush with three or more canes within 3 inches of the bud union where the rose was grafted on the rootstock. Find No. 1 roses online, from a catalog for delivery at the correct planting time, at nurseries, at a local garden center or in your supermarket.
Shop early and pick the plant with the healthiest root system. Roses with roots trimmed to fit inside plastic bags for sale in supermarkets and garden centers will take longer to get established. Look for bushes with uncut roots, as these will establish your plant quickly after planting. Take bushes out of small containers to see if they have had their roots cut to fit. Ask suppliers of bare-root roses if the roots have been cut. Do not buy if the roots are dried out.
Look for healthy bushes with plump stems and bark. Don't buy a plant that's shriveled, especially the roots. Watch for thick, green canes, but don't buy waxed plants. Buy bare-root roses with only a few leaves and remove any shoots longer than an inch.
Inspect for diseases or infestations. Reject any roses with malformed or stunted canes, a sign of powdery mildew. Avoid roses with black spots on leaves. Inspect any plants with malformed foliage for spider mites, tiny green or yellow insects on the bottoms of leaves. Orange-red blisters on the bottom of leaves mean rust, and flowers that don't open can indicate thrips. Mottled leaves are a sign of aphids, tiny sucking insects that cluster on buds or undersides of leaves.
Plant new bushes immediately or soak with water right away. Roses must be kept hydrated, which can be a problem at box or convenience stores. If you can't plant them right away, keep them in a cool, dark place, well watered in well-drained soil.