You can buy roses in two forms--in a nursery pot or as bare-root plants. Those in pots already have well-developed root systems. Roses should be watered well for a few days before planting in the ground. Bare-root roses are a bit weaker. They need to be soaked for up to 24 hours in water before planting. The best time to plant roses is early in the season when the soil is still moist and cool. If your climate doesn't drop below -10 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, you can plant roses in fall or spring. If it gets colder than -10 degrees Fahrenheit, put them in the ground in the spring.
Choose a planting location that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily. It needs to be direct, unfiltered light. Shade-tolerant rose species need at least four to six hours of sunlight.
Test the soil to determine the pH. Roses prefer a slightly acidic or neutral soil. Alkaline can cause problems such as chlorosis, a yellowing or blanching in leaves. The ideal matter is a combination of sand, clay and silt. Add ground limestone to the soil to adjust the pH, if necessary. If you didn't do this at the time of planting, apply 2 tbsp. of ground limestone per rose bush annually.
Dig a hole for bare-root roses that's large enough to allow room for the roots to spread. The hole should be large enough to accommodate the size of the rose bush in two years.
Space rose bushes farther apart if you live in mild climates. Roses grow larger in regions with mild winters than they do in areas with harsh winters. Planting bushes 3 feet apart is a good rule of thumb.
Create a mound of soil at the bottom of the planting hole for bare-root roses. Spread the roots over the mound to encourage them to grow outward. The bud union should be just below the level of the surrounding ground.
Fill the hole halfway with soil. Add slow-release formula fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the packaging. Water to help the food get into the roots.
Press down to pack the soil. Water again until the soil around the rose bush is moist.
Plant rose bushes that have roots in holes that are 6 inches larger than the nursery container. Cut the container off unless it's the type that can be planted in the ground with the bush.
Water the roots to keep them moist, then backfill the hole with the removed soil. Mound the soil around the base of the rose plants to promote good drainage.
Spread 3 inches of mulch around the bottom of each rose plant. It will retain moisture and keep weeds away. Keep the mulch 6 inches from the base to form a watering basin.
Water the rose bushes deeply to get the roots actively growing and settle the soil. Water every other day for the first three to four months after planting. Pay close attention to bare-root roses because they have a weak root system. Use a sprinkler hose with tiny holes in it. The mist is better than a strong stream of water.