Bare root roses are purchased in department stores or nurseries early in the spring planting season. The tops are dormant and the roots are packed in a plastic bag with the type of rose printed on the front. Roses purchased bare-root were removed from the nursery while dormant and had the roots drastically trimmed so they would fit in the bag. Then, the roots were packed in organic matter, such as sawdust, before they were wrapped in plastic and shipped. Purchase plump, healthy-looking dormant plants with three to five canes as soon as soil can be worked in the spring.
How to Grow Bare Root Roses
Remove rose plant from package and rinse off all packing material from roots. Soak roots in bucket of warm water overnight, but no longer than 24 hours. If unable to plant right away, keep wrapped and hold for up to a week in a refrigerator or cooler. Do not freeze.
Occasionally, roots are covered in wax to conserve moisture. This wax will degrade once the rose bush is planted.
Locate a planting site. Roses prefer at least 6 hours of sunlight each day and good air circulation to avoid fungal and mildew problems. Also, roses like even moisture so locate near a source of water.
Prepare planting area by removing weeds and incorporating compost into soil. Planting mixture should be half compost and half soil. The compost should be well rotted with no identifiable organic matter.
Dig hole so the rose bush is planted at the same depth it was planted in the nursery. Look for soil line at base of plant. Do not bury the graft, which is the offset part at the base of the plant where the rose is grafted to the rootstock. Burying the graft may cause the rootstock to grow instead of the graft. The grafted rose is what you want to grow and bloom. The rootstock may be from a disease-resistant rose with good root performance but a not an exceptional bloomer.
Plant rose in planting hole with roots comfortably spread out and back fill with compost soil mixture. Slowly add water to mixture to avoid creating air pockets around roots. Spread a 1-inch layer of mulch around base of plant, leaving a 1-inch space between the plant and the mulch so fungus cannot spread from the mulch to the plant. Water in well and keep moist.