Roses are purchased as a bare root in a plastic package or in pots. If purchased bare root, open the package and rinse off all sawdust or other packing material from the roots. Fill a bucket with warm water and soak the roots of the plant for a few hours before planting, but no more than 24 hours. When choosing a new rose bush from a nursery, choose plants with at least three thick succulent stems. Bare root plants should be dormant when purchased, and potted plants can be planted anytime but late winter is the best time to plant roses.
Locate an area in the garden that gets at least four hours of sun each day and has good air circulation. Roses like well-drained sandy loam with lots of organic matter.
Dig a hole so the rose bush sits at the same level it was in the nursery or nursery pot. You can see the previous soil line on the plant right above the roots on the main stem. If you can't see the soil line on a bare root plant, plant where the graft bud is just above the soil level. The graft bud is the swollen area right above the roots where the plant was grafted to the rootstock. Antique roses will not have a graft bud but are rarely sold bare root, so plant at same level as in the nursery pot unless small surface roots are showing, then plant slightly deeper.
Mix enough well rotted compost into the planting mix so that the planting mix is one-half soil and one-half compost.
Place the rose bush in the hole and slowly add planting mix while running a small stream of water into the hole. This method will prevent air pockets from forming around the roots. Tamp soil down lightly around plant.
Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the rose bush covering the root zone. Leave a 1-inch space between the rose plant and the mulch to prevent disease.