How to Plant Potted Roses


With their silky petals and delicate fragrance, roses are a favorite plant in many flower gardens. Despite their fragile appearance, most roses are quite hardy; and with proper care, they will grow for many seasons. Roses purchased in pots can be planted in late fall or early winter. Part of growing a healthy rose--whether potted or bare root--is preparing the site a month before planting. Plant a rose in the morning when the wind is low; it will also allow any water on the leaves to dry before night.

Preparing the Site

Step 1

Select a site in which to plant the container rose. All roses need full sunlight for at least 6 hours every day. The soil must be rich, well-draining and moisture-retentive.. Roses dislike being crowded and need plenty of room to grow.

Step 2

Test the soil. Roses do best in soil with a pH level of 5.8 to 6.8. Use a soil test kit--or take a sample into your local extension agent--about a month before planting. Depending upon the test results, add hydrated lime or granulated sulfur to the soil. Amend the garden soil a month before planting the rose. Iowa State University Extension offers more information on soil pH.

Step 3

Enrich the soil about 2 weeks before planting. Dig up the soil to 2 feet deep and add generous amounts of well-rotted compost or manure.

Planting the Rose

Step 1

Plant the potted rose in the garden. Dig a hole that is 2 feet by 2 feet; place the soil in large container, a wheel barrow or on a tarp. Estimate how much soil is there-it doesn't have to be exact-and add that amount of peat moss, mulch and potting soil to the container. Mix well to make a new potting soil.

Step 2

Fill the hole about half full with the new potting soil. Add water to the hole until it is completely full. Use the shovel to mix the potting soil and water; the water/soil mix will have the consistency of a loose cake batter.

Step 3

Lay a large stick across the opening of the hole to use as a guide. Remove the rose from its container and place it in the hole, with the bud union--the joint where the roots meet the canes--either at or below the stick level. All-American Rose's regional growing guide (see Resources) tells you what level to hold the bud union at, based on your location.

Step 4

Shovel the potting mixture from the container into the hole, until the hole is filled and the water/soil mix in the hole is firm. Lay mulch to a layer of 2 inches around the rose and build up around the bud union. Build a circular dam 1 foot away from the rose with the mulch to retain water. When new growth appears on the rose, begin removing the mulch from the bud.

Step 5

Water the newly planted rose deeply every morning for several weeks. Avoid getting the leaves wet by directing the water towards the roots. When new leaves appear, reduce the watering to 1 inch of water each week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gardening gloves while handling roses to protect your hands.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil testing kit
  • Shovel
  • Lime or Sulfur, depending upon the soil's pH level
  • Compost or decayed manure
  • Large container, wheelbarrow or tarp
  • Peat moss
  • Mulch
  • Potting soil
  • Large stick
  • Gardening gloves
  • Water


  • Ortho's All About Roses: Dr. Tommy Cairns; 1999
  • Botanica's Roses; William A. Grant, Chief Consultant; 2000

Who Can Help

  • All-American Rose Selection: Regional Growing Guide
  • Iowa State University Extension: How to Change Your Soil's pH
Keywords: perennials, potted roses, planting

About this Author

After attending Hardin Simmons University, Kay Dean finished her formal education with the Institute of Children's Literature. Since 1995, Dean has written for such publications as "PB&J," Disney’s "Family Fun," "ParentLife," "Living With Teenagers" and Thomas Nelson’s NY Times bestselling "Resolve." An avid gardener for 25 years, her experience includes organic food gardening, ornamental plants, shrubs and trees, with a special love for roses.