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How to Plant Roses in Arizona

rose rose image by trottier samuel from

Sunny Arizona has a large commercial rose economy, and for good reason. Heat prevents disease and insects that plague roses in cooler areas of the country, and the sunshine keeps roses growing year-round. But Arizona also has clay soil and sparse rainfall throughout much of the year, despite the summer monsoon. Planting a rose correctly keeps it happy and blooming, even in Arizona's triple-digit heat.

Creek - Sedona, Arizona image by St Clair Photography from

Determine the planting site and season. Give roses in the low desert an eastern exposure or protection from hot afternoon sun. Plant bare-root roses from mid-December to January in the low deserts of southern and western Arizona, suggests the University of Arizona Extension. In northern and northeast Arizona, plant bare-root roses in March and April. Plant container-grown roses any time of year.

roses thorns. image by Jakub Niezabitowski from

Examine the available rose bushes and pick one with at least three plump, finger-thick canes and a large grafting bud between the canes and roots. For bare-root roses, remove the rose from its packaging and soak the entire plant. The Mesa-East Valley Rose Society recommends soaking a bare-root rose for at least 24 hours.

Prune away any pencil-thick canes. For bare-root roses, trim any broken roots and cut ½ inch from the end of each root to encourage growth. Cut the top canes of bare-root roses to 6 inches, leaving roughly five buds--raised oval areas--on each cane.

shovel image by Gudellaphoto from

Dig a hole 24 inches wide and 18 to 24 inches deep for bare-root roses. Make a mound in the hole to support the bare-root rose and set it in the planting hole. For container-grown roses, dig a hole twice as wide as the container and as deep, and loosen any circling or matted roots before planting. Amend clay soil with a 1:1 combination of mulch or compost. Backfill around the rose, keeping the grafting bud 2 inches above ground level.

water spout image by tomcat2170 from

Mulch around the rose to a depth of 4 inches. Cover the grafting bud of bare-root roses with mulch until new growth appears. The University of Arizona Extension recommends watering daily for the first week.


Ideally the grafting union will be 1 inch above the soil. Set the union 2 inches above the soil when planting to allow for settling.


Do not use compost or amendments with vermiculite, as it can bond with clay soil and create hard pockets of earth.

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