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How to Plant Roses in Arizona

By Kimberly Richardson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Roses grow well in Arizona's dry heat.
rose rose image by trottier samuel from Fotolia.com

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.

The climate is much cooler in Arizona's high country.
Creek - Sedona, Arizona image by St Clair Photography from Fotolia.com

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.

Wear thick gloves when handling roses.
roses thorns. image by Jakub Niezabitowski from Fotolia.com

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.

Dig a generous planting hole.
shovel image by Gudellaphoto from Fotolia.com

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.

Don't drown a new planting, but don't let the soil become dry.
water spout image by tomcat2170 from Fotolia.com

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.


Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Bucket of water (for bare-root roses)
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Compost or vermiculite-free soil amendment
  • Mulch


  • 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.

About the Author


Kimberly Richardson has been writing since 1995. She has written successful grants for local schools as well as articles for various websites, specializing in garden-related topics. Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and is enrolled in her local Master Gardener program.