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Planting Roses in Fall


Remove the mounded soil around the rose bush over a period of weeks. Remove 1 to 2 inches a week until the mound is gone. Wait until daytime temperatures are reliably over 50 degrees F and all chance of frost has passed.

You can substitute straw for the mounded soil. Cover all but the very top of the rose bush with straw.

Amending your soil before planting your roses will give you healthier roses and increase their life span.

Eastern exposure is the best for roses. The sun quickly evaporates dew from roses with eastern exposure limiting the chances of powdery mildew and black spot.


Too much shade will cause your rosebush to grow leggy instead of compact and it will not produce flowers.

Consistently soggy soil will cause root rot and eventual death of your rose bush.

Gardeners who grow roses often disagree as to the best time for planting. Some maintain that spring planting gives healthier more vigorous rose bushes while others say that planting in fall gives roses a chance to grow an extensive root system without the stress of also growing leaves and flowers. You can plant both bare root and container grown roses in fall just be sure to give them winter protection. Place your rose where it will receive plenty of sun, in well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Doing so will keep your rose healthier and allow it to recover from insect infestations or disease.

Choose a spot in full sun with enough room for the rose to spread to its mature size without being crowded. If you don't have a spot in full sun choose a spot that receives between 6 and 8 hours of direct sun.

Do a soil test on the soil in the area you will be planting roses. You can get the equipment needed for the soil test from your local extension office. Your extension office will than send the sample to a laboratory for testing.

Amend (add nutrients and organic matter to increase the fertility) the soil in the area you will be planting roses using the results from the soil test as a guide. Your extension office can tell you what to add to your soil and where to find it in your area.

Work compost into the top 12 inches of soil in the spot you will be planting roses. The soil should have the same texture as dry brownie mix.

Dig a hole approximately 15 inches deep and 18 inches wide for the rose bush.

Mix 3 ounces of superphosphate (this encourages root growth) and enough compost to make a 50/50 compost/soil mix to the soil you removed from the hole.

Place the rose bush in the hole. Be sure the rose is planted at the same depth it was in the container. You may have to add soil/compost mix under the root ball to bring the rose to the correct depth.

Back fill the hole with the 50/50 soil/compost mix until the hole is completely filled. Tamp the soil down carefully around the root ball to eliminate air pockets.

Water the rose well. Use 5 to 10 gallons of water for this initial watering. As the water drains the soil will settle further creating a depression around the base of the rose bush. Add more soil around the rose until the soil is level.

Prune off broken or dead branches. Remove as little as possible as you will need to prune again in spring after new growth emerges.

Take the remaining soil/compost mix and mound it halfway up around the rose bush. You are covering the bottom half of the rose bush (branches and stems) with dirt to give the rose added winter protection.

Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the rose bush (over the root ball) to prevent the roots from freezing and to keep the soil moist.

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