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Care & Planting of Rose Bushes

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017
An elegant rose bush.

Rose bushes are popular in flower gardens due to the variety of plant types and colors available. Roses are planted as either bare root where there is no soil around the roots or from container grown specimens. Proper planting and care of a rose bush will yield a beautiful plant that can be enjoyed throughout the summer season.

Planting Location

Choose a planting location that has a well draining and nutrient rich soil. Standing water increases the chance of disease and death to rose bushes. The location should receive six hours or more of direct sunlight, preferably with an eastern exposure. Find a location that is not shaded by buildings or large trees as this will increase the amount of sunlight and air circulation for the plants.

Site Preparation

Test the soil pH with a home test kit to verify the pH is 5.5 to 7.0. Prepare the planting soil by digging it to a depth of 12 inches and mixing in 2 to 3 inches of organic compost. This will increase the nutrient value and water draining ability of the soil. Add ground rock sulfur to the soil to lower the pH number or limestone to raise the pH number. Let the soil rest for two weeks prior to planting after amending the soil with sulfur.

How to Plant

Plant rose bushes in early spring for best results with root establishment. Dig a hole that is 18 inches wide and 15 inches deep and form a mound at the bottom of the hole when planting a bare root bush. Place the rose into the hole with the roots spread out over the mound making sure the graft point on the lower stem is just above ground level. Carefully fill the hole with soil and gently pack it around the roots. Dig a hole for container grown roses that is the same depth and slightly wider than the container the rose came in. Remove the rose bush and set it in the hole making sure the graft point is just above ground level. Gently fill the hole with soil and pack in place. Water the soil around the rose bush generously after planting.

General Care

Water rose bushes at the soil level with one inch of water weekly for the first growing season to assist with root establishment. Apply supplemental water to the soil around rose bushes the following years when the rainfall amounts are less than one inch per week. Always make sure to apply water to the soil and not directly on the plant. Apply a two inch layer of mulch around plants to reduce weed growth and assist with moisture retention. Fertilize rose bushes in mid-spring with a 5-10-10 fertilizer and repeat the application in early summer. Prune rose bushes in early spring by removing dead and diseased branches back to a live bud. This will force the plant to grow a new shoot. Cut to remove one or two old heavy branches from the plant each year.

Winter Care

Rose bushes require winter protection in areas with harsh cold winters. Create a 10 to 12 inch hill around the bush with a well draining soil or compost mix after the first hard frost of the season. Do not scrape soil from the garden bed to create the hill as this will cause the roots to be exposed or damaged. Place evergreen branches over the soil mounds to insulate the plant once the ground is frozen. Remove the soil hill in early spring as the ground begins to thaw.


About the Author


Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.