Q&A: Planting Roses in February

Follow these tips on planting bare-root roses.

rose06_Spellbound

Timely care of your bareroot roses helps ensure robust bloom later in the year. Here, 'Spellbound'. — photo courtesy of Jackson & Perkins

Q: I just bought a bare-root hybrid tea. It's only February, and although we're in Zone 8, there are still several weeks left until we can normally expect spring here. Should I wait to plant it? If not, how should I store it?

A: If the soil isn't frozen, go ahead and plant it now. Bare-root roses are still dormant and can be planted in very early spring or late winter, providing your soil isn't frozen. If the soil is frozen, store your rose in a dark, cool place in its original packaging; don't let the roots dry out.

When you're ready to plant in the ground, remove the package and soak the roots in a bucket of water for 24 hours. Then dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots without cramping and place a small mound of soil on the bottom of the hole. Drape the roots over the mound so they hang naturally. Position the plant on the peak of the mound so that the graft union will be just above ground level in mild climates and about two inches below the surface in cold climates. Tamp the soil around the roots, then water your newly planted rose to help it settle into its new home.

If, however, your soil is frozen and a thaw isn't imminent, plant your rose temporarily in an extra-large container.

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