As the first hints of spring arrive in many parts of the country, gardeners considering adding rose bushes to their garden may question when is the best time to plant roses. After all, many shrubs and perennials are planted in the fall, so have they missed their planting window? Not at all! Whether you purchase bare root roses or container grown roses, spring is an ideal time to plant most roses.
Roses are one of the oldest and most loved plants, with some varieties of the so-called "old garden roses" dating back to the Middle Ages. There's a wide range of rose types, from the long-stemmed beauties seen in the florist shops to the wild roses growing along the seacoast and spilling over backyard fences.
Before planting roses, choose your spot carefully. Roses will be happier and healthier if given the optimum conditions. They require full sun, defined as six or more hours per day of direct sunshine. Roses planted in an area that receives morning sun will do the best, so an eastern or southeastern exposure is ideal. Be sure that the area has good air circulation.
Avoid planting roses too close to buildings or near large trees. Both conditions can encourage the growth of molds, mildews and other microbes that cause black spot, a leaf disease that can weaken or kill the plant. Roses like rich soil and love compost, especially composted horse or cow manure. Add as much compost as you can to the soil prior to planting. As with all composts, be sure that any compost added to the soil has had a chance to break down. Never add fresh manure directly to the soil or near plants as it can burn tender roots.
When Is the Best Time to Plant Roses
Gardeners asking, "When is the best time to plant roses?", need first to consider their gardening zone. If you don't know your gardening zone, there are many handy online calculators that let you type in your zip code to find your zone. Your zone is based on the average dates of the first frost of the season in the fall and the last frost for the year in the spring. Roses should be planted after all danger of a hard frost is past, and when the soil is workable. Soil that's too frozen or sopping wet and muddy from spring rains shouldn't be worked but left alone until the proper planting time. In most temperate garden zones, the best time to plant roses is in early spring, usually sometime between late February and early April.
Special Considerations for Bare Root Roses
Keep in mind that bare root roses should be planted as early in the season as possible. Bare root roses are the kinds you see in boxes, or usually the types shipped via mail order. These should be planted while still dormant, or before shoots begin to grow off of the main branch. While you can and should plant a bare root rose that's already begun to sprout, it's better for the plant if it's in the ground before it begins to put the energy into growing new leaves and stems. There are special instructions for planting bare root roses. They're planted a little differently from potted or container grown roses and are sometimes a bit harder to get going. Be sure to review the guidelines for rose planting from Ohio State University.