Plant bare root roses for a surge of summery blooms

Karen Murphy

Garden expert, Tuesday, 22 November 2016

They may not look like much right now but planting bare root roses will reward you richly come the summer, says our gardening expert, Karen Murphy

While you can plant nice-looking potted roses all year round from garden centres, only at this time of year can you plant their poor old ugly cousins – bare root roses.

They may look like a rather unprepossessing pile of dry twigs and roots when they arrive in the post, but they are darn sight cheaper than potted versions, much better quality and establish much more easily in the garden.

With bare root plants, their roots have been left to roam free instead of being cooped up in a pot, so they’re healthier too. I’d always choose bare root if you want quality garden specimens, but they understandably look a little uninviting to all but the most discerning of gardeners if given as gifts!

Now, where to start when choosing a rose? You may already have your favourites for beauty or fragrance, but here I’ve included a sumptuous selection of different types, all with RHS Awards of Garden Merit so you can be sure they’ll perform well if looked after.

Shrub rose ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ has large, spicy-looking, ruffled, orange-yellow blooms with a matching fruity smell, and is great for containers. Climber ‘The Pilgrim’ likes a shady pergola and has a strong tea rose scent from its soft, yellow flower rosettes. Sprawling rambler ‘The Garland’ would look beautiful grown through a shady tree with clusters of creamy flowers in summer, followed by attractive, bright orange hips.

Once you get your roses, you must plant them as soon as possible. It’s the perfect time now, so you’ll be giving your plant the best possible start, with moist soil and a lengthy period of dormancy to
settle it in well. Dig some well-rotted manure or chicken pellets into your new intended planting spot and create a hole with plenty of room for your rose’s rootball. Place your bare root plant in, with the base of the stems just slightly below the surface of the hole. To gauge this, use a cane laid over the hole to measure where to plant. Now you can backfill the hole with soil, using your foot to gently firm it in each time you add a new layer.

Water well, then apply a mulch around your newly planted rose with bark or compost. In spring, add a dash of rose fertiliser to ensure a surge of blooms!


 3 ways to... improve your soil now








  1. Use leaf mould
    Improve the texture of soil and encourage worm activity by making leaf mould with collected
    fallen leaves.

  2. Mulch
    To keep plant roots warm and beds weed-free, mulch the surface with woodchip
    or bark.

  3. Dig in compost
    To keep soil from compacting and waterlogging, dig in lots of rich compost and rake over.


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