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Site Selection, Bed Preparation and Planting of Roses

Not all rose plantings are successful because there is more to planting roses than digging a hole, spreading out the roots, and replacing the soil. Before you remove any soil, consider several things:

  1. Has the soil already grown roses for many years?
  2. Does the soil need improving?
  3. Is the site suitable for roses?

The first step is to pick the right spot. Plenty of sun is required to produce top quality roses, but light shade during early afternoon is beneficial. Roses cannot stand deep and continuous shade. Shelter from cold wind is helpful. A nearby hedge or fence is useful, but it should not be close enough to shade the bushes. Avoid planting in the lowest part of the garden if it is a "frost pocket." Roses do not thrive in exposed, low-lying sites.

Plenty of air is required to produce healthy plants.

Bush and standard roses do not like being shut in by walls and overhanging plants. Roses cannot tolerate being planted under trees.

Suitable soil is necessary, and fortunately this can be achieved in nearly all gardens. Ideally, it should be a medium loam, with free internal drainage, slightly acid, and rich in organic matter and fertilizer nutrients. A high clay content is not necessary and can be harmful if poor drainage occurs. A high lime content is almost impossible to overcome. Free drainage is necessary. Roses cannot withstand being waterlogged.

Instructions for preparing a raised rose planter bed are shown later in this publication. Most all plantings would benefit from the raised-bed concept. Prepare the soil in the fall, whether for fall or spring planting. This will allow time for "settling." The medium within the planter should be a 1-1-1 mixture of topsoil, builders sand, and organic matter. The organic matter could be decayed sawdust, peat moss, or pine bark fines. Soil test to determine the proper amount of lime and fertilizer to add to the bed. Lime and

phosphorus can be added in the fall, while other elements should be added at the time of planting or when growth begins in the spring.

Spacing. Space hybrid teas, grandifloras, and polyanthas 3 feet X 3 feet in the bed.

Space floribundas 4 feet X 4 feet. Space miniature roses 1 foot apart. Plant hybrid perpetuals 5 feet apart, and climbers at least 10 feet apart.

Plant Roses Carefully. If you're planting a few roses, dig individual planting holes. Make holes at least twice the size of the root mass and 12 inches deep. For a large number of roses in a continuous bed, prepare bed by spading soil to a depth of about 12 inches. Dig planting holes in the prepared bed.

Make a small mound of prepared soil in the planting hole. Spread the roots over the mound and set plant to proper depth. Backfill the planting hole with prepared soil, and firm with hands. Water the soil thoroughly immediately after planting. Avoid planting too high or too deep.

Examine the canes carefully for proper pruning before planting. Canes should be cut at an angle approximately one-fourth inch above a node. To prevent a delay in flowering, do not cut canes shorter than 10 inches.

To help conserve soil moisture and aid in successful reestablishment, mulch newly planted roses with a 4- to 6-inch layer of pine straw or pine bark. During dry periods, water thoroughly every 8 to 12 days.

Fertilizing. Soil tests should be made before fertilizing plants. Fertilize after plants initiate growth. Depending on the type of fertilizer being used, applications may be required every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season to sustain good growth. Do not

fertilize plants after August. The fertilizer should be watered into the soil immediately after application. Follow the soil test recommendations.

This information was taken from Extension Publication 529, Roses in Mississippi.

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