“It seems that Canadian Geese are one of the most followed bird groups in the US. Their overhead migrations are a sure sign of the changing of the seasons.”      Lisa Shea

Canadian Honker in Flight

Canadian Honker in Flight

Nothing can lull us into thinking we have plenty of time to get ready for spring than the heater running full blast and a few snow flurries swirling around. I was idly starring out the window when what to my wandering eyes should appear? No! Not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Hundreds if not thousands of majestic Canadian Honkers flying in their classic V-shaped formation due north signaling the transition from winter to spring. And their haunting sound echoing across the cold, brown corn fields of Illinois. Guess what can hurl me out of my winter doldrums faster than a jet propelled water slide? That’s right! Canadian honkers on their way back to what we are thinking is still the frozen tundra. Images of icebergs floating in Lake Michigan appeared in my mind and I think “what’s the deal with these geese?”

Don’t they know its still winter? It was 12 degrees the other day. Do they know something I don’t? Obviously they do. They know spring is just around the corner and they don’t want to be caught in the wrong zone at the wrong time of year. What are three sure signs that spring is not far off  in northern climate? Canadian Honkers heading north, the first robin and little crocuses peaking out of melting snow.


Signs of Spring Daffodils

Signs of Spring Daffodils

Let’s talk about what needs to be well underway for your spring rose garden. If you are in the country and cannot count on running down to your local well-stocked garden center that has many of the roses you want in 3-5 gallon potted containers then you need to have placed your orders from your favorite rose catalog.

Does your nursery only offer Knock-out Roses?

Or and that is a big or your local nursery only now offers Knock-out roses and you have been dreaming from the magnificent Weeks Roses Catalog or one of the catalogs listed below, then you better get used to the ease of planting a bare root rose. Because the roses you want will only be available from the mail order suppliers. Here are my favorite must have catalogs for selecting the most beautiful roses today. Several of the suppliers were still offering free shipping through February 15th. You Pinterest fans there is no better place to start pinning then the list of online catalogs I have just linked you to below. Let the pinning begin. But better yet rather than pin roses why not plant some bare root roses. It’s easy.

Chamblee Roses

Witherspoon Roses

Edmunds Roses 2013

Antique Rose Emporium

Jackson & Perkins Roses

Heirloom Roses

David Austin Roses

S & W Roses

Rogue Valley Roses

Weeks Roses 2013

Star Roses 2013

Certified Roses, Inc.

Weeks Roses And Star Roses are wholesaler’s. Here’s how to enhance your rose shopping experience, you could go to the online wholesale catalogs to identify the roses you want then locate a supplier who has the rose you have identified then order it if you cannot locate it your garden center. And folks I am finding many nurseries are starting to carry less and less hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, miniatures, etc in favor of the ever popular Knock-out roses due to a misconception that growing roses is more difficult than it is.You need to get a move on. As of the first week in April I am still receiving email offers for free shipping, etc. on orders of over $100.00, etc. so you can call to see if there are special offers going on.

Julia Child

Julia Child

I want you to feel confident planting a bare root rose so I am going to go over planting and care of a bare root rose. I am in planting zone 5b according to PlantMaps and S&W Green houses, White House, TN, where I ordered some roses are outside my planting zone. They are located in planting zone 6b so they shipped earlier than I really would like to receive my plants. But I just planted them and protected them. Now I want you all to realize that when I put the zip codes for both my area and S&W in PlantMaps and the USDA Plant Zone Map Agricultural Research site they render different planting zones so you can give it a try and see what planting zone your zip code shows up as. I like Plant Maps because it gives you the last frost date and drought information and is a treasure trove of information you need.

Some of our savvy rose friends plant them in pots and let them harden by placing them in their green houses. I have bought potted roses and hardened them by taking them inside the warmer garage each night and taken them out in the sunshine until they acclimate to cooler temperatures than the greenhouses they just came from. However, let’s talk about what I did with the bare root roses I received from Tennessee grower S&W.

First of all the S & W roses were grade 1 roses and they arrived in perfect condition.

  • It’s key that you unpack them immediately
  • S &W includes very good instructions with their roses
  • Immediately place your roses in a large bucket of water
  • I used Haven Brands Moo-Poo Tea to soak my roses

Your new bare root rose should never be allowed to become dry. Before planting, broken or dead roots and stems may be gently pruned. Now dig a hole large enough and properly shaped for each rose on 2 ½ to 3-foot centers. Minor pruning of long roots is fine as well. Prepare the mound in the bottom of the hole that allows the roots to be draped around it. This provides a firm base for the plant and minimizes captured air. The mound should be a height that would allow the bud union to set at ground level. While no fertilizer is used in the planting process, a cup of bone meal can be mixed in the bottom of the hole and in the mounded cone as well and I add plenty of Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss.

After arranging the roots around the cone, cover the roots with a small amount of soil and check the plant position of the plant. Fill the hole with water and let the dirt settle, repeat until ground level. With proper drainage, the water will settle in a few minutes. Firm the soil with your hands, do not stamp in. Mound loose soil or mulch around the bud union. Then after the possibility of freezing temperatures pass slowly remove the mulch until the bud union is completely exposed to the warmth of the sun.

Sunsprite Planted as A Bare Root Rose

Sunsprite Planted as A Bare Root Rose

Planting Bare Root Roses Is Easy

Many folks simply do not know that the lovely potted 3-5 gallon roses you see at the nursery and garden centers are arriving now and earlier from my favorite grower like Week’s Nursery as bare root and they are planting them in 3-5 gallon pots to leaf out and grow strong and for you to buy in a matter of a few weeks later.

There is no reason for you to be afraid of planting your own bare root roses and if you want the kinds of roses you see and can only dream of in the Weeks Catalog then let’s become one with the bare root planting process. It’s easy, fun and rewarding.








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3 Responses to Signs of Spring and How To Plant A Bare Root Rose

  1. Chris says:

    Great info and tips here Susan! Thanks for sharing your Canadian Honkers with the world!

  2. Linda says:

    Suzy, we get lots of the Canada Geese out here in west TX also. They bed down on our little pond in town. Lots of info you included in your post. Hope you have another great crop of roses this year!

    • Gaga says:

      Clearly I need you to get out there, don’t drown and snap a picture of a reaL Canadian Honker. The geese girls don’t really look like Canadian Honkers now do they? And look at their wardrobe, they look a mess.

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