Easy Steps To Bare Root Rose Planting

'Miracle on the Hudson' at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning 'Best Overall category

Miracle_W14“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 Flying North for the Summer and Other Signs of Spring Will Be Here Soon

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 -8º 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 climates? Canadian Honkers heading north, the first robin and little crocuses peaking out of melting snow.

'Miracle on the Hudson' at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning 'Best Overall category
‘Miracle on the Hudson’ at The Biltmore the day it swept the show winning ‘Best Overall category

Tell Your Local Independent Garden Center (IGC) The Roses You Want

Listen, many folks who order roses for Independent Garden Centers (IGC) order what they feel is the ‘safe bet’ and only order traditional roses that they think will sell. And then they only carry a limited number of popular varieties like ‘Mr. Lincoln’, ‘Peace’, or ‘Queen Elizabeth’, and KnockOuts®. JuliaChild_W14Lovely as they are, what if you want ‘Neil Diamond’, ‘Julia Child’, ‘Francis Meilland’ or Sunblaze® Miniature Roses?

Star Roses and Plants 'Francis Meilland'
Star Roses and Plants ‘Francis Meilland’

Or even ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ the Certified Rose hybridized by Robert Neil Rippitoe that swept the show at The Biltmore Estate  when I was a judge at the International Rose Trials. Question, will your IGC have them? Probably not, if the person ordering roses, as they say, “doesn’t know roses” which 9 times out of ten is the case, sometimes they just go down the Weeks Roses and the Star Roses order form and choose roses based on names they like. I know this for a fact based on my investigations. My suggestion is that you learn who places orders for roses at your favorite Independent Garden Centers (IGC); after identifying roses you want from studying the Star Roses and Plants, and Weeks Roses online catalog or any of the catalogs below then ask them to order these roses for you. But you have to do this a season ahead of when you want these roses.

If you are a Consulting Rosarian work with the ordering department of your local IGC to order roses based on the American Rose Society’s Handbook for Selecting Roses rating system or getting the varieties of roses you want locally in your Independent Garden Centers is not going to happen by itself.

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 nursery and IGC,  that has many of the roses you see pictures of all winter on the Internet that sell roses in 3-5 gallon potted containers then you need to have placed your orders from your favorite rose catalog listed below so your bare root rose will arrive after the last hard freeze for your USDA plant hardiness zone.

Susan Fox, Speaker at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show
Susan Fox, Speaker at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Roses that will be at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show

Have you been dreaming  and planning from the selection of what you see in the magnificent Star Roses and Plants online catalog and the Weeks Roses Catalog or one of the catalogs listed below, then you better get used to the ease of ordering and planting a bare root rose. Because the roses you want may 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 catalog sellers of roses are offering free shipping if you order through the end of February. 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.

Weeks Roses 2014

Roses® and Plants/Conard-Pyle

Certified Roses, Inc.

Proven Winners (Oso Easy Landscape Roses)

For Love of Roses (Miniature Roses)

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. 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 over $100.00, etc. so you can call to see if there are special offers going on.

Bar Root Roses Arriving Early
Bare Root Roses Arriving Early

Planting A Bare Root Rose

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. First identify your Plant Hardiness Zone. I am in planting zone 5b according to PlantMaps and  according to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map I am in zone 6a. Most shippers of plants will ask you your zip code and identify your plant hardiness zone so they will ship to you in after the last possible chance of a hard freeze. If you receive your plants early you can plant them in pots.

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 early.

Look for and expect grade 1 roses:

Unpacking Bare Root Roses

  • It’s key that you unpack them immediately
  • Most shippers include very good instructions with their roses
  • Your new bare root rose should never be allowed to become dry.
  • Immediately place your roses in a large bucket of water
  • I used Haven Brands Moo-Poo Tea to soak my roses


  •  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.

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 growers 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 if you want the kinds of roses you see and can only dream of in the Weeks Roses, Star Roses and Plants, and Certified Flip Online Wholesale Catalogs then let’s become one with the bare root planting process. It’s easy, fun and rewarding. Its not too late to order from the retail bare root sellers of their roses.

'Honorine' at The Biltmore Last Year
‘Honorine’ at The Biltmore Last Year

Happy Ordering Online. Shop for free shipping deals and coupons. I’ll be doing presentations at The Chicago Flower & Garden Show and the American Rose Society is offering Continuing Education credit for the presentations for those of you who need to keep up you Consulting Rosarian designations. Richard and I will have the forms at our presentations. See you at the show!






The Love Language of Roses

Star Roses 'RadRazz' A KnockOut Kissed with Ice Crystals
Oso Easy 'Cherry Pie' by Proven Winners
Oso Easy ‘Cherry Pie’ by Proven Winners

“All of us blossom when we feel loved and wither when we do not feel loved.”
― Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages for Singles

Roses have a Love Language expressed by their color. This Valentine’s Day let your roses do the talking, Second That Emotion with a rose. Do you know what the color of a rose says when you give it? In the Book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman, Chapman explains that each of us has a love language. And its really important to understand how each of us interpret expressions of love toward each other.

Words of Affirmation

Mark Twain once said “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Appreciation is one of the most important things to someone whose love language is  based on “Words of Affirmation.” Simple compliments like, “You you look so pretty,” or “You mean so much to me! I can’t wait to see you,” are all someone needs to hear to feel loved. “Words of Affirmation” can also include just offering words of encouragement that lead to confidence building in a loved one. So if  your Valentines love language is “Words of Affirmations,” you might give them red roses and whisper “I love you and I desire you.” Your love languages are singing from the same hymnal with red roses and words of affirmation.

Veterans Honor, Hybrid Tea
Veterans Honor, Hybrid Tea

A red rose is an expression of love. Red roses convey deep emotions – love, longing and desire. Red Roses can also indicate respect, admiration and devotion. The number of red roses has romantic significance. 12 red roses is the most popular and means “Be mine” and “I love you”

Quality Time

Quality time is about spending time and involves doing things together. Many people feel loved when they can share experiences, thoughts feelings and desires. Communication and deep personal sharing draws a couple closer on many levels. Being sure to set time aside to spend quality one-on-one time together will ensure a happy marriage. Now this love language is very easy for me it has OUI Theory written all over. I live it every day. If you haven’t read that post its time you did because it works. If your love’s love language is about spending quality time together then orange roses may be a winner signifying the time spent together  can lead from a warm glow to a fiery passion. Here’s my perfect example for Big Daddy, “Darling, I would love a new Rio Samba, About Face, and Coretta Scott King and OUI can plant them together, Monday when I am at work,” see how that works?

Fragrant Cloud, Gaga's Garden
Fragrant Cloud, Gaga’s Garden

Orange Roses:

Remind us of the sun, a fiery blaze, signifying passion and energy. Orange roses can be used to express intense desire, pride and fervor. They also convey a sense of fascination, rivaling only the red roses as messengers of passion in romance.

Receiving Gifts

Gift are often meant to be a symbol of our love. If  this is your love language, you are more likely to treasure any gift as an expression of love and devotion. People who speak this love language often feel that a lack of receiving gifts represents a lack of love from their mate. This love language is easy to learn. Be sure to understand your partners attitude about money before you make an assumption she or he wants to receieve gifts. Making an assumption your loved one wants to receive gifts to feel loved when really they are worried about finances can lead to serious financial misunderstandings. That’s what learning each other’s love language is all about. A person who feels receiving gifts is a sign of feeling loved sees it as a sign that you are investing the money not in gifts but in deepening the relationship so the gift does not necessarily have to cost a lot of money. It is often the thought that counts. The perfect Valentine’s plan may be a heart necklace and a bouquet of pink roses indicating admiration, joy in your relationship and deep gratitude for all that she does for you.

Raindrops on Roses
Raindrops on Roses

Pink Roses:

Pink roses range in color from baby’s breath pink to smoldering fuchsia. They cover a range of emotions from admiration, joy and gratitude and can also be indicative of sweetness and innocence. Deep pink rose blooms convey deep gratitude and appreciation. Pink roses can convey elegance and grace.

Acts of Service

I’m sure you have heard the expression “actions speak louder than words.” The person who feels loved by Acts of Service lives by this rule. Simple chores around the house can be an undeniable expression of love. Even simple things like laundry and taking out the trash require some form of planning, time, effort, and energy. It’s important to find out what little thing you can do for each other that would really show that you care enough to get involved in the day to day mundane chores and help out with it. This shows you care enough to do it and goes a long way when your loved one values Acts of Service in their love language. A wonderful Valentine’s Day could be waxing the car and a bouquet of lavender roses for her or for him taking all those shirts from the laundry basket to the dry cleaners and getting them done and back before he knows it.

Night Owl Spray in the fall rose garden
Night Owl Spray in the fall rose garden

Lavender Roses:

A Lavender rose like its color conveys enchantment. It also expresses “love at first sight.” Darker shades of lavender roses (close to purple) convey a sense of regal majesty, splendor, fascination and adoration.

Physical Touch

Many people feel the most loved when they receive physical contact from their partner. For anyone who speaks this love language they want to feel human touch. Its important to remember that this love language is different for everyone. That way you can make the most of your hugging, kissing, cuddling and other physical contacts. For passion red roses simply are the rose of choice. They are the ultimate symbol.

Lavaglut Florabunda
Lavaglut Florabunda

The Red Rose

Red roses reflect expressions of love. Red roses convey deep emotions – love, longing and desire. Red Roses can also indicate respect, admiration and devotion. The number of red roses has romantic significance. 12 red roses is the most popular and means “Be mine” and “I love you”



Here are wonderful ideas for our friends

Golden Showers, Gaga's Garden
Golden Showers, Gaga’s Garden

Yellow Roses:

Yellow roses are an expression of exuberance. Yellow roses evoke sunny feelings of joy, warmth and welcome. They are symbols of friendship and caring. The yellow rose, like the other roses, does not carry an undertone of romance. It indicates purely platonic emotions.






Iceberg after the Rain with Bees Visiting
Iceberg after the Rain with Bees Visiting

White Roses:

White is the color of purity, chastity and innocence. White flowers mean new beginnings, ideal for first-time bride walking down the aisle. White flowers can convey sympathy or humility, and indicative of spirituality.



The East Rose Garden
The East Rose Garden





Mixed Bouquet Roses: mixing different colors of blooms can send a purposefully mixed message. For example sending red and white could mean I love you intensely, while my intensions are honorable.