How to pot bareroot roses?

reneek(GA - Zone 7B)June 13, 2007

Ok, I am kinda chickening out from direct planting the bareroot roses that I am expecting soon. Someone mentioned in another thread that she is going to pot her new roses. I wanted to know what I needed to do from start to finish to facilitate that. Keep in mind that I'm a newbie and totally clueless as to what I am doing. lol

The reason why I am chicken is because we are getting zero rainfall and the ground is a solid hard clay at the moment. I guess I can soak it then try to till it with the rototiller. On the other hand, can I realistically expect to keep roses in nursery pots from now until the fall??



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It's a little hot for bare-roots right now. You would be wise to put them in pots, making sure the pot is large enough with good potting soil. A pot will allow you to keep them in some shade which they will need in these hot days. Keep moist but not soppy wet. Just pretend your pot is the ground. Put a mound of soil in the middle to spread the roots over. Cover with more soil and water well. Keep it in some filtered sunlight. It is just too hot right now for bare-root roses.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 2:13PM
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All of my 60+ roses are currently living in pots. Almost all of them started their lives with me during the past 3 years either bare-root or as a mail-order band. Here's what a trusted rose friend told me to do, and it has worked very well for me.

My bare root roses are in the large,cheap plastic pots from Walmart -- the label on the side says that the pot holds 21 quarts of soil. The soil mix is one bag of Scotts Garden soil, an equal amount of peat moss, and some coarse sand or perlite. I mix this by hand in a large wheelbarrow. This size batch will plant 3 roses.

Line the bottom of the pot with a good handful or two of shredded mulch. Add your rose and fill with soil. Top off with an inch or so of the shredded mulch. Water well. Don't use a saucers under your pots.

This time of year, expect to water your potted roses every day, unless it rains in the evening. Protect your new bare root roses from the hot afternoon sun. Filtered sun, or morning sun and afternoon shade, should do fine.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 3:08PM
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reneek(GA - Zone 7B)

Thanks, Patricia and Hartwood. I have lots of three gallon pots and a couple of 5 gallons that I've saved along the way. I would still need to soak them for a week before I pot them right?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Maybe nobody will see your question, and I'm new at bare roots and the more refined aspects of rose growing, but I wouldn't want to soak mine that long if I didn't have to. I had to soak my 12 3 weeks (changed water twice) because of the Easter freeze and was having fits about it. They all survived, but I wonder if I could have gotten them in the ground sooner they might have taken off better. By the time I did get them in the ground, many had broken dormancy, kind of anemic looking shoots, some stayed and greened up, and others dried up and had to wait for replacement growth.

They told me here to soak them bundled, too, not to take the binding off or they would expand too much.

Anyway, I would think anywhere from 6 hours to 24 hours should be sufficient, see if one of the experts weighs in on this.

For anybody reading this, I had a horticultural student plant mine. She mixed the soil with compost in a wheelbarrow (I think), I told her the graft had to be at least 2 inches deep, then she did her thing. Some of the soil from where it was mounded has still formed a little conical shape on the rose where the canes join, my son doesn't know a whole lot about it, but he told me I should get it off of there. Which I might. It has kind of baked on, so after the next rain, I'll gently try to get it off. Maybe I should just leave things well enough alone.

It would be better not to have to pot them up, so I was told at the time because I was thinking about doing that, but in your situation, I don't see where you have much choice considering the alternative.

I would place the roots over mounded soil though and pack it in really snugly, partially fill the pot, press (can't very well firm with your foot like they say to), water, then fill the rest of the way, press in the remaining soil and water again.

Lucky you having a tiller. My son suggested I buy one but that would be silly for my small yard for one fairly sizeable and a couple smaller jobs. In your case, you'd have to get the moisture content just right or the stuff might damage your tiller. Chunks of clay get sticky and very hard to plant with, they do not break up as you probably know. I had no choice with a few things I had to plant by digging the regular way, get more than a foot or so deep and it's clay. Even if I did try to mix in fertilizer and/or compost, it would not have mixed well at all.

The only thing about growing roses for extended periods in pots, if you have a lot, is that it takes a lot of soil, and that much good quality potting soil would be pretty expensive for me. Plus they would be too heavy for me to move around, and even a plant dolly wouldn't be good enough for that if not on the level. I'd need one of those things from U haul, and still it would be heavy work.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 4:52PM
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I would not start with anything less than 5 gallons, JMHO.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 4:53PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

I wouldn't start with anything less than 5-gallons either, and with some (Palatine) I could only get one of the 5 into that size, the rest had to go into larger pots. And I gotta say, I don't do any of that fancy stuff when potting roses. I wet the potting mix (that's potting mix not potting soil, potting soil is way too heavy) before use. I put in some potting mix, a handful of triple super phosphate, a little more potting mix, the plant, work more potting mix around the roots, making sure that there are no air pockets. water, add more potting mix, water again, more potting mix (trying to bury the garft union), water. If the potting mix settles after a few days, I will add more, moist, mix to cover the graft. That's it. If they are in nursery pots, they will more than likely move to a larger, decorative, pot for the immediate future (and in many cases, permanently). Some start and end up in the largest pots. Many of my potted roses have rooted through the bottom of the pot, and that's OK with me.

Soak for a minimum of 24 hours. Longer if you have to.

Shade will be good at this time of year. You still have to do some kind of covering to keep the canes from drying out. That's the main reason bareroots fail.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 9:38PM
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brandyray(Coastal NC/8a)

This is just the info I needed! The 3 I ordered will be arriving this wk. I will soak them for a full day, then plant in a 5 gal pot w/ potting mix, sand (plenty of that here!) and mulch, and hope for the best. I don't plan to plant them in the ground until fall. Brandy

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 10:34PM
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Can I ask another question? Why 5 gal pots for temporary holding? I've got some bands that I put in quart pots. One I put in a gallon pot. They can go in the ground now once I get a spot dug out for them.

The reason I ask is that some the roots don't seem to fill in the whole 5 gal, then when you go to plant them, a lot of the soil in the bottom of the pot falls off anyway, it even happened with my gallon pots where I held newly rooted roses over all winter.

I can certainly understand 5 gal pots and larger if they are going to stay there for a significant length of time. It's a ways until fall so maybe it makes sense, they can put out a lot of root growth outdoors in 2/3 months. Otherwise, it means a lot bigger hole to dig and heavier lifting, more mix, etc. What is potting mix vs. potting soil? Any brand name in particular that I could get at Walmart, HD, Lowe's, etc.? Miracle Grow, Hyponex?

I think I figured out part of my own question. Bare roots are much different than bands and will need more room right away because they are a lot longer and will spread out more from the get go.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 11:34AM
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reneek(GA - Zone 7B)

Thanks everyone for the responses....could someone tell me how I would know to soak it longer than 24 hours? I know...dumb question....but I guess I'm trying to figure out the purpose of soaking in the first place.

I was able to get more 5 gallons pots from a gardening friend and I will follow the potting directions to the letter. I do have a great shady spot to place them. When is the earliest do you think that I should put them in the ground? September? October?

I wanted them in before things start to get too chilly. We usually get drenched with rainfall in November, so it will be nice to have the roses benefit from that too.

I do feel blessed to have that tiller and you are right, the clay is so ridiculous, I'm afraid it might damage it. We are so dry, the yard is developing cracks's kinda scary.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:26PM
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I think the reason some suggest 5 gallon pots is so the roots don't get cramped. I received 9 bare root Austins in the last 2 days and there's no way I can even remotely fit these huge root systems in 2 gallon pots. I'd have to squeeze these things into 5 gallon pots. I'm going to have to rethink my in ground planting situation because of this and maybe go with the Dollar Store laundry basket idea to provide shade for them in ground.

As for what month to plant them in ground in the fall I think that has to do with your weather. Plant them when it starts to cool down but at least 6 weeks before it gets really cold. In Georgia that may be October? I've never actually been there so maybe someone in your state can give you a better idea. Here in Texas it doesn't cool down until maybe November but we don't get any freezes until January or so.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 12:48PM
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I recommended the larger pots because the original questions was about bare root roses. Sometimes even a 5 gallon pot is a tight squeeze for the root systems on some bare roots.

As a general rule, I try to match the size of my pot to the projected size of the rose and its roots for the time it will be in the pot. My mini bands were potted this spring into 1 gallon pots. Most of these are doing well, but soon a couple of them are going to need a larger size.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:16PM
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reneek(GA - Zone 7B)

I agree with that Connie.....I got my bareroots from J&P and they are HUGE!!! With any luck, I will get them in the ground in four I hope my 5 gallon pots hold out until then! Thanks, Connie and Michelle!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 4:34PM
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reneek did you get any Jubilee Celebration from J&P? I got 2 yesterday and one had a root structure so large I had to take a 35 gallon garbage bag to line a 30 gallon plastic pot I had (from a tree I purchased) so that I had something I could soak it in. It didn't fit in any of the 5 gallon buckets or 10 gallon trash cans I have. Just nuts!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 5:55PM
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The two I got from Pickering soaked for two months (because I didn't get a round tuit) but the water was changed/added to on a regular basis since my pooches regarded the pail as a drinking fountain and I had to keep adding a gallon or more a day. I then potted into 12" pots, with the bud union way above the level of the soil so the entire pot could be used for the roots. I used a commercial potting mix - Fafard but MG or Scotts or whatever would do fine. They sat in the shade for a few weeks and are now out in full sun and thriving - Clotilde Soupert is in full bloom and Charles de Mills growing nicely. Figure on putting them in the ground in mid-July by which time they should have a good root system and that will give them several months to get established before cold weather comes along.
Soaking over-night is fine if you just want to rehydrate them.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 8:07PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

As oldroser said, the purpose of soaking is to rehydrate the bareroots. They have been out of the ground for who knows how long. If kept well, they will be fresh, but still want a drink before planting. If not kept well, they still need a drink. 24 hours minimum. If you have to leave town or go on vacation or for some reason leave them soaking longer than 24 hours, well you can see what oldroser did for two months. And I know oldroser's plants are just fine.

If I had room to plant them in the ground, I would plant them as soon as they had substantial new growth, I wouldn't wait until fall, but I will let those in warmer zones provide better advise.

BTW, nothing says that you can't plant them directly into the ground either, you still have to provide some kind of shade or covering to protect the canes from drying out.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 10:21PM
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reneek(GA - Zone 7B)

Michelle....those roots scared the beejeezus out of me! They are huge! Yep, Jubilee Celebration was one of the culprits....I guess I'm going to have to find some larger containers that will do the job for me.

I'll still pot them up, but as Oldroser and Diane suggested, if we get adequate rain, I will probably put them in the ground sooner than I'd planned. It's just that the ground is rock SOLID right now. The only thing is that I will be planting them in full sun areas, so it will be difficult to provide shade for them. Could I cover it with some type of sheeting or would that do more harm than good?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 11:19AM
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I wouldn't use anything that touches them. I bought a bunch of $1.50 plastic laundry baskets at the Dollar Store and I'm putting those on top of them. It's darn hot out here but at least this unusual humidity will be a benefit in terms of planting these guys.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 11:43AM
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reneek(GA - Zone 7B)

Ok, gotcha....thanks!!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 1:30PM
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