Planting Bare Root Roses

How to plant bare root roses to dramatically add to your landscaping. Easy to grow, climbing or shrub roses provide a bounty of blooms all season. They are a lovely addition to any cottage or farmhouse garden with fragrant flowers.

Claire Austin Roses

What are Bare Root Roses?

Bare root roses are dormant plants that have no foliage. Roses are naturally dormant during the winter months. Once planted, they will establish quickly in the garden and flower in the early summer.

The highest quality bare root roses can be ordered online and shipped to your home to plant at the right time for your USDA zone.

They will arrive in a box, usually wrapped in a plastic bag or another packing material to protect the roots of the rose, and will not be planted in soil.

With these simple steps, you will learn tips on planting bare root roses for your garden. As well as the best time to plant bare-root roses and the planting process for best results.

Where to Plant Bare root Roses

The best place to plant bare root roses is moist, well-drained, fertile soil. Most bare root roses do best with at least 4 hours of sunlight during the day, but some tolerate shade.

Generally, the more full sun areas are better, but partial shade in the afternoon can be beneficial when the sun is hot.

Bare root roses should be planted with enough space to grow so the rose roots will not have to compete with other plants, trees, or shrubs.

They should also be planted far enough apart for good air circulation between plants.

Roses are versatile, and there is a rose for almost all growing conditions. Always read the instructions with the rose to learn more about it and know the best-growing conditions to plant bare-root roses.

How to Plant Bare Root Roses

When to Buy Bare Root Roses

Most sellers only stock bare root roses during late winter and early spring. This is generally the only time to order them online or purchase them in local garden centers.

The bare root rose planting season will vary depending on your location. Bare root roses should be planted between January and May, depending on your location.

Bare-root roses are best planted in early spring after the last frost. Plant roses on a dry day when the soil thaws and is not excessively wet.

We are located in the South Central /Lower Midwest area in Missouri. We are in zone 6 and will plant bare-root in early April or May.

Supplies Needed

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You can find my favorite kitchen essentials can be located in my Amazon storefront. While I often try to link to the exact products you see in my photos and videos, my pieces are usually vintage and thrifted. However, I try to find and link replicas as much as possible, made in the USA or by other small shops, as I believe in supporting hardworking American families.

Climbing Rose Care

How to Plant Bare Root Roses

Step 1: Soaking Bare Root Roses Before Planting

When roses arrive through the mail, they will be wrapped in plastic wrapping around the bare roots.

Open the box, remove the plastic wrapping and place the roots in a bucket of water. Allow the rose to soak for a minimum of two or six hours.

Bare root roses are often planted the same day they arrive in the mail. However, the roots must be moist if you cannot do this.

Open the plastic wrapping, sprinkle the rose roots with water, and then wrap the entire plant up for a day or two.

How to Plant Bare Root Roses

Step 2: Choose a Location and Dig Hole

The planting hole should be approximately 12-18 inches deep and 16-24 inches wide, depending on the rose roots’ width.

Remove any weeds or large stones from the area the bare root roses will be planted. Choose a sunny spot with good drainage for water. Dig a hole large enough for the roots using a garden spade.

Planting Bare Root Roses

Step 3: Add Compost and Rose Food

Using the garden spade, add two spadefuls of composted manure or compost to the hole, then mix it with the soil at the base of the hole.

Add a small amount of rose food to the bottom of the hole. Less is more when applying rose food; follow the directions on the back of the bag. Overfeeding may cause more harm than good.

David Austin sells Mycorrhizal Fungi. Sprinkling this over the rose roots at the time of planting encourages root development, resulting in a healthier rose.

Planting a Climbing Rose Bush

Step 4: Place Bare Root Rose in Hole

Remove the bare-root rose from the bucket of water. Set the rose in the hole and spread the rose roots out evenly.

The bottom of the stem, which looks like a knot or a bump just above the root system, should be about 2 inches below soil level.

Step 5: Back Fill Hole

Using soil that was dug out of the hole, backfill around the roots of the rose. Using your foot, lightly firm the soil back around the rose.

Step 6: Water Bare Root Roses

Watering bare root roses is essential in helping rose plants get off to a healthy growing start. Newly planted roses will need good watering, especially during hot weather.

Water newly planted roses from May through October at least twice a week. During hot weather, roses may need to be watered every other day. If the rose looks wilted, it is a sure sign that it needs watering.

Gently water close to the base of the plant, avoiding getting water on the flowers or foliage. Bare root roses will need about two gallons at each time of watering.

Step 7: Mulch Bare Root Roses

Mulching around the base of the rose provides a protective layer. Mulch helps keep the soil moist, keeps sun and wind from drying the rose roots, and minimizes weeds while making the area look tidier.

Spread a layer of mulch in a three-inch layer around the base of the rose.

How to Plant Bare Root Roses

Tips for Planting Bare Root Roses

Should You Soak Bare Root Roses Before Planting?

Before planting bare-root roses, soak them in water to rehydrate the rose. Placing the roots in a bucket of water for at least two hours will rehydrate and prepare the rose for planting.

How Long to Soak Bare Root Roses

Before planting, soak bare-root roses in a bucket for at least two to six hours to rehydrate the roots. Roses do not need to be soaked overnight.

How Long Does it Take for Bare Root Roses to Leaf out After Planting?

After planting, it will take around four to six weeks before a bare-root rose begins to leaf out.

Often the first green leaf is followed by many others, and the first rosebud will appear before long.

Bare root roses will bloom in the first year they are planted, and each year they bloom more and more.

Growing bare root roses requires patience, which can take three to five years to mature fully.

Where to Buy Bare Root Roses

There are many places to buy bare-root roses, including your local garden center, local nurseries, and online. I have found that I like purchasing all of mine from David Austin Roses.

They have been breeding roses on their family farm in Shropshire for almost 60 years, offer a guarantee, and have expert advice available.

Best Time to Plant Bare Root Roses

Springtime is ideal for planting bare-root roses, as the soil is usually warm and moist. Depending on your location and climate, this usually falls between late February and April. However, it is possible to plant bare root roses as early as January, depending on your hardiness zone.

This will ensure your roses have enough time to take root and bloom in the summer. The only times when planting is not recommended are when the soil is waterlogged, frozen or in a drought.

Bare Root Roses for Sale Online

Claire Austin Roses

Growing Bare Root Roses in my Garden

With various types of roses, including Climbing roses, English Shrub Roses, and Own Root Roses, here is a list of the David Austin bare root roses growing in my cut flower gardens.

Climbing Roses

  • Claire Austin: My favorite bare root climbing roses are the Claire Austin. A creamy white English climbing rose with a strong myrrh fragrance with a medium-size bloom. Best for health and fragrance, north-facing walls, doorways, and arches, this rose proves to be an excellent climber that offers both beauty and performance.
how to plant bare root roses

Own Root Roses


Beautifully rounded flowers with neatly placed petals make up perfect rosettes. The buds are lightly tinged with yellow, but as the flowers open, they become pure white.

A vigorous shrub, its growth is bushy and upright, clothed in light green foliage, curving outwards in a most attractive manner. With its pure white flowers, this rose lives up to its name. (source)

Shrub Roses


Windermere: The blooms start as perfectly rounded buds, opening to full, cupped flowers that are rich, creamy yellow at first, fading to almost pure white in the sun.

They have a delicious fruity fragrance that has a definite hint of citrus. Very healthy; it forms a neat, compact plant, even in warmer areas. (source)

Windermere Rose

Susan William-Ellis

Susan William-Ellis: A delightful, unassuming rose of typical Old Rose beauty. It is a pure white sport of the pink English Rose, ‘The Mayflower’.

The remarkable thing about these two roses is that, so far as we are aware, they are completely free from disease. The strong fragrance is perfectly Old Rose in character. It is extremely winter hardy, with upright, bushy, twiggy growth. (source)


Desdemona: Pretty peachy pink buds open to reveal beautiful, pure white blooms with an attractive hint of pink at the earliest flowering stage.

They flower over an exceptionally long season and maintain their shape during wet weather. A lovely Old Rose and almond blossom fragrance with hints of cucumber and lemon zest. (source)

Desdemona Rose

Planting Bare Root Roses

Something is captivating about planting roses and watching as they cover arbors, trellis, or grow along fences.

To keep your roses blooming all season long, read my post, How to Deadhead Roses, for more Summer Garden Blooms!

Honey Bee on Honeymoon Rose

Thank you so much for visiting here at Rocky Hedge Farm. If you enjoyed this post on how to plant bare-root roses and love flower gardening, be sure to check out more of my favorite posts:

Thank you for sharing!

5 thoughts on “Planting Bare Root Roses”

  1. I love David Austin roses and looked at their catalog trying to decide what I wanted and then life happened and suddenly it was too late to order! So now that I have finally narrowed down the field of prospective roses, I will get them ordered next spring for sure! It was nice to hear from you and look forward to a tour of your gardens soon.

    • Thank you so much! I planted two last year and just loved them! They are a bit costly but I know that they are high quality and well worth the investment!

  2. I have two David Austin roses, red and peach colors. I need to get a white one, thanks for this tutorial on roses, they do smell so good.

  3. Love your barn photos! Everything looks so pretty in your yard. You and your family have really cleaned up your land.


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