Planting: How we get our roses off to a great start (with our secret ingredient!)

Ever since we began planting our new farm the questions have been rolling in about how we plant our roses! Since it’s spring and many of you are planting your own roses, I thought it would be a good opportunity to create a simple how-to for getting your roses off to a great start.

1. Location, location, location: Where you choose to grow your roses is crucial. 6-8 hours of direct sunlight are needed for roses to thrive. I get asked all the time if roses can grow in partial sun. Simply, no. They may grow, but they won’t bloom much and won’t have the vigor they need to be healthy plants. Sun is key!


2. Dig a big hole: Whether you’re planting bare root or potted roses, dig at least a 2-feet-wide by 2-feet-deep hole. The bigger your hole is, the more your roots can grow! Don’t skimp on your hole size. We use an auger attached to our tractor because we have to dig thousands of holes, but on our first property we dug every single hole by hand. It’s a great workout!

3. Soil amendment: The next most popular question we receive is if we amend our soil. We don’t and here is why: roses will grow in almost any soil and it’s less about the existing soil conditions and more about how you plan to care for your roses over their lifetime. You can plant a rose in the “ideal” soil and then deprive it of water and nutrients, and you’ll have a weak, unproductive rose. We’ve grown roses in sandy soil, clay, rocky soil, soft topsoil, and they all do the same because we WATER and FEED religiously. Roses are not “plant them and forget them” plants. To have beautiful roses, you must water and feed them.

4. Nutrients: Here is what we add to the holes before planting our roses. Both of the items below can be tossed right into your hole. Please follow guidelines on the package.
    * Organic granular fertilizer  

    * Mycorrhizae, which you can read all about HERE!

5. Plant your rose: Squeeze the pot to loosen the plant, then place one hand over the surface and turn upside down so you can catch the plant as it slides from the pot. You want to keep the fine, hair-like roots intact, so be gentle when removing young roses from their pots. If you’re planting bareroot roses, set the plants in place so that the crown (base of where the canes connect) is at the ground level. Fill the hole with remaining soil mixture and water well. Sometimes you will need to add more soil around your roses once you’ve watered the plant in and the soil has settled.

6. Water, water, water: Once your rose is planted, water it well. At least a gallon of water every single day for the first week or two depending on the heat in your location.

7. Secret ingredient: Alfalfa!

We use it every time we plant a rose! Alfalfa is actually very well known in the gardening community for being an amazing natural product for stimulating growth, but people are always so shocked when we suggest it! HERE is some information from the American rose society on alfalfa!

 Once your rose is planted, sprinkle 1 cup of alfalfa meal or alfalfa pellets around the base of your roses. Water it in well! I cannot stress this enough. You will need to apply enough water to break down the pellets. Alfalfa will form a crust on the soil and do nothing for your rose unless you water it in well.

There you have it! These are the steps you need to get your roses off to a great start, and of course irrigation and mulching come next. Remember to water and feed regularly for gorgeous, healthy rose bushes. Come back to our blog next month for our three suggested feeding schedules: one for beginners looking to start slow with rose care, a second for those who want to invest a little more time, and a third for experienced growers!