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Planting a Rosebush in 7 Simple Steps

Even the most experienced flower gardener can balk at the prospect of planting a rosebush. These fussy flowers can be difficult to settle into your garden properly, especially if you’ve never planted a rosebush before!

Planting a Rosebush

But don’t worry—I’m here to help you learn how to plant a rosebush in seven quick and simple steps that will leave you wondering why you didn’t take the plunge sooner. Read on to learn how to plant a rosebush!

1.    Choose Your Rosebush

Roses

Of course, the very first thing you need to do before planting a rosebush is choosing which kind of rosebush you’d like to plant in your garden. There are several varieties to choose from, each coming with their own unique needs, benefits, and appearances.

You’ll want to start the process of planting a rosebush by carefully considering the aesthetic of your garden. Are you wanting something bold and brash like the Purple Tiger Rose? Something softer and sweeter like the Angel Face Rose? A more classic look like the Mister Lincoln Rose or the Don Juan Rose? You can even choose to go in a clean-cut direction by filling your garden with White O’Hara Roses!

Of course, you’re more than welcome to mix different varieties for an especially unique garden, but keep in mind that different roses will flourish best under different conditions, so try to match your rose varieties with complementary bushes that thrive under similar conditions. You don’t want half your garden to die while the other half flourishes!

2.    Choose Your Location

Roses

You’re going to want to choose the site for this addition to your garden carefully. Roses require plenty of sunlight, so you’re going to want to avoid shady spots when planting a rosebush. Avoid planting a rosebush near trees with wide-spreading branches that block the sun, bushes that grow taller than the rosebushes you plan to plant, or any backyard structures (decks, patio furniture, etc) that cast too much shadow. You want an open space where your roses will be able to soak up all the rays they need to keep themselves healthy!

While rosebushes do need quite a bit of water to thrive, they can also suffer easily from overwatering if their soil doesn’t dry out in a timely manner. When planting a rosebush, you’ll want to pick a spot in your yard with good drainage and little flood risk; don’t plant at the bottom of a hill or incline, and watch the spot for a bit whenever a rainstorm hits (or mimic one by hosing it down a bit!) to see how long it takes to dry up.

You don’t want to drown your roses, and once you’ve planted them, transplanting them elsewhere is a hassle you want to avoid if you can. Make sure you’re happy with your chosen location before planting a rosebush.

3.    Prep Your Soil

Soil for Rosebushes

Again, when planting a rosebush, you’ll want to ensure you choose soil that drains well for your rosebushes! Soil that clings to moisture isn’t the best choice for planting a rosebush. You’ll want to choose soil that’s rich in nutrients—or, if you’re feeling ambitious or want to be more hands-on with your gardening, you can mix up a unique soil yourself. If you choose to mix up your own soil, the best base to start with is something loamy.

Loamy soil contains silt, sand, and clay, creating a perfectly balanced environment for your rosebush’s roots to thrive in. This soil will drain well, and if you can’t track down a pre-mixed bag of this soil type, it’s not too hard to make yourself.

Of course, it’s not just the base you need to worry about. You’re going to want to make sure there are plenty of nutrients available to your rosebushes, and the best way to do that is to add organic matter! Organic matter includes compost, bone meal, manure, and other materials that come from living things. Mixing some of this into your top soil (and into the soil mound we’ll discuss later) will help feed your rosebushes for quite a while. But I’ll go over that in more detail a bit later!

4.    Dig Your Hole

Shovel

While this step of planting a rosebush sounds simple, it takes a bit more precision than you’d think. The first thing you need to do is measure your rosebush’s root ball, which is exactly what it sounds like: the bundle of roots at the bottom of your bush! 

When it comes to digging the hole, you don’t want to make it too big, so measuring is key. You want the hole to extend a bit wider than the root ball, but not too much wider—a couple inches wider should do the trick. The depth should exactly match the size of the root ball, so be careful not to dig too deep.

This is where that organic matter comes in. While the best recommendation for this is bone meal, you can mix compost, manure, bone meal, or—as weird as it sounds—even some blood meal! I learned about this trick from a friend in college, and I thought it had to be a joke, but it’s true: blood meal is good for lowering the pH of your soil if it’s too high, and it’s another great option for fertilizer.

Most gardeners advise mixing organic matter into the soil you’ve dug out from the hole when planting a rosebush, as this is the soil you’ll be refilling the hole with once you’ve set the rosebush inside.

If you have a bareroot rosebush (a bush that has no leaves or flowers yet, and does not come in a pot), you’re going to need to make a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole to give the roots a proper support system. It’s also suggested that you mix a little extra organic matter of your choice (though bone meal is highly recommended) into the mound so it’s immediately accessible to the roots.

If you have a potted rosebush, you shouldn’t need to worry about a mound. Simply settle the root ball into the hole and fill it back up with your organic matter soil mixture! But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. First, you need to get that rosebush out of its pot!

5.    Get Your Rosebush Ready

Bareroot Rose

If you have a bareroot rosebush, you won’t need to worry about removing it from a pot. But if you have a potted rosebush, your next step in planting a rosebush will be taking it out of that pot. Make sure you do so gently; you don’t want to damage the roots!

This is the time to make sure you’ve measured your hole correctly. If it’s too wide or too deep, you can build it back up with your remaining soil until it reaches the ideal depth and width. Take it easy and don’t rush; get your hole perfect before finally settling your rosebush into its new home.

6.    Plant the Rosebush

Planting a Rosebush

For a bareroot rosebush, you’ll want to set it inside the hole and carefully arrange its roots around the mound so they extend down the sides of the mound. You’ll want it to look a bit like a spider perched on top of the mound with all its legs reaching downward. Once you’ve done this, you can start burying it, keeping the roots as spread out as possible while you do so.

If you have a potted rosebush, you won’t need to worry about arranging it around a mound, but you will need to separate the roots a bit. While wearing gloves, reach in and gently use your fingers to separate the roots, coaxing away excess soil until they’re no longer clumped together. Once you’ve cleaned the root base up a bit, you can set it inside the hole and fill it back up with your soil/organic matter mixture!

7.    Water and Enjoy!

Watering a rosebush

No matter which rosebush variety you’ve chosen, once you have it stable and settled in its hole, make sure you water it! This will help settle the plant fully, and watering immediately after planting a rosebush will encourage the plant to take root fully and get itself firmly established in its new home.

Be careful not to overwater, but in these beginning stages of planting a rosebush, you should try to water your bushes every other day (unless your area is going through some rainy weather!). If you’ve chosen a good location and a properly well-draining soil mixture, you shouldn’t have to worry about water damage.

Now You’re Ready for Planting a Rosebush!

Congratulations! You’re now prepared to take on the challenge of filling your garden with these beautiful, romantic blooms. It can seem like an intimidating undertaking, but trust me, it’ll all be worth it once you have a garden filled to the brim with colorful, elegant, sweet-smelling flowers that will brighten up your yard for years to come. No matter which rose variety you choose when planting a rosebush, your house’s curb appeal is sure to shoot sky-high with the help of these beauties!

Want to learn more about different types of roses and how best to grow them? Check out our rose section for growing guides, where to buy rosebushes, and recommendations on which roses are best for your garden!