Plant bare-root roses now for spring blooms

Tips on how to se­lect, plant and take care of roses.

Austin American-Statesman - - AUSTIN360 DAILY - By Diana C. Kirby Spe­cial to the Amer­i­canS­tates­man With their long stems and tra­di­tional shape, Katy Road Care­free Beauty roses are a great choice for a cut­ting garden. CONTRIBUTED PHO­TOS BY DIANA C. KIRBY Diana Kirby is a land­scape de­signer and garden co

Even though it hit 83 de­grees in Austin last week, it is now of­fi­cially win­ter and that means it’s time to think about plant­ing bare-root roses for your spring garden. “Bare root” refers to the way the plants are shipped — while they are dor­mant — and doesn’t have any­thing to do with the dif­fer­ent types of roses. Plant­ing th­ese roses now gives them time to de­velop a strong root sys­tem be­fore they be­gin putting on fo­liage in the spring and pre­pare for the hot sum­mer that surely lies ahead.

Get­ting started

If you don’t al­ready have a rose bed started, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that roses need six full hours of sun­light to bloom well and thrive. A lit­tle bit of late af­ter­noon shade also would be OK in our swel­ter­ing sum­mers.

To en­sure a good grow­ing en­vi­ron­ment, a raised bed is op­ti­mal so you can build up the bed with qual­ity soil. Roses do best in a loose, loamy soil with good drainage. If you have hard or com­pacted clay soil, you can add sand or com­post to the bed to loosen the soil. Roses also don’t like to have wet feet. They are sus­cep­ti­ble to fun­gal dis­eases like black spot disease or pow­dery mildew, so it’s best to water them in the morn­ing in­stead of at night and plant them where they have good air cir­cu­la­tion.

Bare-root roses are sim­ple to pre­pare for plant­ing. As soon as you bring them home, you should trim off any dead roots or stems. Then put them in a bucket of water for sev­eral hours to re­vive the roots. If you are not go­ing to plant them in their per­ma­nent place, plant them tem­po­rar­ily in an­other part of the garden un­til their plot is ready. The roots should not be al­lowed to dry out.

The wax coat­ing on the root tips is put on by the grow­ers. Don’t worry about it; it will wear off once you plant the rose.

There are many dif­fer­ent types of roses — flori­bunda, gran­di­flora, climber, shrub and land­scape, hy­brid tea and minia­ture.

Flori­bunda: Devel­oped in the last cen­tury, Flori­bun­das are bushy shrubs with showy blos­soms. They set clus­ters of blooms (from three to as many as 15) on a stem.

Hy­brid tea: Th­ese are the most pop­u­lar roses — tall, long-stemmed beau­ties per­fect for cut­ting. They usu­ally have only one flower to a stem. They are of­ten fo­cal points in land­scape de­sign and many va­ri­eties are fra­grant.

Gran­di­flora: A cross be­tween a flori­bunda and a hy­brid tea, gran­di­flo­ras are tall and re­gal. They bloom over and over through­out the sea­son. The have clus­ters like hy­brid teas.

Shrub and land­scape: Shrub roses have a nat- ural disease re­sis­tance, grow in a wide va­ri­ety of cli­mates and re­quire less care and prun­ing thanks to their com­pact growth habit. They flower pro­lif­i­cally over a long pe­riod of time.

Climb­ing: Climb­ing roses pro­duce long, arch­ing canes with flow­ers all along the cane. They can be trained to grow up a fence, trel­lis or any other kind of struc­ture.

An­tique: An­tique roses are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered roses that were in­tro­duced be­fore 1867 and the devel­op­ment of the first mod­ern hy­brid tea roses. An­tique rose rustlers and col­lec­tors con­sider most roses more than 75 years old to be an­tique — with the shared char­ac­ter­is­tics of beau­ti­ful fra­grance, ease of cul­ti­va­tion and disease re­sis­tant. Many of th­ese roses were gleaned from old ceme­ter­ies or aban­doned es­tates where they thrived with lit­tle or no care for years and years. Hy­brid tea roses of­ten lack the fra­grance of an­tique roses, but on the other hand, mod­ern hy­brid tea roses come in a vast ar­ray of stun­ning col­ors, while an­tique col­ors are more sub­tle.

How to plant bare­root roses

Bare-root roses are made up of the root­stock and the flow­er­ing canes. Where those two parts join is called the graft union, and should be planted just above ground level here in Cen­tral Texas. Dig the hole just deep enough so the graft union will be at the cor­rect level and wide enough to let the roots ex­tend with­out bend­ing. Par­tially re­fill the hole with the soil you re­moved and make an in­verted cone of soil over which to spread the roots. Hold­ing the rose at the right height, fill the hole with soil. When it’s al­most full, water all around to al­low the soil to set­tle. Then fin­ish fill­ing the hole, mak­ing a well around the rose and water again. Be sure to ap­ply a nice layer of mulch all around the rose, but keep it a few inches away from the canes so you don’t cover up the graft union.

Se­lect­ing the right rose will re­quire a lit­tle re­search be­cause there are so many from which to choose. Be sure you know your size re­quire­ments or lim­i­ta­tions, how much time you have for prun­ing and care, and what char­ac­ter­is­tics are most im­por­tant to you in a rose.

Lo­cal in­de­pen­dent nurs­eries can help you se­lect roses that are disease re­sis­tant, drought tol­er­ant and prolific bloomers. There are many heir­loom roses and “Earth Kind” va­ri­eties (tested by A&M and proven to be tough enough to thrive in our Cen­tral Texas weather and soil con­di­tions). Big box stores will have large ship­ments of bare-root roses, too, but you’ll have to do your re­search and be care­ful to en­sure the va­ri­eties they of­fer are ap­pro­pri­ate for our cli­mate.

This Mag­gie rose is prolific. It blooms most of the year and pro­duces a won­der­ful tra­di­tional rose fra­grance. It grows 4 feet to 7 feet tall.

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