Ask A Rosarian

Our staff Rosarian and Master Gardener, Mr. James Milo will gladly help respond to questions about roses. If you have questions about growing roses for pleasure or competition, please write to us at questions(@)

Why Roses?

Roses are one of the most favorite flowers of gardeners. The rose family, Rosacea, contains over two thousand species including most of our fruit crops.

The genus Rosa includes over 100 species, dozens of which have been used in hybridizing. Because roses are so popular and because there are so many species, new hybrids are coming out all the time.

Gardeners recognize roses primarily by their general form—bush, climber, tree and miniatures.

Common Questions About Growing Roses

Q: What kind of soil is best to plant roses in?

A: Roses respond well to rich, well-drained soil. If your soil is too heavy (clay) or too light (sandy), the addition of
composed organic matter will greatly improve it. Even if you have a rich loam, the roses will still benefit from the addition of compost. Compost is the perfect amendment. 

Q: When is the best time to plant roses?

A: Check the zone that you live in. You should plant when the weather begins to get warm, when all danger of frost is gone. For example, Spring is the best time to plant roses in the North East.

Q: How are roses sold? 

A: Roses can be purchased as either bare root packed in peat humus
or container grown; the vast majority being the former. 

Q: How do I plant roses?

A: Plant budded rose plants with the bud union (knob-like portion of stem) 2 inches below the soil surface. Dig the hole large enough to spread the roots in a natural manner, radiating from the stem like the fingers of a hand. You may want to add a handful of bone meal or super phosphate to the soil.. Cover the roots with topsoil and tamp it firmly. After the soil is packed firmly around the roots, water the plant thoroughly. Never plant when the soil is so wet that it can be pressed into balls that will not crumble.

Q: How do I plant hybrid teas and vigorous floribundas?

A: Hybrid teas and vigorous floribundas should be spaced about 2 feet apart; hybrid perpetuals about 3 feet and climbers at least 5 feet apart.

At the time of planting, shorten back the canes of the hybrid teas and hybrid perpetuals. The pruning should be quite severe with 3 or 4 short canes remaining on the stem. Fertilize the surface area above the roots with a complete fertilizer—follow the manufacturer’s directions—after the plants have become established. Water thoroughly and water when the weather is dry. Be sure to water the soil and not the plant. Wet leaves encourage disease.


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