How to Plant Roses

New England Planting


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How to Plant Roses in New England

Cynthia Fraser

Planting and caring for roses in New England is really not as difficult as some would think. You just need to understand that our lovely ladies and gents need to have their grafts properly inserted in appropriately amended soil (6.0-6.5 Ph). The only additive to lower Ph would be lime, since there is hardly any alkaline soil in New England. A good way to make sure your soil has the appropriate Ph is to put approximately 5 tablespoons of soil in a zip-loc bag and send it off to your local agricultural service for analysis. Roses should also be selected for hardiness, according to the zone in which they are to live, in order to ward off the awful effects of Old Man Winter. After all, in New England the winters get pretty cold, and the roses need to be well protected so that in the Spring they will erupt with wonderful blooms. They also need at least a half-day of full sun in order to really show off their colors. Most reputable rose catalogs show the zones for which each rose would be a good choice.
Potted roses can be planted at any time in New England as long as the soil is not frozen. Spring is good, of course, since that is when the best varieties are available at the nurseries. On the other hand, planting potted roses in the fall is good, as well, since they have a chance to get established over the winter. I planted nine potted roses on a warm day during the last weekend of November of this year, some of which had been sitting patiently in their pots since summer. Where I live in the western burbs of Boston (Zone 5+), I plant them with the graft at least three inches below the surface. I live in a sandpit, so for every rose I plant, I need to remove a ton of sand and amend the soil. My favorite amendment is six-year-old composted cow manure, screened. However, a combination of compost, sand and good soil (the result of which is one that is nourishing and has good drainage, as well as a Ph of 6.0-6.5). I dig a hole deep enough to hear the tinkling sounds of little Chinese children singing in their schoolyard (just kidding!), but several inches deeper than the potted rose, then I dump in a few inches of manure, throw in a handful of triple super phosphate, add a couple more inches of manure, then gently remove the rose from the pot by holding the pot under my arm, grasping the base of the canes, and removing the pot from the rose, rather than yanking the rose out of the pot. As I fill in with the compost, I water a bit. It is important not to stomp on the soil to pack it down, but just to fill in the hole completely in order not to have any air spaces. Once the rose is planted, I water it thoroughly. Since potted roses have nutrients in the soil, it is not necessary to fertilize them until at least a month after they have been planted. After that, I sprinkle a half-cup of 10-10-10 once a month around each rose until the end of August. When planting potted roses in the fall, I don’t feed them. They need only to rely on the nutrients in their canes and in the potted soil in order to feed their root systems until Spring.

As for bare root roses, they should soak for at least 24 hours in a bucket of water. If you feel that your roses may have a bit of disease, then I would suggest a couple of tablespoons of Clorox per five-gallon pail, but I’ve never done it, and my roses have been fine. Before they are planted, I trim off any broken root ends, dig the hole, and make a cone of compost on top of which I set the rose, with the root base three inches below the surface, with plenty of room to spread the roots out, then fill in the hole with compost, watering as I go. Since the rose has not had the benefit of fertilized soil, I water in a weak solution of liquid fertilizer; i.e., Miracle Gro. I totally cover it with compost and let the tender growth strengthen, then gradually and gently remove the compost when the stems start poking their heads out of the soil.

And remember, the three things that roses need most are Water, Water, and Water!!





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