How to Plant a Rose Garden 101


A rose, by any other name, would still smell as sweet. However, a rose, improperly planted, might not. Rose gardening is reputed to be arduous, time-consuming and prohibitively expensive.

Roses are actually easy for any rookie gardener to plant and maintain. Simply give them sunshine, water, and fertilizer. Your TLC will be rewarded with showy blooms and plants that live 10 years or more. This guide will show you how to plant a rose garden like a pro:

How to Choose Roses

According to the National Gardening Association’s Plants Database, there are over 6,783 varieties of roses. Here’s how to select the ones that best express your personal flair:

• Ensure that the bush you select has at least one blossom. This way, you’ll know the flower’s color and scent. Consider buying low-maintenance plants such as climbing roses. These prolific plants ramble and burst with blossoms. Climbing roses are an easy-to-care-for choice if you’d rather not prune regularly.

• Select the roses that best suit your tastes and garden plan. The choices are boundless: miniatures, climbers, hybrid teas and long-stemmed varieties. Shrub roses are among the easiest roses to grow. They’re bred to be rugged, disease-free and low-maintenance.

• Limit the variety of roses in your garden. When evaluating how to plant a rose garden you’ll be assailed by colors, scents, patterns and shapes.

• Resist the impulse to plant them all. Too many dissimilar flowers will look disorderly and overload the garden space. The symmetry of a few carefully selected plants surpasses a chaotic jumble.

• Be sure to check the rose’s tag, which denotes its quality. The hardiest plants are Grade 1. This means they have at least three canes and sturdy roots. Equally important is the All-American Rose Selection (AARS) classification by the American Rose Society. These flowers are considered exemplary in scent, hue, flower quality and disease resistance.

• Consider the rose’s potential height. Some plants can top 20 feet.

• As a novice deciding how to plant a rose garden, contemplate a low-maintenance, disease-resistant strain.

Bare-root Roses vs Potted Roses

• Bare-root roses look like little more than kindling until they blossom. These plants typically take off earlier than their potted relatives. This growth results from energy directed toward root development, not foliage growth. Exercise caution, though — if a bare-root rose has leaves, bypass it. Its growth has jumped the gun and it will struggle to adapt once in the ground.

• Potted roses, already sprouting leaves and flowers, are more attractive than bare-root plants. If you’re learning how to plant a rose garden, the convenience of a potted rose may outweigh its expense. Unfortunately, these intoxicating plants generate energy that sustains their flowers while minimally nourishing roots.

If you buy potted roses, steel yourself for lopping off their dazzling flowers before planting. Test your prospective purchase by holding its stem and jiggling it. If the plant comes out of its pot, bypass it.


• Before you break ground, consider location. Roses love to sunbathe, so ensure that your flowerbed will be exposed to abundant sunlight. The flowers need to simmer daily in six to eight hours of rays. Ideally, this sunshine should reach them in the morning.

Why? Morning sun evaporates nighttime dewiness. Excessive exposure to moisture could induce fungal diseases such as powdery mildew. Additionally, morning sunlight is gentler than intense afternoon sunlight.

• When selecting your flowerbed’s location, choose an area with well-drained soil. Rose roots will rot if waterlogged. The plants prefer slightly acidic or neutral soil. Optimal soil pH levels should be 5.5-7.0. Testing kits are available at most gardening centers for about $16.

Planting Your Garden

Springtime is the ideal season for planting roses. They should be planted after the last frost or in autumn six weeks prior to the first frost. Plant on a calm, cloudy day, rather than a hot day that could distress them. Here are easy-to-follow steps to help you understand how to plant a rose garden:

• First, prune the roses’ canes to a height of 6-8 inches. They are shortened because the roots aren’t sufficient to nourish much surface growth.

• Soak your flowers 24 hours prior to planting. Immerse them in a bucket of water before placing them in the ground.

• Your roses’ survival largely depends upon the size of the hole you dig. This hole should be 15-18 inches deep and 18-24 inches wide. When planting several rose bushes, space them 3 feet apart. They can access free-flowing air and won’t be susceptible to mildew.

• Combine bone meal with soil you’ve removed. Next, shape this mixture into a cone within the hole. Drape the roots around the cone to guide them toward deep soil penetration. The cone also assists in effective drainage.

• Fill the hole halfway with remaining soil, and water to eliminate moisture pockets. After the water drains, completely fill the hole, mound soil around the canes and water liberally.

You can also check out this clip explaining the steps you need to follow:



Roses love organic fertilizers that provide nutrients, promote robust soil microbes and balance pH. Reliable fertilizers include manure, compost, fish emulsion and even banana peels. Fertilizers are a must for optimal health and growth.


• Roses require deep, intense hydration to attain full growth and blossoming potential. Four to five gallons of water, twice a week, should suffice. Carefully monitor watering when temperatures soar, since heat stress can strike in a flash.

• A soaker hose should be used to drive water directly to the plants’ roots. This method prevents saturating the leaves and canes, which attracts mildew. Mildew can also be intercepted by watering roses at soil level, rather than from above. Water once a week, and twice a week during hotter weather.

• Mulch is also very helpful in lowering the risk of fungal issues that develop from too much moisture. It also keeps the soil moist, without inundating it.


Pruning plays a critical role in eliminating areas of the bush that may hide infestations and also prompts blooming. This skill is easy to master. Here’s how it’s done:

• First, cut off all dead and defective branches.

• Remove all but five healthy branches.

• Cut your bushes by a third or half, depending on how tall you’d like them. Snip above outward-facing buds to bolster their upward growth. These cuts also encourage the bud to open wide, and in a pleasing shape.

Learning how to plant a rose garden doesn’t have to be a prickly experience for a novice. Roses are often maligned as intimidating to plant, grow and maintain. However, even if you’re a beginner, you can learn how to plant a rose garden that you’ll love.

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Jonathan E. Bass

Graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I am currently a gardener. I have a small garden behind my house. I love it.

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