Site Selection and Preparation

Choose a well-drained site that will receive about 6 hours of direct sun daily, away from the roots of large trees and roof overhangs.

Roses will grow in any good soil but do poorly in high alkaline soils, which should be amended, possibly with sulphur. For best results, and to allow the soil time to settle, prepare the beds at least 3 weeks before planting in April, or as soon as the soil is workable for spring planting, or in September for fall planting. (Note that fall planting is not recommended across the Prairies Provinces and that container-grown roses can be planted anytime during the growing season.) Improve the existing soil by adding generous amounts of well-rotted manure, compost and peat moss. Mix these well into the soil to a depth of at least 30cm (12 inches). Where the soil depth is not sufficient, or to improve drainage where soil contains excessive amounts of clay, using beds built up to a depth of 15 to 20cm (6 to 8 inches) with good topsoil will provide suitable growing conditions.

Mix super phosphate into the upper 30cm (12 in) of the dug bed, breaking up any lumps. Allow the soil to settle before planting. To avoid injury to the young roots DO NOT ADD any other fertilizer at planting time.


The roses you buy today may be bare root but most likely will be container grown.

Your new rose may be growing on its own root (most Shrub roses) or it may be grafted onto a hardy rootstock and will have a noticeable, knobby bud union near the roots (Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, etc.) The depth you have to plant your rose will depend on whether it is own-root or grafted.

Bare Root: Place the roots in a bucket of water overnight and keep the roots moist at all times. If the roses cannot be planted at once bury the plants in moist earth, in a slanted position, until planting time. Before planting, cut back broken or damaged roots and canes to healthy tissue.

Dig a hole large enough to permit the roots to spread out freely. Set the plant on a mound of fine soil and spread the roots over the mound with the bud union at least 5cm (2 in) below the finished grade. In Zones 2-5 this should be 10-15cm (4-6 in)

Back-fill the hole with soil/peat mixture to about three quarters full and firm the soil mixture around the roots. Fill the hole with water and permit it to drain. Finish filling the hole and continue adding earth to form a mound to cover the canes for several inches. Do this in either fall or spring: it provides winter protection in fall and protects against sun scald in spring. Remove the mounds when the plants are established and the buds begin to break.

Container grown roses: These are already growing, so when planting always remove the pot, even if fibre type, and try to minimize root disturbance (unless the roots are pot-bound.) Cut away the bottom then cut the pot vertically. Holding the pot, place the plant at the correct depth in the hole, back-fill part way and peel off the pot. Finish as described above for bare root planting.

Recommended Spacing

Bush roses:

45 to 75cm (1½ to 2½ ft) apart, depending on the vigour of the cultivars

Shrub roses:

1 to 1.5m (3 to 5 ft), or as solitary specimens


1.5 to 2.5m (5 to 8 ft), depending on desired effect