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Planting new rose bushes

Winter is the best time to plant new roses.  This is because the plants are bare of leaves and will grow stronger if planted at this stage.  There will be a good variety in garden centres right now.

Rose Display at Chelsea Flower Show London May 2012

First up, choose a sunny spot for your rose bushes.  Roses grow best if they are in a bed on their own.  But you may want to plant some rose bushes amongst other flowers in your garden and that’s OK too.

Dig a hole to at least one spade deep and sufficiently wide to accommodate the roots when spread out.

If the removed soil is of good quality I put sufficient back into the hole so that there is a mound of some soft soil at the base of the plant.  I also use a good potting mix. You want the bud union (the top of the root and the bottom of the stems) to be level with the surrounding soil. Before forming the mound I stir in a handful of MagAmp (or any long term fertiliser containing Nitrogen, Phosporus, Magnesium and Potassium. MagAmp releases nutrients slowly over two years that helps plant establishment and healthy vigorous growth) and a handful of bone flour.

Remove the plant from the bag and spread the roots evenly as you can on the mound. Add potting mix to about half way up the plant.

Press it down firmly with your hands and then top up the hole with soil.

Finally carefully pour in a bucket of water to eliminate any air pockets. Roots growing in an air pocket have a habit of dying. This may seem like hard work but remember roses can live for a long time (I have some I think are about thirty years old) and this will give them a good start.

Although the rose bushes look quite small they haven’t actually been pruned, just cut back for ease of freighting.  So you need to prune the bushes to an outside bud – for more detail go to our article on pruning roses.

Graham Williamson was a member of the Wellington Rose Society and the Kapiti Rose Society.  He wrote the cultural notes for the newsletters for these societies for many years.