14 Tips for Picking the Best Time to Plant Roses

Roses are a very popular flower that is often associated with love and romance. But for many gardeners roses don’t always conjure warm feelings of admiration.

Some view it as picky or too hard to grow. Even seasoned gardeners find challenges with growing roses.

However, roses aren’t always difficult to grow. But they do call for proper care.

With these tips, you’ll be able to grow a healthy plant that has more blooms than you imagined were possible.

Pick the Correct Rose Style and Variety

You can get your rose bushes in a large range of colors. Some are multi-colored and people claim they’re like owning multiple roses at one time due to the variety of colors they produce when they bloom. Pick your favorites or go for colors that accent your home. 

Rambling or climbing roses are a fan favorite for vertical gardens because they’re easy to train to grow up walls, trellises, or other support systems. All you have to do is drape or tack wire, cord, or rope around a door frame or window so the roses will grow right around them to accent your architecture. You can also showcase your roses by planting them by and training them to climb up different country props to create a focal point like rustic wood ladders, twig arches, a farm bell on a post, a birdhouse on a pole, or anything else. This is the time to get creative with it. 

For more formal settings, you can flank your home’s entrance with dual rose trees, or plant a formal English or tea rose garden like you see in Downton Abbey. If you want to place a repose outside, create a climbing rose-covered trellis, arch, gazebo, arbor, railing, or iron fence. 

1 Rose Plant
Roses by James Jardine / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Healthy rose plants can create a show stopping look in your home or garden, and this is why they’re immensely popular plants for beginner and veteran gardeners. 

Six Basic Garden Rose Varieties

Ideally, you’ll choose an easier and more popular rose variety if you’re brand new to these cultivars. There are six basic categories to choose from when it comes to roses, including: 

  • Climbing Roses – These roses grow best on longer vertical canes that they wind around for support, and many people plant them to grow up fences, trellises, arbors, and gazebos. Most cultivars in this variety are variations of the bush-type rose. Depending on the cultivar you choose, you can get your climbing roses to grow in clustered blooms, or you can choose plants that produce a large single flower on each stem.  
  • English – You’ll get English roses as a shrub, and they have a huge range of heights based on the cultivare you pick out. The flowers have lots of fragrant, lush petals, and the blooms look very similar to the antique garden roses from the past. The rich fragrance reminds people of old-fashioned tea roses.  
  • Floribunda – These roses grow in very showy clusters instead of producing a single flower on every stem on a bush. They’re also widely considered to be a disease-resistant and hardier variety than you’d get with hybrid tea roses. They get covered with blooms from bottom to top, and there should be no bare spots. This turns it into a focal point in your garden. The cultivars will vary in size from low-growing and compact to hedges that get between five and six feet tall.  
  • Grandiflora – This is a disease-resistant and hardy rose variety that offers elegant blooms that look like hybrid tea roses. They’re well-suited to use as hedges since they grow to a slightly taller height, and they also work in flower beds as background plantings. It’ll top out at 8 to 10-feet tall. 
  • Hybrid Tea – These are the benchmark of roses if you’re worried about having perfectly formed, large, elegant flowers with a heavy perfume scent. Roses form one on each stem, and they have a little foliage on the plant’s base. They typically get between four and five feet tall at full maturity.  
  • Wild – This species is known for having grown wild for hundreds or even thousands of years, especially in more rural landscapes. These roses usually start to bloom in the spring months, and they have very shallow roots that make them easy to transplant or dig up and put in your garden as long as it’s in the same growing zone. The canes usually arch and have a lengthy growth habit. 

1. Plant in the Spring

When you decide to plant a rose, you may opt to do it when the plant is already in bloom. The benefit of planting roses in the spring around April or May is that you’ll get an instant burst of color.

Many people love planting rose bushes that are already in bloom so they can enjoy the beauty of the rose sooner. However, this can make it more difficult for the roses to adapt to their new environment and yield a decent amount of growth.

Plus, you should be aware that planting roses in April and May means they will have to deal with the upcoming summer heat sooner rather than later.

2. Get a Jump Start

You can get a jump on planting roses. A lot of nurseries receive their stock of roses around January and February.

2 New Roses
Roses by Daniel R. Blume / CC BY-SA 2.0 Check your local nursery for roses around January or February so you can get a jumpstart on planting your flowers.

When you plant your roses early around February and March, you will give your little rose bushes the chance to produce roots into the soil. As a result, they will have the opportunity to get nice and settled in their new home by the time they begin to bloom.

Giving your roses the chance to establish roots while the weather is mild makes them better equipped to handle the blazing summer heat when it arrives.

3. Wait Until the Fall

Another option is to plant them in the fall. If you wait until the autumn, make sure you plant the roses about six weeks prior to the first frost in your area. Doing this will give the roots more than enough time to delve into the soil before your plant goes dormant over the winter.

4. Purchase Roses in Containers

If you require more flexibility in planting time then purchase roses in containers. Container roses are hardier than bare-root roses. You can plant them as late as May. You’ll still get good results, but you’ll get even better results if you start with earlier planting.

Doing so gives your rose bushes the chance to make good root growth and start to become established before they begin to bloom. Plus, they will get a chance to get settled in before the strong heat of summer arrives.

Heat and blooming put stress on the plants and make it more difficult for them to get established. Giving them that extra time to make good root growth before high temps and blooming occur positions them to be healthier.

5. Opt for Bare-root Roses

Bare-root roses are a great option since they are normally available only in the early part of spring. These are the roses you see in boxes. They’re typically shipped via mail order.

The best time to plant them is while they’re still dormant (before the shoots begin to grow off of the rose plant’s main branch). It’s better for the vitality of the plant if it’s in the ground before it starts to put energy into growing new stems and leaves.

Avoid buying bare-root roses after February. By this time they have already begun to sprout in the package. As soon as you get your bare-root roses home you should plant them.

The best time to plant your roses is when the daytime temperatures are between 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Wait for Favorable Weather

Avoid planting your roses during extreme weather conditions such as during a drought. Also, do not plant them when the ground is water-logged.

Don’t try to work soil that’s too frozen or sopping wet and muddy from spring rains. Wait until the soil has dried if it is muddy. Doing so will allow for proper planting.

4 frozen rose
Avoid planting your roses in unfavorable weather conditions such as when it is too cold. You don’t want to have frozen roses on your hands. 

7. Let the Frost Pass

When it comes to planting roses it’s all about timing. To ensure that you’ll have lots of gorgeous blooms all summer, wait until the danger of frost has passed.

The soil needs to be warmed up so it’s easy to work with. When you’re in the clear feel free to start planting.

8. Let the Weather Warm Up

Wait until the temperatures are between 40 and 60 degrees before planting your roses. You want to give the plant a fighting chance to settle in and form strong roots before summer’s blazing heat arrives.

9. Opt for Quality

Purchase the highest-quality rose bushes that are available at your nursery. The investment of more money will be worth it.

Your chances of growing a healthy, vigorous plant that produces lots of roses will increase. Before buying the plant, look over the root system for signs of damage or dryness.

Hold your plant up and inspect all of it. Don’t just look at the top, look at the roots on the bottom to check for dryness or damage.

If you spot any, it’s a tell-tale sign that this plant is not the best quality and will never reach its full potential. You want to give your plants a chance to thrive.

Do this by picking rose plants that are resistant to common diseases. Check with your local nursery about which problems are most common for roses in your area.

Ask which varieties are best equipped to fight these problems. Without a high-quality rose bush to start with it won’t matter when you plant it. So don’t be cheap – get the best.

5 inspect the roots before planting
Hold your plant up and inspect all of it. Don’t just look at the top, look at the roots on the bottom to check for dryness or damage.

10. Get Familiar With Your Hardiness Zone

Know your hardiness zone to determine when the last frost date is. With this information, you will be able to plant your bare roots or rose plants according to the zone guideline.

Zones are listed one through thirteen. You will find that in most hardiness zones that the optimal time to plant roses is in the early spring.

11. Plant for Zones 3-5

If you live in the far northern portion on the central interior of the mainland you are in an area that has some of the coldest zones which include zones 3, 4, and 5 – with zone 3 being the coldest. The last frost date for zones 3, 4, and 5 is May 15 so you can plant your roses after this date.

For the cold zones of 3, 4, and 5 you will need to wait later to plant your roses so they will thrive. Hold off until the last frost date of May 15th to begin planting. 

6 know the cold zones
For the cold zones of 3, 4, and 5 you will need to wait later to plant your roses so they will thrive. Hold off until the last frost date of May 15th to begin planting. 

12. Plant for Zones 6-8

If you live in the southern middle portion of the mainland and central coastal areas you are in the middle zones of 6, 7, and 8. The last frost date is April 1 to April 15 for zone 6.

For zone 7 the last frost date is mid-April. The last frost date for zone 8 is March 21 to March 31. Plant your roses after these last frost dates.

13. Plant for Zones 9-11

If you live in the deep southern half of the country and on the southern coastal margins you are in the warmer zones of 9, 10, and 11. The last frost date is one to two weeks in January.

Higher zones can be found in Hawaii (up to 12) and Puerto Rico (up to 13). Whereas, the lower zones can be found in Alaska (down to 1).

14. Get the Spot Right

Your roses should get a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day. Ideally, your roses need a large amount of morning sun because it helps dry out the plant’s leaves to prevent diseases. Roses that you grow in partial sun might not die out all at once. However, they can get gradually weaker and produce subpar while overwintering poorly. 

  • Remember that your light will change as the sun’s angle shifts as the season progresses. If you live in the northern part of the United States, you’ll want to pick out a location that gives full sun all year-round. The more sun your roses get, the more flowers it’ll give you. If you live in the southern portion of the United States, make sure the roses get a small amount of shade in the afternoon to help protect the blossoms from the sun’s scorching rays and make your flowers last longer. 
  • For those that live in a colder climate, your roses should be close to your home’s foundation. The foundation will give a little protection during the harsh winter months, and walkways are also ideal locations due to the ability to get full sun. 
  • Roses require well-draining soil that will hold the water long enough for the roots to absorb a little bit when you water them. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to plant your roses in an area without adequate drainage. Roses don’t like cold, wet feet. 
  •  The soil should be loose and loamy with a sandy texture. Too much clay in the soil will cause the roots to get waterlogged. If you’re not starting with a loamy, loose soil, it’s essential that you amend it
  • The soil should also be slightly acidic at 5.5 and 7.0. For most home gardens, a pH level of 6.5 is close to perfect. You should perform a soil test to see where your pH levels are. Acidic soil gets fixed by apply ground limestone, and alkaline soil gets fixed by adding sulfur. 

15. Match Your Support System to Your Rose Variety

Some climbing roses can get bigger, so you want to pick out a variety that does well on your support system size. When you’re planning on putting in a climbing rosebush, you don’t want to set it upright like you would any other rose bush. Instead, you should put it at a 45° angle. 

This will allow the canes to lean toward your support system. If the plant canes aren’t long enough to touch the support system, you can push a stake into the ground and tie the stake directly to the support system. Get stretch tape and attach the rose to the stake to train the canes to eventually grow from the stake over to the support system. You can remove the stake once the canes make it to the support system. 

4 Climbing Roses
Climbing Roses by Steven Polunsky / CC BY 2.0 Climbing roses can add a whimsical look and feel to any support system you put them on, and this is why a lot of people like to put them around their entrances. 

16. Prune with Care 

As a general rule to keep your plants healthy, don’t prune any newly planted roses. The foliage the new plant forms will provide it with energy using photosynthesis for the roots to grow, establish themselves, and make the plant get off to a strong start. Once the roses establish, prune them in the coolest months that you have without any freezing. 

17. Plant Properly to Give Your Plants a Strong Start

Planting containers or bare-root roses correctly will ensure they have a better chance of surviving and thriving. You can: 

  • Your planting hole has to be deep and wide enough to accommodate all of the roots. The area also needs to have excellent drainage since your rose won’t tolerate wet, cold feet. 
  • Mix in a generous amount of peat moss, garden compost, or organic matter with the soil that you removed from the planting hole. Place your plant and backfill with this amended soil to encourage good drainage. Make sure to get some at the bottom of the hole. 
  • You want the plant’s crown to be ground level in mild climates. For cold climates, drop the plant’s crown two to three inches below the ground level. 
  • Once you get the hole half filled in, you should add a slow-release fertilizer to feed the plant. Water it thoroughly and finish filling the hole. 
  • Once you get the soil to ground level, water it again before mounding the loose soil around the plant’s canes to protect it until it acclimates to the spot. 
  • Space your roses at least three feet apart if you want to plant multiple ones together. This will give them growing room as they mature. 

18. Keep the Plants Healthy

The best thing you can do to keep the plants healthy is to pick out varieties that are resistant to diseases. The roses get selected and bred to resist the most common issues like black spot and powdery mildew. 

  • Black Spot – This is a water borne fungal disease that appears as circular brown or black spots on the leaves’ top sides. It starts toward the bottom of your rose bush and slowly works up to cause defoliation. You prevent it the same way you do powdery mildew by improving the air circulation and watering at ground level. A mixture of horticultural oil with baking soda can also help prevent it from spreading. 
  • Insects – A few insects that love to feed on your roses include Japanese beetles, aphids, sawflies, and spider mites. You can control a lot of these insects by applying an insecticidal soap or neem oil. If you have aphids, blast the plants with water in the morning to dislodge them. 
  • Powdery Mildew – This disease usually appears during the summer months when the days get hot and the nights get wet and cool. The leaves start to curl and twist before a powdery, white down appears on them. To avoid this disease, you want to water your plants at the ground level in the morning hours. Wet leaves give it an excellent growing environment, so the morning sun will dry them.  Pruning them will let air circulate through the leaves too. 

19. Winterizing Roses

  • Never prune your rose plants in the fall months. Instead, cut off any diseased or dead canes. 
  • Add compost or mulch around your plants after a few frosts come through and before the ground freezes. If your temperatures fall and stay below freezing during the winter, you should enclose your roses with a mesh cylinder and fill it with pine needles, dry wood chips, chopped leaves, and compost or mulch. Avoid using maple leaves because they encourage mold growth. 
  • Stop fertilizing your roses six weeks before the first frost of the season, but don’t quit watering during the drier fall weather. 
  • Clean up around your rose beds to prevent overwintering any active diseases. Spray for fungus with a dormant spray at the end of the season as an extra precaution. 

Fast Rose Facts

  • Roses are edible, and you can brew your rose petals for tea blends. They’re also used in tonics and gargles to help treat sore throats, congestion, and stomach issues. 
  • Rose water works well on the skin. 
  • Red roses traditionally symbolize desire and love, but each color has a meaning. White roses mean innocence and purity. 
  • Roses are one of June’s birth month flowers.
  • Rose cultivation started in China roughly 5,000 years ago.
  • Rose gardens were established and popular in the Middle East during the Roman Empire.
  • Roses have a very rich, symbolic, and long history. 
  • Queens and kings used roses for legal tender for items during the 17th century.

Cooking Notes

Rugosa roses offer reddish-orange hips that have a very tart flavor. This flavor makes them popular in wine, teas, pies, syrups, jellies, and jams. You can toss rose petals in salads for color. They also look beautiful candied to decorate cakes or distilled for use in rose water. Your roses should be free of pesticides. 

Bottom Line

Roses can be finicky if you’re not careful when you first plant them. The care tips we outlined above will help you baby them along until they establish themselves. Once they do, they are fairly hardy as long as you have the growing conditions correct. Use this guide to grow a variety of beautiful roses in different planting zones all around your home or business, both indoors and out. 

1 best time to plant roses

Rose Plant 1 Rose Plant 2

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