Planting rosebushes the right way -- some step-by-step directions

The way you plant your rosebushes will determine their beauty and longevity later in the blooming season. Your newly arrived mail-order stock or recently purchased bareroot and potted plants can be an attraction that give much delight if you follow several important but simple step-by-step planting directions.

Planting roses as soon as they arrive is always best and ensures more success. But if you must delay planting for a few days, remove the wrapping and examine the stalks for damage and check moisture.

In the case of potted roses, feel the organic material around the roots. Sometimes plants come wrapped in plastic to retain moisture during shipping. For storage, dampen the sphagnum or organic material, rewrap the roots, and place the plants in a cool but not freezing location.

Another storage technique is to heel the roots in; that is, place them in a V-shaped trench and pack damp soil only around the roots.

If the roots are dry, soak them in water before heeling them in. If the stems are dry, improve their condition by burying the entire plant for a few days in moist soil. Allow frozen plants to thaw out gradually and do not unpack the sphagnum moss or packing material until they are completely free from frost.

Before you break ground for your bareroots plants, carefully inspect them, then trim away any dead or injured growth. Next, soak in water with a soluble plant food. The soaking time depends on dryness, but should not be longer than four hours.

When you're ready to set out to plants, carry them to the garden area in the water solution for protection against the sun and wind. Failure to insulate the roots at this crucial time any result in poor blossoms or plant failure.

A good idea is to prepare all the holes at the same time to ensure regular spacing and uniform planting. Dig the holes in a spot receiving at least half a day of direct sun. The hole depth should be from 12 to 18 inches , depending on the root length, and wide enough to prevent root crowding. Also, select a location that is sheltered from heavy winds.

Planting and pruning vary according to the variety of rose. Generally, where winters are severe, plant hybrid teas, polyanthas, and floribundas two feet apart. Where winter are mild, plant them 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart. For the Southern and Pacific Coast states plant about 4 to 5 feet apart, with climbers 8 to 10 feet.

Notice the soil texture when digging the plant holes. Mix clay loam with coarse sand or peat; add coarse peat or organic matter to a sandy-loam base to improve the soil's water-holding capacity and fertility.

Work the organic matter, Such as decaying plant or animal refuse, peat, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure, well into the soil. Two to four inches of organic matter along a spade length should be sufficient.

Mix this improved soil with a handful of superphosphate and form into a cone in the center of each hole. Now set the bush on top of the cone, with the roots spread out and running down the sides of the cone.

If you've purchased potted roses, thoroughly water the plants, remove the outer container, and dig the hole at least twice the size of the container. Place the plant in the hole at the same level as in the container if the bud union -- the swollen joint above the roots --low the next step similar to the bare-foot plant.

The bud union of bare-root roses should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches below ground level where winters are severe and one-half inch to ground level where winters are moderate. To check the proper bud-union depth place a shovel handle over the hole and measure to the bud union.

Eliminate air pocket by partly filling the hole, then using your hands to firm the soil around the root tubers and hairs. The starter solution where the roots were soaking helps settle the soil. Finish packing and heaping the soil up to 6 to 8 inches to keep the roots from drying out and to provide drainage.

Finally, prune out any dead, weak, or spindly canes and cut down floribundas, hybrid teas, and grandifloras to a height of 10 to 12 inches, but don't prune newly planted climbers or tree roses except for any dead shoots.

One last word about the time to plant. In general, relatively mild winters suggest a planting in the fall or later. But for cold sections where temperatures usually drop too early in the fall for roses to be established before the ground freezes, a spring planting is necessary. Sections with mild winters permit rose growers to plant anytime.

Whatever your decision, praise and beauty are your rewards when your plants present you with splendid roses for home and garden.

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