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A rose bush is a symbol of beauty, a living piece of art that you can bring into your garden. But have you ever considered growing your own roses? 

Planting roses from cuttings or bare-root plants can be intimidating at first, but it’s quite easy once you know what to do. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to plant roses in your garden.



When to plant roses


In temperate climates like most parts of Australia, the best time to plant roses is in the spring (September-November) or autumn (March-May). This gives the rose plants enough time to establish themselves before the cold winter months arrive. It also gives them plenty of time to grow before summer comes with its higher temperatures and longer days.



Where to plant roses

Roses love the sun and need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, so pick an area with plenty of bright light.

Avoid planting them in low-lying areas where water tends to pool. If your garden doesn’t get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, consider planting roses in containers so you can move them around until you find the perfect spot.



Preparing the soil for planting roses

Most roses prefer well-draining soils with plenty of organic matter mixed in. Carefully loosen the soil in the chosen planting area with a shovel or spade.

It’s also important to make sure that the soil drains well and isn’t overly wet or dry. If it’s too saturated with water, you’ll end up with soggy roots and a dead plant! Mix in some organic matter, such as compost, peat moss or mulch, to help loosen the soil and improve drainage.



All you need to know about planting roses

Woman gardener transplanting red roses flowers from pot into wet soil. Summer spring garden work.

Planting roses can be fun and rewarding, but it’s important to have the right supplies before you start. Here are some essential items you’ll need:

  • Roses: Of course, you’ll need roses! Be sure to choose a rose variety that will do well in your climate.
  • Soil: Good quality soil is essential for healthy roses. To enrich your soil, amend it with compost or other organic matter before planting.
  • Potting mix: If you’re growing roses in pots, you’ll need a high-quality potting mix to get the best blooms.
  • Fertiliser: Roses are heavy feeders, so you’ll need to fertilise them regularly. Choose a fertiliser specially formulated for roses.
  • Mulch: A layer of mulch around your roses will help keep moisture and prevent weeds.
  • Gloves: Gardening gloves offer a physical barrier to potential prickles and thorns from the rose bush.
  • Pruning shears: You’ll need pruning shears to keep your roses looking tidy. Invest in a good pair of shears that are comfortable to use.


With these supplies, you’re ready to plant your rose garden!



How to cultivate a new rose plant

Once you have chosen your site and purchased the plants, it’s time to get to work.

  1. Dig a planting hole about twice the size of the container your rose plant was purchased in.
  2. Gently loosen the roots before planting, and add some compost or organic matter to the hole.
  3. Remove the rose from its pot gently and place it into the hole so that the crown (where the roots meet the stem) is slightly below ground level but still exposed enough for air circulation around it.
  4. Fill the hole with soil until it is level with the surrounding area.
  5. Water well and add mulch around the base of the plant.



How to plant bare-rooted roses

Before you can plant bare-root roses, you’ll need to do some preparation.

  1. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 1 to 12 hours. This will help to hydrate the roots and make them more pliable.
  2. Dig a hole that’s large enough to accommodate the roots. Make sure that the hole is deep enough so that the graft union (the point where the roots meet the stem) is at least 5cm below the soil line.
  3. Carefully remove the rose from the bucket and place it in the planting hole.
  4. Backfill the hole with soil and organic matter. Then gently firm the soil around the rose plant, so it’s secure.
  5. Water well and mulch around the plant to help keep moisture.



How to plant roses in pots


  1. Select a pot with drainage holes that are large enough to accommodate the roots of your rose bush. Rose bushes can get pretty big, so you’ll need a pot that is at least 45cm in diameter.
  2. Once you’ve got your pot, fill it with a mix of half high-quality potting mix and half sand. Roses require a lot of water, so it is important to use a mix that will not keep too much moisture.
  3. Plant your rose bush at the same depth it was growing in its previous pot or in the ground. Gently backfill the hole with soil, tamping it down lightly as you go.
  4. Water your rose bush thoroughly. Continue to water it regularly, especially during periods of hot weather. Be sure to keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil, as roses do not like to have wet feet.



How to plant roses from cuttings

  1. Begin by cutting a 15-20cm piece of the stem off of an existing rose plant. Make sure the stem you choose has at least five leaves on it and that it’s free of any disease or pests.
  2. Once you have chosen a suitable stem, use your pruning shears to cut it at an angle just below one of the nodes (a node is where a leaf attaches). This will give your cutting more surface area to absorb water and help encourage root growth.
  3. Remove the bottom leaves and dip the cut end in rooting hormone. After dipping your rose stem in the hormone, shake off any excess powder.
  4. Fill a pot with potting mix or organic compost, and make sure there’s enough room for both the roots of your rose cutting as well as its leaves and branches.
  5. Place your cutting into the soil so that only half of its leaves are buried beneath the soil line and firm down gently around its base. You can cover the entire pot with a plastic bag with holes poked in it for drainage; this will keep humidity levels high while also preventing fungus gnats from inhabiting your new rose plant.
  6. Water sparingly until roots form, which is usually within four weeks. Then water more often once established roots have grown in size and strength.
  7. In four to six weeks, your rose cutting should be rooted and ready to transplant into your garden.



Caring for your rose plants



Rose plants need at least 2.5cm of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation. Soak the soil around the plants thoroughly, but don’t let the roots sit in water. Also, don’t spray the leaves and flowers to prevent disease.



Roses only need to be fed every four to six weeks during the growing season. Use a fertiliser formulated specifically for roses, and apply it according to the package directions.



Roses benefit from being pruned back in late winter or early spring. Pruning roses regularly helps to promote new growth and encourages more abundant blooming. Cut or deadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage new blossoms.



Aim for at least 45 cm between each rose bush. Although rose bushes can vary in size, it’s important to plant them with enough space between each bush to allow for adequate air circulation. This is important in areas with hot, humid summers to prevent fungal diseases.




A beautiful climbing rose growing on a wooden frame

Climbing rose plants can get pretty big, so make sure to provide support in the form of trellises or stakes.



Beware of pests and diseases

Roses often evoke a sense of romance and beauty, but keeping rose plants in good health can be a challenge since they are susceptible to many common pests and diseases. Watch for aphids, caterpillars, black spot, and powdery mildew. Take steps to control them as soon as you see any sign of trouble.



Rose companion plants

Some good companion plants for growing roses include annuals and perennials such as impatiens, petunias, and marigolds. These plants can provide complementary colours and textures, and they also help to deter pests and diseases.

Herbs such as basil, lavender, and oregano can make excellent companions for roses. Not only do they add flavour to your garden, but they also help to repel insects.



Like a rose, you have room to grow

Roses have been revered for centuries as symbols of beauty, love, and passion. Though they may be seen as high-maintenance by some, roses are not too difficult to grow once you know the basics. Like any plant, they need regular watering, trimming, and fertilising to stay healthy. Our pruning and trimming services can help keep your rose bushes looking their best.

About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.


About Author

Jamie Donovan

Jamie is an Australian horticulturalist and landscape designer. He enjoys writing about landscape architecture, garden design and lifestyle topics.