The Care and Planting Of Bare Root Roses

By Stan V. Griep
Master Rosarian-Rocky Mountain Region ARS
Colorado Native Rosarian 40 plus years experience
Member of: American Rose Society, The Denver Rose
Society, Northern Colorado Rose Society

This is a great time of year to take a look at bare root rosebush care and planting.
Many of us have either already received some bare root rosebushes or will be within the next several weeks.

When I first get my bare root roses I open up the packing box and check each one out thoroughly. Take a good look at each rosebush from the tip of the canes to the bottom of each root. Broken or perhaps moldy looking root areas are pruned off. Broken canes are pruned back to good healthy looking cane tissue if need be. Many of the bare root rosebushes will be in fine shape and truly fine looking specimens. Some unfortunately will not. If we get bare root roses that have some beat up and badly broken canes or canes with splits or lesions upon them, or the roots are damaged in some way or are covered with molds or funguses, we need to contact the customer service folks at the company we ordered them from and let them know. Many times the company really does not know what condition roses may have been shipped out in. They do have standards yes, but when things get very busy trying to get the orders out the standards can slip. I have received bare root roses that were not packed correctly and thus were dry as an old bone laying out in the desert sun when they arrived! Some of the roots snapped off as they were removed from the packing box. There are, at times, some roots that are damaged and it will not hurt the bush to just prune the damaged portion off.

I like to have at least two five gallon buckets of water ready at the time of inspection of my new bare root rosebushes. One is for a quick dip rinse and the other is for soaking the bare root roses. In the soaking bucket I have lukewarm to cool water up to about two inches of the top of the bucket. I like to add a tablespoon or 2 of a product called Super Thrive to the soaking water as well as have a “tea bag” of the Haven Brand Moo Poo Tea soaking in there. Place the bare root rosebushes into the bucket and allow to soak for 24 to 48 hours. More than one such soaking bucket may be needed so as not to overcrowd the rosebushes in the soaking bucket. The soaking is very important to allow the root system to soak up plenty of water to get them well hydrated and thus ready for optimum performance once planted in their new homes. Submerging the union area of the canes partially or totally will not hurt a thing and can help their moisture level as well.

Once they have been nicely soaked it is time for planting them. No matter what area you live in, cold climate or warm climate, I still recommend planting the rosebushes with the union area of the canes at least two inches below what will be the final grade line around the rosebushes. In cold climates this helps in their protection from temperature fluxuations during the winter season, in the warmer climates this will give the bushes a solid base so that they are not as easily whipped about by the wind. Wind rocking can do some real damage to the root system of rosebushes, not to mention the total uprooting in strong sustained winds.  If planted when the weather may still dip down very low, mound the planting soils up onto the canes or place a wall-o-water unit around/over them for protection until the weather evens out. Once planted, I prune two to three inches of the canes off and seal the ends with either Elmer’s white multipurpose glue or the Tacky Glue from a hobby/craft store. The fun part then begins in waiting for the rosebushes to send out their new growth leading to those beautiful bloom smiles!

Tips: Blending some Kelp Meal into the planting soils for the bareroot rosebushes gives them a nice snack to get them growing well. Water the rosebushes in after planting with some water that has a root stimulator product in it too.


Distant Drums – New Rosebud
Stan V Griep
SVG Photography Of 2016


Stans’ Rose “Rev Up” Mix & Process

Are your rosebushes heat stressed, transplant stressed or just plain seem tired?

 Try This!

 Stan’s “Rose Rev Up” Mix

In 1 ½ or 2 gallon container full of water mix the following ingredients:

1/4 – Cup of Epsom Salts

3 – Tablespoons Super Thrive

Root Stimulator of choice as directed on the label for 1 ½  or 2 gallons of water.

Work 1/3 to ½ cup of Kelp Meal into the soils around each rosebush.

Pour half of the container of Rev Up mix around the base of each rosebush, over the area where the kelp meal was added. Wait an hour or two and water in well with watering wand.

Note: Let water for making this mix stand for an hour or so as to let the chlorine dissipate a bit if you have high chlorine in your water.

Tropicana - Hybrid Tea Rose Blooms - "Wedding Romance" - Photo by Stan V. Griep
Tropicana – Hybrid Tea Rose Blooms – “Wedding Romance” – Photo by Stan V. Griep

Spring – “Things to do in the Garden”

 Things to do in the Garden –  Spring_
By Stan “The Rose Man” Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian – Over 40 years experience growing roses.


*        Add a nice layer of compost to all the planted garden areas and work in lightly. For the veggie garden add the compost and till it in well. Let the early Spring rains or wet snows get it all activated for some great garden rewards later.


*        In Early Spring when leaf buds start to open, prune up the rosebushes. Seal the ends of the canes with Elmer’s White glue to prevent those rose borers from attacking the open cut.


*        Clean up all the garden areas of the debris and dead foliage from the Winter.


*        Fertilize the lawn and plants. Feed the roses to get them coming back strongly. Water everything well. Don’t forget to feed your trees too!


*        Once your roses start to leaf out a bit, it is a great time to make a first application of a good fungicide. That first early application will go a very long way to preventing a Black Spot or Mildew attack on that lush new foliage.


*        Check the proper planting time for the veggie and flower seeds and plant them as soon as possible outside. Some things like tomatoes you may want to start early indoors and then move outside when the weather is right. Using the “wall o’ water” protectors will help to allow you to set some plants out early and not have them damaged by those sneaky frosts.


*        Get after those weeds coming up in the garden and lawn areas. Getting rid of them early will save a lot of time and work later. I guess you never really “get rid” of weeds but keeping after them is very important to the success of any garden.


*        If you have plants that you want to move around, the cool early part of Spring is a great time to do so. The cool and rainy weather will help give the plants roots a chance to get going before the hot weather rolls in. Use some Super Thrive or Root Stimulator on all the transplants to help avoid serious transplant shock.


*        For those of you that have those wonderful painted concrete garden and yard ornaments; it is time to wash them off well. Then apply some concrete sealer/ protector to them. This treatment helps seal out the damaging effects of water that may cause your prized ornaments to crumble or crack. It also helps to lock in the color a bit to help them stay looking nice.


*        These are just a few things to think about. I am sure you have more where you are. Get out and enjoy your own great outdoors!

Fertilizer Notes

Fertilizers Notes:
            By Cactus Joe


  1. Organic fertilizers need time to release their “goodies”. The organic nitrogen is not available to plants until they are converted to soluble inorganic forms. Microorganisms in the soil do this job. You, therefore, get a natural form of slow release fertilizer. The release of nutrients is dependent on the population density of the microorganisms that are around to do the job and how active they are. And they work at different rates depending on the soil conditions – temperature, availability of moisture, aeration, etc. Which is just about perfect, since plant growth and nutrient needs increase as the temperature rises, just at the same time when microbial activities increase. These fertilizers, therefore, need to be applied early in the season, because it will take some time for the nutrients to be made available to the plants. How long? This depends – on the type of fertilizer, the soil type, and the ambient temperature. A good practice is to apply a mixture of bone meal (for phosphate) or super phosphate, blood meal or fish meal (for nitrogen) and alfalfa meal in early spring, generally when the first Spring pruning is done and the winter protective mulches are pulled back.


  1. Synthetic fertilizers in general release their ingredients relatively quickly. Unlike organic fertilizers, whose ingredients are stored in the organic non-soluble form until released by microbes, the synthetic fertilizers have ingredients that are soluble, and tend to leach out quickly with the rain. Thus application of these after the roses are showing unfurled leaves is recommended.


  1. The prices of the different synthetic fertilizers depend on the percentage concentration of the nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in the fertilizer and on how the ingredients are packaged. The cheaper ones probably are dissolved and released relatively quickly, whereas some of the mid-range priced ones are a “slow release” granular (but not in the encapsulated form of Osmocote, which is very expensive). Keep in mind that the faster the fertilizers are released, the more likely they are to cause damage due to root burn, and the more quickly they get leached out with rain and watering.


  1. In plant growth and health, both non-mineral and mineral nutrients are essential. The non-mineral nutrients of carbon, oxygen and water are freely available in air and water. These are fixed by the process of photosynthesis, using the sun’s energy. There are 13 mineral nutrients of which there are three primary macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the NPK in your fertilizer label) – and three secondary macronutrients – calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). The secondary macronutrients are usually available in sufficient amounts in most soils, but are more likely to be deficient in sandy soils. When we add lime, we are adding calcium and a bit of magnesium. When we use organic materials – compost, grass clippings – we provide sulphur. The remaining 7 mineral nutrients are micronutrients. These are essential elements that are only needed in small to minute amounts – boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn). If you use lots of organic material, notably from the compost pile, you will be providing plenty of these micronutrients.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But some fertilizers are packaged with small amounts of these, just to be sure. In general, if you have great, organic rich soil, additional application of micronutrients may not be necessary. It’s a different story, however, with container growing – over time, these minerals will be depleted with repeated waterings (and rain). Regular application of a soluble fertilizer is recommended as it has these micronutrients for container grown plants.


  1. Until the soil has built up enough of organic components to its composition, the virgin soil is usually lacking or short of the mineral macronutrients. When plants first grow on those soils, their growth “sucks” those macronutrients out of the soil, depleting the soil quickly. That’s where the bulk of fertilizing comes in – to constantly replenish the soil of these nutrients, especially at times of vigorous and rapid vegetative growth. Of these macronutrients, nitrogen (the N in NPK) promotes top growth – stems, foliage. It contributes to chlorophyll production, which gives the green color of healthy plants. More chlorophyll means increased photosynthetic capability therefore more plant growth. (Memory Note:  N = UP, P = DOWN and K = ALL-AROUND)


  1. Phosphorus (the P in NPK) promotes root development and increases flowering ability and bloom size. This is useful when you are planting that new mail order bare root rose in the garden, or when you are transplanting. It helps the plant establish faster by helping it grow a good root system quickly. Once established, it continues to help the plant maintain a good root system and promote flowering.


  1. Potassium (the K in NPK) is multi-functional. It promotes disease resistance and improves drought and cold tolerance. It helps in improving root development and promotes photosynthesis. I apply high-potassium fertilizer in late fall/early winter to improve cold hardiness. Some would recommend an application in early summer to improve tolerance to excessive summer heat, or for recovery from pest damage. 


  1. Most of you probably know (but some may like to know) that the three numbers, e.g. 6-8-6, refer to the percentages by weight respectively of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer. In another example of NPK of, say, 20-10-4, the respective compositions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are 20%, 10% and 4%. A laterally thinking gardener would jump out of his chair and exclaim, “Hey! That’s only 34%!” Well, yes. Because the rest is made up by other ingredients, largely fillers. The fillers help you spread the fertilizers more evenly. Moreover, the choice of the filler determines how quickly the fertilizer gets released into the soil.



Planting Roses in Colorado

Planting Roses in Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience


Some early planning precedes a good planting. I like to plan where some new roses will go the next spring in the preceding fall. I dig the holes for them, amend the soils well and then refill the holes for the roses leaving a 5 or 6-inch mound of the amended soils in each location. By doing this very early digging and amending, the soils have all the rest of the fall and winter to get fully activated. By the time I am ready to plant a new rose, its new home is all ready and in top condition to welcome the new or transplanted rose. The natural nutrients in the amended soils are ready and waiting for the rose to take them up for good growth as well as creating a very favorable environment for the root zone to take hold in. 

This same preparation for the new rose or roses can take place in early spring as well, however the amended soils will not have as much time to get activated and ready for optimum root zone use.


I dig the rose holes approximately 18 inches in diameter and approximately 18 inches deep. The freshly dug soils are placed in a wheelbarrow along with some compost, a good clay buster amendment and some play sand. I sprinkle alfalfa meal over the contents of the wheelbarrow until the entire surface area has a greenish coloration from the alfalfa meal. Using my garden fork I turn the original soils and amendments over and over until well mixed. You will find that the soils mix gets easier and easier to work as it is turned. I remove all clumps of clay that do not want to break up and mix in well. If I have some rabbit droppings available at the time I am doing the soils amending, a heaping garden shovel full of the droppings is added into the soils mix as well.

All tiny and large roots in the planting hole area are cut back and removed. While digging the planting hole the sides of the hole can become very packed. I use my hand cultivator and loosen up the soils on the sides of the planting hole before refilling the hole or doing any future plantings as well. The freshly amended soils are then placed back into the planting hole leaving the 5 to 6 inch mound at the top. I create a little bowl edge around the mound to help trap any moisture and help carry that moisture in to the newly amended soils area. 


When the time comes to plant the new rose or roses, the earlier amended soils are much easier to dig out to create room for the new planting. As the soils are removed for the planting they are placed either in a wheel barrow or five gallon bucket making it easy to use them to fill in around the new planting. I place some super phosphate or bone meal in the bottom of the planting hole and mix it in with the soils there. This natural food gives the roots a real boost to get things growing. Once the planting hole is about half full with the replaced soils, I sprinkle ½ cup of alfalfa meal and 1/3 cup Epsom Salts all around the new bush mixing it in lightly with the soils.


The planting hole is then filled the rest of the way up to ground level. I move some of the soils in and around the union of the rose and may or may not cover the union at this time depending on the timing of the planting.

The rest of the soils are pulled back to form a bowl of sorts all around the outer diameter of the bush. The rosebush looks a little bit like a castle in the center of a moat. Extra amended soils are used to build up and firm up the edges of the bowl around the bush. The bush is watered well and the bowl around it filled with mulch. In my case I use either shredded cedar mulch or pebble mulch. (I call the bowls formed this way “banquet bowls” as they help deliver the food and water to my roses.)  :o) The bowl formed around the rosebushes acts as a great catch basin for spring rains as well as aiding in the overall deep watering of the rose bush when watered by hand or even with a drip irrigation system.


I have found this method of planting my roses eliminates the forming or encouragement of “rose suckers” from planting the rose union deeply right away (As an aid in future winter protection the union is often buried a good 2 inches below the surrounding grade level.).

Rose suckers are new shoots that come up from the rose planting that are below the grafting or union point of the rose bush.


If you plant only “own root” roses you will not have to concern yourself with taking such precautions against sucker shoots.


With my bowl method the graft or union area of the rose is left above the planting soils yet still below the surrounding grade level until the time comes for it to be protected. Very early spring plantings may require that the union/graft area be covered for a while until the weather gets more settled towards being warmer.


Once the time comes for winter protection, the bowl around the rose is used to add extra soils to create part of the mound for protection of the rose’s union/graft area. Soils are mounded up over the graft/union area first.

Mulch of some kind is then added to help hold the soils in place and help prevent the protection of the mounded soils from eroding away throughout the winter.


The last frost date here in Northern Colorado is around May 15th, but keep your eye on the weather reports.


Plant some new roses to add beautiful color and wonderful fragrance to your gardens this year!



Tuscan Sun - Floribunda Rose - First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 - Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012
Tuscan Sun – Floribunda Rose – First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 – Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012

Deadheading Roses

Deadheading Roses
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 year of Rose Growing Experience 


The subject of “deadheading” or the removal of the old blooms from our roses seems to generate some controversy much the same as pruning them. Basically, when it comes to deadheading your rosebushes, I recommend using a method that gives you the results you are looking for. Should you be told that you are doing it “all wrong”, do not immediately believe that you are.


I witnessed and was taught various methods of deadheading by my Grandmothers and my Mother as a young man. I not only witnessed and learned each method but also saw how the rosebushes responded to each method. For my mother, a side concern of deadheading seemed to be how the overall bush looked after the deadheading routine, as far as its overall shape and harmony with the garden or bed the roses were in. Deadheading was not only the removal of the spent blooms, it was also a time to shape the rosebush and consider how and where the new growth would come in.


My grandmother, Mary May, would walk around her rose gardens at deadheading time and take a particular spent bloom in her hand. With a quick motion she would “snap” the bloom off. This would leave a bare stick of a stem standing up in the air a little ways above the foliage. There was no shaping of the bush done with her method, as all she really cared about was the pretty blooms. The looks of the overall bush really did not seem to matter so much to her. She felt that she got repeat blooms quicker using her method and stuck with it.


My grandmother, Molly, would prune off the spent blooms down to a healthy looking leaf set junction with the cane. It did not need to be a five-leaf junction. The pruning point could be at a three-leaf junction as long as the cane looked sturdy and healthy there. Although she did not really concern herself with the overall shape of the rose bush, her method always left the rose bush looking better without all the remaining stems sticking up in the air all over the place. Well, in my opinion anyway!


Over the years, I honestly do not remember the differences in repeat blooming being that great with any of the methods. I do remember my grandmother Mary May that used the “snap-off “deadheading method, complaining sometimes that a new big bloom would sag or “flop over” as its stem was too weak to support the new big rose bloom


I have heard and read that deadheading to the first 5-leaf junction when pruning Hybrid Tea roses is a “myth”. Yet I have observed first hand the problems that can come about by not doing so, especially with large blooms. There have been times when I have pruned, or deadheaded, back to a second five or more leaf junction just because the cane looked too small in diameter to support a new nice big bloom.

One rule of thumb that I have read about was deadheading to the first 5 or more leaf junction where the cane diameter is approximately that of a pencil. There is no need to get out any form of measuring device to check the diameter. It is simply a matter of what looks sturdy when comparing the diameter of the cane or stem at the point considered for deadheading, and the diameter of the stem for the bloom that is to be deadheaded. If the bloom being deadheaded was a nice big one and did not sag or droop, then that same diameter of cane should be sufficient to support the new growth and bloom. If the bloom being deadhead did have a droopy nature, perhaps it would be best to prune back to a larger diameter leaf-set to cane junction.


With Floribunda and Grandifloras I learned to prune back to a sturdy looking leaf-set to cane junction. The five-leaf rule does not need to apply with these wonderful bushes. Nor does it apply to deadheading my miniature rosebushes. Still of concern with these rosebushes is keeping an eye on where the new growth will come in at, or in other words, deadhead to a leaf-set junction where the new growth will go in the proper direction for the particular bush. When the overall rosebush has a tight center portion already, it would be best to deadhead to a point where the new growth will go out and away from that tight center growth area. For my floribunda and grandifloras I prefer to have a full looking bush so I will deadhead to a point where the new growth will come more into the center area of the bush at times.


One key thing I recommend before deadheading any rosebush is to step back and take a good look at the current rosebush. Then do your deadheading looking towards where the new growth needs to go to either achieve or maintain the shape that you desire for the overall rosebush.


As one of my final touches after deadheading, I seal the ends of all the freshly pruned canes with Elmer’s White Glue. This helps to keep the cane borers or cane boring wasps from entering into the tender fresh center pith of these cut cane ends causing the death of the cane, a portion of the cane and even sometimes the entire rosebush. It is important to use the non-water soluble White glue and not the school glue so that the hard seal is maintained over the cut end of the cane and does not wash off. Some folks tell me they have used wood glue for this but I cannot recommend its use, as when I used wood glue it caused significant cane die-back from the point of its application. I have been informed that some formulations of wood glue may contain chemicals that will cause the die back of the living tissues.


My final touch to the deadheading process is to water each rose well and gently rinse down all the foliage on each bush that has been deadheaded. The roses do seem to appreciate as well as respond to this final touch.


Find a deadheading method that gives you the results you like and stick with it. No matter what method or technique you choose, enjoy tending to your roses! They enjoy the time you spend with them and will reward you in full measure. 



Honey Bouquet - Floribunda Rose - Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011
Honey Bouquet – Floribunda Rose – Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011

Pruning Rosebushes

Pruning Roses in Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience

I am what is known as a “Spring Pruner” when it comes to pruning roses. Instead of pruning the roses way down in the fall after they have gone dormant, I like to wait until early spring when I see the leaf buds starting to form up well. My taller rose bushes do get a pruning down to about half their height once they have gone dormant in the fall. The fall pruning I do is to help prevent damage to the overall bush from winter winds and heavy snows. The winds and heavy snows can break over long rose canes causing great damage to the overall bush, sometimes to the bushes nearby as well.

I do the standard “by the book” type pruning with my hybrid tea roses for the most part. I select an outward facing leaf bud eye and prune on an angle away from the bud eye 3/16 to ¼ inch above the bud eye. That cut is then sealed with white glue that is not water-soluble. There are times when a particular cane may be at a fairly harsh angle from the center of the bush. In such cases I will select an inward facing bud eye and prune there. By pruning at the inward facing bud eye the new cane that grows forth will come back into alignment with the rosebush for a better looking overall bush. You need to look at each rose bush kind of like an artist looks at a blank canvas. Picture how you want the rose to be shaped. Then prune the bush accordingly. I prune all of my rosebushes with the “blank canvas” approach. A blooming rose bush is truly beautiful without a doubt. However a rosebush with wonderful overall form and loaded with beautiful blooms is indeed a work of art.

Here in Colorado, even with mounding the rose for winter protection, we can get some very significant cane dieback on our roses. There have been many times when the canes that are left on the roses after spring pruning are only 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Pruning down that far is required to get to a good white center of cane pith and a healthy bud eye. Such harsh pruning can make it extremely tough on the “blank canvas” approach yet it is still possible. You need to focus on where the bud eye is located and envision where the particular cane will be as it grows. You do not want canes to cross over one another creating a jumbled mess in the bush where insects or funguses can cause problems. Yet you do want a nicely shaped bush with lush foliage to properly display the beauty of the blooms.

The floribunda and grandifloras roses get pruned in much the same way as the hybrid teas except that I do not worry much about finding outward facing bud eyes. I still keep in mind where a cane will go as it grows so as to avoid the crossing canes. However with the floribundas and grandifloras I like a full looking rosebush that will fully present the beauty of the clusters of blooms against their rich foliage.

In my opinion, when making the pruning cut, it is better to have a flatter cut than a cut that is too steep. The angle of the cut is somewhat important to allow moisture runoff and such, yet it is not a crucial error if the cut is considerably more flat than a 45-degree angle.
The cut end of the cane can still be sealed and the new growth that forms from the bud eye still has a good base for support. Whereas a pruning cut that is too steep exposes more of the center pith than should be exposed and provides an extremely weak foundation point for the new growth. The steep cuts are also extremely hard to get a good seal on and will tend to allow easier pest invasion.

My mini roses are truly easy to prune as I simply prune away the winterkilled portions of their canes while forming up the bush. If the centers of the mini roses are too full I simply prune a couple of small canes out and the bush is done. In no time at all the new growth will have the overall form of the bush right where I want it.

When deadheading my roses I prune back to the first five-leaf junction with the main rose cane, as long as the cane in that area is sturdy and at least 3/16 of an inch in diameter. Too small of a cane at the area of new growth generation and future rose blooms will cause a sagging effect if the roses blooms are large blooms. In cases where the cane is too thin at the first five-leaf junction, I will prune down to the next junction where the cane is the desired size. The mini roses are an exception to this deadheading/pruning. When pruning my mini roses I simply prune off the bloom down to where the stem meets with the first group of leaves with no apparent effect upon the size or support of the rose blooms to follow.

Some other very important things to remember when pruning are:

1. Always seal the ends of the pruned canes that are 3/16 of an inch or larger in diameter with white glue or tree wound tar type sealer. This will help keep the cane borers away.

2. Always wipe down the pruners cutting blades with a Clorox or Lysol disinfectant wipe or dip the cutting blades into some form of disinfectant solution after pruning each bush. In some cases it may be necessary to wipe or dip them after each cut, such as when pruning out an infected or diseased cane. You do not want to spread the disease from an infected cane or bush to other canes or other rosebushes.

3. When finished pruning for the day and after disinfecting your pruners, spray the blades with some silicone lubricant spray or other protective lubricant. It does not take long for rust to form and damage your pruners. Plus the lubricant helps keep the pruners working well and not so hard on arthritic hands.

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