Plant your rose bushes in the fall

Plant your rose bushes in the fall

Roses! The very name brings to my imagination wonderful fragrance, gorgeous colors and the thrill of seeing the first buds open in late spring.

I must admit that these images, at least in part, come from frequent visits to the lovely rose garden at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center on Hanley Road in Central Point.

So, the Master Gardeners who maintain that garden are the ones I consulted to get the best information on growing roses here in the Rogue Valley, because now is the best time to plant bare-root roses. Roses can be planted in the spring, too, but fall planting is very successful in this climate, as it gives them time to develop roots over the winter.

As with any gardening, some pre-planning is in order. Roses grow best when they receive a minimum of six hours of sun daily. Keep in mind that more sun means more roses. Although roses will grow in a wide range of soils, the soil must be well prepared at planting time.

Plant the rose within a few days of receiving it. On the day it will go in the ground, remove and discard any packing material such as shredded paper, bark, burlap, a box or what have you. Then, soak the roots for a few hours.

Next, dig a planting hole that is large enough to allow ample room for you to spread out the roots. If you are planting a climbing rose, locate the hole so that the plant stem will be about a foot from the base of the trellis. Discard — or relocate to another part of the garden — one-third of the soil dug from the hole, and replace it with at least an equal amount of organic matter. This could be compost, aged manure or leafmold. Mix that well with the remaining soil.

Now create a cone, or mound, in the bottom of the hole and put your soaked rose on top of the mound, letting the roots hang down. The bud union, which is the bulge where the top was grafted onto the root-stock, should be about one inch above soil level. Push the remaining mixture of soil and organic matter back into the hole, covering the roots. Do not pack the soil down — just water the rose well.

Heap some compost or leaf mulch around the stem of the rose to cover the bud union. This will prevent it from drying out from wind and sun over the winter.

In the spring, check your rose every few days for signs of growth. When you see it, pull back the compost from around the stem and treat your new plant to some slow-release fertilizer, such as fish emulsion or seaweed extract. Repeat this fertilizer every six or eight weeks during the growing season.

If you follow this procedure with your roses, you will find that you have fewer problems with insects and disease because you are keeping the plants healthy, plus growing them in well-drained soil. Healthy plants are much less susceptible to trouble.

For rose pruning, I strongly suggest that you attend the Master Gardener workshop on that topic that is held each spring; this year, it will be on March 5. And visit the SOREC rose garden at any time of the year.

Aaah! I can almost smell the roses now!

Coming up: On Wednesday, Oct. 27, Christie Mackison of Shooting Star Nursery will discuss "Low-water and Deer-resistant Plants," covering two of the most common gardening problems in the Rogue Valley. The class will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at SOREC, 569 Hanley Road in Central Point. The cost is $5.

Register now for the 12th annual Master Gardener all-day symposium "Winter Dreams-Summer Gardens" to be held Saturday, Nov. 6, at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center in Medford. The $40 fee ($20 for full-time students) covers four classes of your choice, plus lunch. Registration materials are available at most garden centers, online at http://extension.orst/sorec/mg or by calling 541-776-7371.

Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. E-mail her at

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