🌹JUST DROPPED: THE 2023 BARE ROOT ROSE COLLECTION🌹

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How to Heel In Bare Root Roses

While we recommend planting your bare root rose right away, we understand that life happens! Read below to learn how to “heel in” your rose for temporary storage before planting.

Bare root roses heeling in a wheelbarrow.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HEEL IN A BARE ROOT ROSE?

"Heeling in" is a process used to hold your rose a little longer before planting in its forever home. Heeling in is done by LOOSELY burying most of the entire plant in a trench, hole, wheelbarrow, or bucket, and covering the roots loosely with moist soil. While it can be an effective technique for holding roses before planting, it should be the last option. You should aim to get your roses in the ground as soon as you can. Dormant bare root roses are living off of their stored energy and the longer they stay unplanted the more stored energy they use to survive. A plant with less food reserves will have a more difficult time acclimating to its new home and may struggle after planting time experiencing cane dieback and general low vigor. 

WHEN TO PLANT A BARE ROOT ROSE

You’ve selected the perfect bare root rose to order from our nursery and now it’s time to plant. If you don’t already know your growing zone you can use the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone map to help you identify your growing zone to determine the best time to a bare root rose in your growing zone. Bare root roses are planted January through May across the Northern Hemisphere depending on your growing zone. However, there are some exceptions to the best times to plant in your location.

For example, flower farmers who plant in tunnels, greenhouses, or other sheltered environments that mimic conditions in warmer zones, will plant earlier than their usual zone-planting time. Every growing season is different, too. You may end up with a freak cold snap in the spring, or experience an early autumn heat blast, so regularly track your weather and local growing conditions to determine the best time to plant. 

Recommended planting month by USDA Zone:

Zones 9-13 January-February

Zone 8 Mid-late February

Zone 7 Early-mid March

Zone 6 Mid-late March

Zones 4-5 Early-mid April

Zone 3 Mid April-early May

Heeling in bare root roses.

WHEN TO HEEL IN A BARE ROOT ROSE

I recommend planting your bare root rose right away, however a last-minute work trip or unexpected freeze might throw off your plans. If weather conditions or life prevent you from planting your rose after more than a week to ten days of receipt, you can "heel in" your bare root rose as a temporary storage method until you can plant.

WHAT SUPPLIES DO I NEED TO HEEL IN A BARE ROOT ROSE?

Heeling in doesn’t require a lot of tools. All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, wheel barrow or large tub and some potting soil, compost or mulch!

HOW DO I HEEL IN MY BARE ROOT ROSE?

Container Method

Step 1: Remove the rose from the bag and place it in a 5 gallon bucket, wheel barrow, or metal tub. Really anything you have lying around the house will work too like a small garbage can or plastic storage tub.

 

Step 2: Place the roses in the container at a 65-45 degree angle. Loosely cover the roots with damp, not wet, potting soil or mulch.

 

Step 3: Store your container and rose in a dark basement, garage or yard with temperatures 35-42 F degrees. Keep away from heat and light. Check on your roses every 2-3 days and mist your potting media as needed to ensure your rose stays moist. Inspect the roses for any dieback or mold forming. If you see signs of dieback on the canes or mold or buds popping out, then it means it's past time to plant your rose. 

Outdoor Method

This method follows the same steps as the container method except you are loosely planting your bare root a trench outside instead of a bucket, tub or wheelbarrow.

Step 1: Dig a trench in your yard.

Step 2: Lay the rose at a 45 degree angle with the roots and 3/4 of the canes in the hole.

Step 3: Cover the rose loosely with native soil, potting soil, mulch or compost and leave it there until you are ready to plant.

 Step 4: Check on your roses every 2-3 days and mist your potting media as needed to ensure your rose stays moist. Inspect the roses for any dieback or mold forming. If you see signs of dieback on the canes or mold or buds pushing out, then it means it's past time to plant your rose. 

Remember, "heeling in" is only a temporary storage option and I highly advise planting your rose in its forever home as soon as conditions allow. While you can "heel in" your roses for longer aim to get them planted within 2-3 weeks so rooting doesn't begin. For more information on caring for your bare root rose the first year and beyond, I recommend contacting your local Rose Society or Master Gardeners for additional assistance and recommendations specific to growing roses in your climate zone or becoming a member of the Menagerie Academy my online learning community filled with resources for growing great roses. 

Photos by: Jill Carmel Photography

This post may contain affiliate links. I make a small commission if you purchase a product from the link. I only recommend products I love and use in hopes they will help you too! 

 

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