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What To Do If You Can't Plant Your Bare Root Rose Right Away

As a best practice, we recommend planting your bare root rose as soon as you receive it. However, as we all know, sometimes life throws other plans our way! Keep reading to learn the proper steps for storing your rose if you can’t get it in the ground right away.

Storing a bare root rose

POV: Your bare root rose just arrived on your doorstep and something’s come up preventing you from getting it planted right away. Don’t fret! Whether it’s bad weather, a last-minute work trip, or an unplanned illness, there are a couple of methods for storing your rose until you can get it planted in its forever home. Keep in mind, these methods are for temporary storage only and we highly advise planting your rose as soon as possible. Why? 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. So if you must store your rose, follow the steps below carefully to ensure your first-year rose is happy and healthy!

STORING YOUR ROSE FOR UP TO 10 DAYS

As a temporary storage method, wrap the rose back in the plastic bag it came in and leave it in a dark, cool location, with a temperature of 35-42 degrees F (such as a garage, basement or closet) for up to one week. If you are a flower farmer or floral designer with access to a floral cooler or refrigerator, you can store the sealed bag in the cooler at 34 degrees F. Do not leave it in a location where it will freeze or in the warm interior of your house.

In the bare root stage, your rose needs to remain moist and cool to ensure that it stays viable until planting. Do not leave the bag open and let the rose dry out. Use the mist setting on your garden hose nozzle to keep that rose moist and cool until you can plant it! Check on your rose daily to make sure it remains moist, but that mold and fungus are not developing on the canes of roots. The longer the rose is held the more likely it will develop mold or decay on the canes and roots as well as use its stored energy to stay alive, decreasing its vigor and chance of survival once planted.

When you’re ready to plant, refer to Step 2 of our blog post How To Plant Bare Root Roses to learn how to best prepare your rose for planting.

Heeling in a bare root rose

STORING AKA "HEELING IN" YOUR ROSE FOR 2-3 WEEKS

If weather conditions or life prevent you from planting your rose after more than a week to ten days, I recommend you "heel in" your rose. "Heeling in" is a temporary planting of your rose. While it can be an effective technique for holding roses before planting, it should be the last option.

To "heel in," remove the rose from the bag and place it in a 5 gallon bucket, wheel barrow or large tub. Cover the roots with damp, not wet, potting soil or mulch. Store your container and rose in a dark basement or garage with temperatures 35-42 degrees. You can also "heel in" your rose by digging a trench in your yard and lay the rose at a 45 degree angle with the roots and 3/4 of the canes in the hole. Cover the rose loosely with soil and leave it there until you are ready to plant. "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. Learn more details and read step-by-step instructions in our blog post, How to Heel in Bare Root Roses.

Heeling in bare root roses

When life throws you a curveball, follow these steps to store your rose until you can get it in the ground. Remember, these methods are meant for temporary storage only and we recommend planting your rose as soon as you can!

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!