During this past week of wind and freezing temperatures, my order of bare-root roses arrived, including double pink ‘Felicite Parmentier’ (4 x 4 feet / 1.2 x 1.2 m, Zone 5), a hardy Alba that tolerates light shade. (I selected non-remontant, summer-blooming shrubs, because they bloom before Japanese beetles mature and become hungry.)
The soil had a frozen crust, the midday temperatures hovered around freezing and there was lots of wind—not the best circumstances for planting roses! I want to hold the roses for about five days before planting, so they needed some careful handling. I opened the box in the garage and found the roses wrapped in two layers of heavy plastic bags. Their roots were moist and healthy, and some of the canes had started growing, with sprouts two inches (5 cm) long.
First, I dampened some newspaper with a spray of water and wrapped it around the roots to provide a moist atmosphere, and keep them away from the plastic. Then came the hard part—removing the shoots. Growing shoots will try to draw moisture from the roots, and while out of the ground, roots have little ability to service emerging new growth. Removing the shoots relieves stress on the rose shrub, and there are plenty more buds on the canes that will sprout once the plants are in the ground.
I put the shrubs with their wrapped roots back in the plastic bag and loosely folded the top over, leaving plenty of open folds for air circulation. In the dark, unheated garage, they’ll be held at about 4°C and likely won’t mind a little more sleep before making their garden debut.
When I do start planting the roses, I’ll be sure to spread a protective leaf mulch over their crowns and short canes to prevent wind and sunburn. They need to harden their surface tissues to withstand the turbulent spring air. I won’t provide any fertilizer, as they don’t have foliage to process it, but will add composted manure and alfalfa pellets to the soil, and give them a big drink of water. Those Japanese beetles are going to be so disappointed!
Other posts by Judith this week:
Posts by Judith last week: