By Kristen Smith
So you are perusing the selection at a garden center and you see some twigs wrapped in attractive packaging with colorful pictures of rose blooms promising that someday this back of twigs will one day look so beautiful. Really? What is a bareroot rose and what are the advantages of purchasing it over a container rose and vice versa?
A bareroot rose is typically harvested from a production field in late fall; stored in wet, cold storage over the winter, and shipped out to garden centers in January, February, March and April, depending on your area of the country. A bareroot rose is pretty much what the name implies – a rose without any soil around the root and leafless.
Purchasing a bareroot rose has many advantages to the consumer.
- Cost – it is typically much less expensive to purchase a bareroot rose vs. a container rose since it is cheaper to ship, does not have to be sold in a costly pot, and overall has had much less resources put into growing it – think about all the time, labor, fertilizer, and chemicals that go into growing a rose in container production.
- Availability – typically a consumer has a much wider selection to choose from when purchasing bareroot – particularly if you choose to purchase from an online retailer.
- Easier transplant to the garden – Bareroot roses can be planted early in the season, and may even be able to withstand a few frosts if planted before the buds begin to break. It is wise not to purchase a bareroot rose too late in the season – the general rule is if it two weeks past your last frost free date –it is too late to purchase and plant bareroot. The reason being, at this point the bareroot rose has probably already started sending out leaves and has likely been stressed at the garden center. This foliage will likely “burn off” upon transplanting, setting the rose up for delay and disaster in the ground.
Container roses are of course lovely to look at when they are in full bloom at the garden center, and a lot are probably purchased out of impulse because they look just so darn good!
One of the best advantages to buying a container is because if it has blooms on it, you will know exactly what to expect without having to rely on the picture which may not always be an exact indication of size, color, or possible fragrance. It is best to be advised that these fully leafed out, blooming plants may need a bit more pampering when making the transition to the garden. Be sure to water in well especially if you experience a stretch of warm weather around the time of transplant. It may be best to deadhead the rose upon transplant so the plant can put more energy into its roots establishment in the soil. The faster the roots grow out and establish, the less you will have to rely on watering. Also, be a smart consumer – be sure to look the plant up, down, left, and right before purchasing to ensure you are bringing home a healthy plant. Take a glance at the root system. The roots should be to the base of the pot and be easy to remove from the pot without crumbling or falling apart. Conversely the roots shouldn’t be growing out of the pot or so dense in the pot that you can barely tell there is soil. Also be sure the top growth looks nice, lush and green and that the there are no obvious pests or diseases. Starting with a strong healthy plant will ensure you rose will make the best transition to your garden site.
Whether you purchase a bareroot or container rose, you should expect many years of enjoyment out of your new rose!