Monty Don reveals the benefits of planting bare root roses – and when to plant them

The celebrity gardener shares his tips for planting bare root roses

Monty Don bare root rose planting tip
(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Recently, celebrity gardener Monty Don revealed his tips planting roses to ensure the very best blooms in a wide choice of varieties year-round.

As any gardener knows, roses can either be bought in pots or as bare root plants in a semi-dormant or dormant state, and according to Don, there are some key reasons why planting bare root roses is preferable to container-grown stock.

Monty Don bare root rose planting tip - Leigh Clapp Gertrude Jekyll

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

‘The reason why I am using bare root roses rather than roses in a pot is that they have a much wider range available, they tend to be cheaper, and also I’ve found that very often they’re good, strong roses,’ he says.

However, he stresses that ‘if planting bare root roses, it’s important to plant them before the bare root season ends in mid-March.’ You can still plant container-grown roses after this, but if planting bare root you must do so in their dormant state, which tends to be from late autumn to early spring.

See: Rose garden ideas – for a colorful and sweetly scented outdoor space

Monty Don bare root rose planting tip - Evelyn rose bloom

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

He also continued to share his key tips for successful planting. Firstly noting that, ‘it’s really important with bare root roses not to let them dry out.’ 

To prevent this, it is advised to plant the roses as soon as possible after their arrival and to soak the roots in a bucket of water before planting. 

If planting in the ground, then the next step is to dig your hole, this needs to be wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots. The size of the roots will vary from plant to plant, but generally a hole around 40cm wide and 40cm deep will be adequate. Roses are hungry plants, so it’s a good idea to add a shovel of manure into the hole at this stage.

Before planting the rose, Monty advises sprinkling the roots of the rose with mycorrhizal fungi, ‘I’m using mycorrhizal fungi as it acts as a conduit, so that the new rose will form a good relationship with the soil so it can take up nutrients and water,’ he explains.

Before planting the rose it’s important to check how deep the roots sit in the hole before infilling with soil, as where the graft sits is crucial explains Monty – this is the point at which the stems meet the root stock. 'The graft needs to be buried,’ he says, ‘I like to put it an inch under the soil.’

Monty Don bare root rose planting tip - Rose Paul's Himalayan Musk

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

If you are tight on space then bare root roses can also be planted in pots. Once you have got yourself a deep terracotta pot with drainage he advises to place crocks in the bottom and to mix up a good potting mixture. 

‘I’ve added extra grit, some garden compost and a shovel full of garden soil,' he explains. 'That will add bacteria and funghi to the mix and keep the whole thing healthy.’

See: How to take rose cuttings – tips for propagating roses

Once the roots of the rose have been placed gently into the deep pot it is time to infill. ‘To make sure that compost gets to all the roots wriggle it about,' says Monty, 'as what you don’t want is air pockets of any kind.’  

Once it's potted simply water and you're ready to watch it grow.

Pippa Blenkinsop

Pippa is a contributor to Homes & Gardens. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.