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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Soaking the New Bare Root Roses - Scholars Are Divided

Veteran's Honor

I was first taught to soak roses and add fertilizer to the soaking solution! I planted roses in Midland, Columbus, St. Louis, and New Ulm before trying them in Phoenix. I did not add fertilizer - it struck me as dumb and expensive.

When the newly planted roses did not come out of dormancy in Phoenix after a week, I phoned the company and found myself listening to a tirade. In the desert, I was not supposed to soak bare-root roses first, but plant them and cover them with cardboard boxes or paper bags to prevent drying out. The little white leaf buds that came out from soaking were meaningless and would drop off. The green/red leaves had to sprout to prove the roots had awakened and grown.

The first roses were late in breaking dormancy. They were replaced with new ones, and soon there were roses all over the place. That was for another person's garden. I did not like growing roses in Phoenix and settled for cacti after that.

I began reading on the Net about whether to soak or not. The answers from experts varied from soak for 24 hours (at least!) even for weeks (it has happened!) to a few hours (minimum!) or  soak a bit (only if they cannot be planted at once). One insisted on adding bleach to the water, which is just below starting a rock band on my list.

Some facts are indisputable.

  1. The roses are stored dormant, so they are not yet awake when they arrive, even if some whitish growth appears on the canes. 
  2. The canes and roots must be kept moist if they are not planted at once.

Bellaroma - beautiful sight and fragrance.

My Reasoning for No Soak
Getting the tiny root hairs growing and making the plant stable in the soil are the initial goals. The sprouting of real leaves mean the plant is growing and gathering energy for growth and blooming. I recall my latest bare root roses were blooming a month later.

Soaking roses in water for hours, days, and weeks, will keep them alive, but moving them into the soil will disrupt root hair growth, which is also where the fungi trade nutrition for carbon. Why delay that happy bartering system?

Therefore, I am not keen on soaking roses unless planting will be delayed. I do not see any advantage in the soak. The roots can be kept moist in the soil, after planting, with generous watering, and the canes can be sprayed with water. All plants like their baths, especially when rain is not falling regularly.

I have clay soil, so I will mix some mushroom compost with it as I plant. I like to use the dug up turf near the top as soon-to-be compost. I give them a lot of water, first by filling the empty hole, then by watering them upon planting, then in the next week.

Reviewing the Net, I found one site agreeing about my rose planting methods. I got part of the concept when Jackson and Perkins yelled at me. This post claimed that roses can be planted very early bare root, so they get used to their own soil and get established before things really get going in the spring. So - the vast majority write about soaking the bare root roses first, but I think that can be done in the soil rather than in buckets in the garage, kitchen, or basement.

Many complain that roses failed and they received replacements or refunds.. I cannot remember any bare root rose bush or potted bush that has failed on me, and I have dealt with them for a long time in many locations.

Bride's Dream