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Planting roses

The First Jewels, a sculpture in the heart of the Rose Garden
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)
The First Jewels, a sculpture in the heart of the Rose Garden.

Before planting roses

Preparing the soil

  • Mark off the planting area with stakes and string (straight lines) or a garden hose (curves).
  • Remove the sod and turn the soil over to a depth of 45-60 cm.
  • Prepare and improve the soil 2 or 3 weeks before planting your roses.

Improving the soil

No matter what type of soil you have, adding well-rotted manure or compost will improve its structure. Such amendments improve water and nutrient retention in sandy soil and promote drainage in clay soil.


Remove any damaged canes and cut any broken roots back to healthy tissue. Trim back canes to promote the formation of sturdy new canes. The amount of trimming required at planting varies depending on rose type:

  • Bush roses (hybrid teas, floribundas, etc.): keep 3 to 5 strong canes arranged symmetrically around the graft union and trim them back so that there are no more than 4 bud eyes on each cane.
  • Shrub roses (species roses, rugosa hybrids, etc.): trim canes back to 40 to 50 cm above the ground.

Roses in bags or with bare roots: plant immediately or place in a moist, shaded soil trench.

Roses in containers: remove the container, taking care not to damage the rootball. Place in a hole about twice as deep and wide as the rootball. If the roots are potbound, make 3 or 4 vertical slashes around the rootball to loosen them.

Planting roses

  • Dig a hole wide enough so that you can spread the roots and deep enough so that the graft union is below the surface: 5 cm in zones 5, 8 cm in zone 4 and 10-15 cm in zones 2 and 3.
  • Fill in the hole, form a reservoir to hold water around the bush and water thoroughly.
  • Leave adequate space between plants. Miniature roses: 30 cm; hybrid teas and floribundas: 60 cm; shrub roses: 1 to 2 m, depending on size at maturity.

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