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Fall Planting. Is It Right For Roses?

Roses ready for fall planting in my rose garden.

We’ve talked in the past about conventional wisdom that some rose chores have to be done during a certain “time”.  The most obvious one being “pruning time” as the only time you can actually trim your roses.

Let’s take on another one.  “Planting Time”.

Generally this is always considered to be early spring.  I can see why this came about, because for many years the general way to purchase roses was bareroot.  They always hit the garden centers in the early spring because that was harvest time for the nurseries growing them.  Makes perfect sense that spring became rose planting time.  But this is changing.


Simply put roses are more and more available in containers all year around; particularly if you order via mail order.  Nowadays they almost all come in containers of various sizes.  We’ll talk more about mail order and dealing with them in another post, but let me just say mail order is a great way to find really neat roses.

Now that we have an idea of why roses are traditionally planted in the spring we of course come to the question, “do they have to be planted only the spring”?

Simply put: No.

Roses, like any plant (sense a theme here!), can be planted at any time during the season.  And that brings us to the idea of fall planting.  Personally I think fall is a terrific time to plant roses.  The exception may be if you live well up north where bitter winters come on quick and early, but for most of us it’s a good time.  Here in our zone 7/6 foothills of the Blue Ridge I start planting in late August when the nights turn cooler.  We really don’t really get cold until well into November and usually get an Indian Summer in October.

When I plant I don’t use any fertilizers other than those that push root growth because I do not want to push top growth.  I want my newly planted roses to get their roots well established before they shut down for winter.  Then, come spring, they are ready to explode with new top growth and have the advantage of well established root system capable of handling the new canes and blooms.

As we are all coming into late summer/early fall consider planting roses now.  And shop around.  A lot of Garden Centers put their roses on sale this time of year because they think rose “planting time” is over.  Don’t tell them anything different!