When we were looking for the rose ‘Fighting Temeraire’, none of our local nurseries carried it. The only place we could find this 2013 David Austin new introduction was at the David Austin Roses facility in the United States in Tyler, Texas. Mike ordered 2 of these fragrant, apricot climbers over the phone
and even received a 10% discount with our American Rose Society membership! (Mike is old-school and likes to talk to the people he’s buying from.) The bareroot roses arrived last week and we can’t wait to get them planted.
Rose bushes are harvested as dormant plants in late November in vast fields in Texas, Arizona, and California where they have been growing for almost two seasons. The soil has been shaken from the roots – hence the term “bare root” – and the foliage mechanically removed. They are graded, labeled and tied in bundles of five or ten and stored in large climate-controlled warehouses until the following spring when they are distributed throughout the United States for retail sales.
Bareroot roses are much lighter than potted roses, thus saving weight and shipping costs, and this is how most mail order roses are sold. While local nurseries, including those specializing in roses, stock new introductions each season as well as some tried-and-true old favorites, it’s not possible for them to stock every variety. However, buying bareroot roses from reputable online and catalogue sources almost anywhere in the United States and Canada is an ideal way to procure unusual varieties that aren’t available locally as well as varieties that are rare and hard-to-find.
Since most casual rose gardeners are accustomed to buying potted roses at their local nursery, the idea of receiving a bareroot rose, naked of soil, may be a little daunting. Just remember, though, that all potted roses arrive at the garden center as bareroot roses and are potted up locally for sale throughout the season.
If you decide to order bareroot roses by mail order it’s best to buy them from a reputable vendor. The rose should be a graded as a #1 rose and it that should be stated either in the catalog or on the web site that this is the grade that you are getting. A #1 rose is a rose with 3 or more canes about the size of my thumb with a well developed root system.
Bareroot roses are shipped to arrive when you’re able to plant them within a week or so. Since it’s been colder than usual here in Rhode Island, Mike requested David Austin Roses ship on the first week of April which is another reason he ordered over the phone. Timing becomes important and most mail order plants are shipped on a Monday so they are delivered before the following weekend eliminating the possibility of them being stuck in a below-freezing trailer or warehouse over the weekend. The plants are hydrated prior to shipping and will be wrapped in plastic bags or the roots may be covered with wet peat to keep them fresh. Finally, they’re packed in sturdy cardboard boxes and sent on their way.
When they arrive on your doorstep they should be unpacked as soon as possible then placed in a large bucket of water for 24 hours in order to rehydrate the plant. If you leave them soaking longer than 24 hours, that’s okay, too. When we get busy we’ve been known to let them soak up to week before planting them and we haven’t lost a bare root rose yet.
Once the roots have been rehydrated, you’re ready to plant the rose either in the ground or in a large pot that will accommodate the size of the rose and its roots for at least one season. If you’d like to know the steps for planting a bare root rose go to our web site, www.rosesolutions.net and read Mike’s article “How to Plant Roses.”
We are anxious to see “Fighting Temeraire” bloom in our garden this summer. We hope it lives up to its namesake, the iconic Joseph Turner painting hanging in London’s National Gallery. Hmmm, this could be another reason to go back to the UK next year.
Meanwhile, Mike has a spot already picked out for one ‘Fighting Temeraire’ and will plant the other one in a large container. We’ll post pictures when they bloom.