Rose bushes are available for purchase in three interesting and accommodating ways: from your local nurseries; through the mail; and at special rose events. I recently updated our Rose Sources List and decided to put this information in a separate post. Normaly it would just be basic info but, because of Covid 19 mail ordering roses is probably the most practical option. This post covers the other two options as well, because they all intersect and will hopefully be viable before too long.
MAIL ORDER ROSES AND HOW THEY ARE SHIPPED
Mail ordering roses can be a very exciting process, because the sky is the limit, meaning your choices are much greater. You can also plan the roses you want to purchase well in advance. This lovely package of grafted bare root roses came to me all bundled together in plastic. Bare root roses can be placed in a bucket of water for a few days if you can't plant them right away. Click here for our online Rose Sources List and here for a downloadable pdf.
The plants above are rooted cuttings growing in soil in a pot called a band, which is 5-inches long. You might think they look too small, but these lovelies really take off when planted. I have purchased so many roses this way and how exciting it is to receive the neat little packages with canes all leafed out and growing. They can be delicate, so keep an eye on them. Make sure they don't dry out and you might want to add a rock or two, near the plant for protection from feet or garden tools.
You might like to download a hard copy of the mail order list.
ROSES PURCHASED AT SPECIAL EVENTS
Civic gardens, local rose festivals and auctions are wonderful sources for purchasing roses. The plants are often rare and usually rooted and nurtured by volunteers from various rose groups and societies. The white rose above is an unknown spinosissimas I purchased at The Celebration of Old Roses, an annual event in El Cerrito, CA. And the pink one is Hansa, a hybrid rugosa I found at the Sacramento Heritage Rose Garden at their annual open garden. Northern California has a number of events like this each spring. Check out local rose societies in your area for information about such events. It's a real treat to buy roses this way, because surprises are inevitable and the sellers might have interesting information about the roses. Events like these will undoubtedly be canceled this year, but I hope you're happy to know about this fun way to add to your rose collection.
LOCAL NURSERY AND GARDEN CENTER ROSES
Your first stop for roses is usually at your local nursery or garden center. Because of Covid 19 most nurseries are closed, but I've heard some are offering curbside pick-ups. Rose season always begins with the sale of bare root plants (roses budded to rootstock). The roses are dormant, which means they are not actively growing. In California bare root season is from December to January. On the East coast bare root season begins in April. Some nurseries have fresh plants buried in mounds of sawdust that they pull for you. Others sell bare rooters in plastic sleeves. Take a good look at the canes on the sleeved plants to see that they are strong and well-formed. This isn't the most ideal way to purchase a rose, because the roots have been cut to fit in the package, but I've never had a problem.
As the weather warms, roses are sold in pots usually in the five gallon size. Above is a group of plants I purchased for a client, and here they are waiting for planting day. Early in the season the roots on potted plants might be loose, because they have not been in the pot that long. Be aware of this as you remove for planting, or just leave it in the pot awhile longer until roots grip the soil. You can always count on nurseries having a great selection of roses on Mother's Day. Also it's just fun to hop in the car anytime to see what roses are available.
Wishing you happy rose hunting and collecting – stay safe and enjoy your garden.