Roses Are Plants Too!

Fall Planting. Is It Right For Roses?

Roses ready for fall planting in my garden.
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses
Roses ready for fall planting in my garden.
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses

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!

Happy Roseing.

View Comments


  1. naturalist 08/22/2011

    I planted twenty knockout roses two years ago in October
    and they thrived beautifully. I find fall is the best planting time.

  2. PFZimmerman 08/25/2011


  3. F10W3RS4Me 09/19/2011

    Thanks Paul, your information is invaluable. Especially to someone like myself that has been a gardener for a long time but had always thought of roses as being too needy! But after coming up to see you I have changed my mind. I have seven roses now and so far they're doing great. Again, thanks for all that you do, you've helped so many with your passion for roses.

  4. Zanadu 09/19/2011

    Paul, you're right on the mark... I've planted all kinds of shrubs and trees in every season except high summer (in Texas). In that really hot season, even established plants have a hard time drawing up enough moisture to offset transpiration. Here in San Francisco, there isn't any time I can't plant. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. FrozenRoses 01/18/2012

    I live in zone 3. I grow many zone 4 roses but I would only dare to plant a potted rose in the fall. Anything with a less developed root system would simply not have time to set sufficent roots to survive the winter.

  6. Goffini 09/15/2012

    I received mail ordered Kiftsgate and Madame Alfred Carriere in Spring 2012 and planted them in pots for the summer to give them a good start. Now I have planted them in their permanent locations in the ground (zone 6) and am concerned that this fall transplanting will put them at a disadvantage. I also have 4 more climbers coming in spring 2013. Is it best to put them in the ground or get the roots established in a pot first? I have gardened for years but am embarking on rose growing for the first time. There are a lot of roots from other plants and trees in the ground and I felt these may pose a problem for the young roses.

  7. PFZimmerman 09/20/2012

    Hi Goffini,

    Nice choice of roses. First off, fall planting is great for roses so you are safe there. You might pile some loose mulch around them as winter sets in but they should make it just fine. A few questions.

    Were these own-root roses or budded?
    What size where they when they arrived?

  8. user-7007172 08/29/2014

    Interesting read. I've always been told to plant in the fall so the rose can develop a strong sturdy root system (but growth is virtually non-existent until it warms up) and that planting roses in spring will result in faster growth and budding but will result in smaller weaker roots which can lead to more problems in the long term like root rot.

  9. user-6536305 09/10/2017

    I would like to relocate a rose now. Do I need to prune it or leave it as it is? What do I do with the soil if I plant it where rose has grown before? I normally replace as much soil as possible. I read an article about using Mycorrhizal Fungi from your post before but Mycorrhizal Fungi is really hard to get especially in small quantities. Also, I would like to know if it has an expire date? Thanks!

  10. meetathakur 11/06/2017

    could you please suggest the best companion plants for rose bed.Thanks!

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