Roses grow best when they receive full sunshine all day. However, they will grow satisfactorily if they have as least 6 hours of sun a day. If you must plant roses where they will be shaded part of the day and have a choice as to morning sun or afternoon sun, plant them where they will receive morning sun. If plants are shaded in the morning, the leaves remain wet with dew a few hours longer and moisture on leaves favors the development of several leaf diseases.
If you are not sure where to plant your roses, draw a scale map of your yard on a piece of graph paper that shows the location of buildings, walks, driveways, trees, shrubs, existing flower beds, septic tanks, clotheslines, etc. If you are planting roses primarily for their landscape value, they should fit with existing plants and the overall landscape design. If you plan to grow roses for cut flowers only, then they may or may not be a conspicuous part of the landscape plan, so you may want to locate them where they will be easier to care for, perhaps in the backyard.
Plant packaged roses in the North Central region in early spring-April and early May. Some nurseries and garden centers sell roses planted in containers. These can be transplanted at any time from spring to fall, although they will establish better if not planted in mid-summer because of the heat.
Preparing the Soil
Any good garden soil will produce good roses. If you can grow good grass, shrubs and other plants, your soil probably needs no special preparation for roses. If your soil is very heavy, it is light and lacking in fertility, or if subsoil was used to level your lot, you can improve the soil by adding organic matter. Use peat moss, compost, leaf mold or well-rotted manure. Peat moss and leaf mold are easier to obtain and cause fewer problems.
Prepare beds and dig planting holes in advance of planting so you can set out the plants as soon as you receive them. Do not dig holes too far in advance unless you plan to cover them, because the soil may dry out in dry weather. To prepare planting sites, spread a layer of organic matter 2 to 4 inches deep over the bed. Apply a superphosphate at a rate of 3 pounds (7 cups or 1 3/4 quarts) per 100 square feet. Work organic matter and fertilizer spade-depth into soil.
If you are planting only a few roses, prepare individual planting holes for them. Dig each hole 12 to 15 inches deep and at least 18 inches in diameter. If you are planting many roses in one bed, prepare the bed by spading the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Then, dig planting holes in the prepared bed.
If you are digging planting holes in unprepared soil, mix soil from the holes with organic matter and a little superphosphate. Use one part of peat moss, compost or leaf mold to four parts of soil, or one part of well-rotted manure to six parts of soil. Add 3 ounces(7 tablespoons or just under 1/2 cup) of superphosphate to each hole and mix thoroughly with the soil and organic matter.
Setting the Plants
Place a small, cone-shaped pile of soil in the center of each planting hole. Set the plant on the peak of the cone and spread the roots down the slope. Because the plant will sink, make the top of the cone low enough so the bud union is at ground level. Carefully work soil around the roots so that all roots contact soil. Cover roots with soil, add water to help settle soil around the roots, and finish filling the hole.
If you plant roses very early in spring and frosts are expected, mound the soil 8 to 10 inches high around canes of bush and climbing roses, and 3 to 4 inches high around canes of miniature roses. Remove the soil mound when danger of frost has passed and roots are established.
After setting tree roses, drive a sturdy pole into the soil beside the upright trunk and tie the trunk from whipping in the wind and loosening the roots.
Space hybrid teas, grandifloras, polyanthas and floribundas about 2 to 3 feet apart. Space hybrid perpetuals 3 to 5 feet apart and climbers 8 to 10 feet apart. Space miniatures 9 to 12 inches apart.