How to plant and grow perfect roses

rose in garden red

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted October 26, 2022

As one of the most popular, romantic, and beautiful flowers, Melissa King explains how to plant the perfect rose and nurture it to full bloom.

In the art of floriography, roses are said to represent love and desire. They’re also pet-friendly plants that are perennial and add a sense of colour, beauty and romance to your garden. 

Melissa King, Horticulturalist and Presenter on Better Homes and Gardens, knows a thing or two about how to grow roses and flower trends. She even developed her own yellow rose dedicated to her late mother at the Victoria State Rose Garden at Werribee Park. 

For those looking to emulate the beauty of the Rose Garden at home, King gives us her tips on how to grow the best rose, from soil preparation to winter pruning, to ensure your roses are in full bloom. 

Heading to the Victoria State Rose Garden? Plan your journey ahead of time with arevo.

child at rose show

The State Rose & Garden Show is fun for all ages. Image: Supplied. 

Your guide to planting roses

If you’re just getting started, or you’re looking to grow fresh roses with a little less maintenance, King suggests "groundcover or landscape roses" like the flower carpet rose, which she says, “come in a beautiful range of colours”. 

She also says to look out for the range of "knock out roses", for low maintenance care, as they are “long flowering” and “disease resistant.”

Deciding what to plant depends on preparation. “Both bare-rooted and potted roses are easy to establish, but bare-rooted roses must be planted straight away, so it’s important to do some soil preparation before you bring the plants home.”

If you’re unlikely to plant immediately, she then recommends you start with a potted rose. 

It is vital that your soil is prepared before growing your bare-root roses, ideally with "plenty of compost and organic matter.”

While bare-rooted roses are “best planted in winter,” she adds that Victoria “has a wonderful selection of roses to choose from year-round”. She suggests container-grown roses, which can be planted in any season if they are regularly watered.  

Whether potted or bare root, “roses enjoy good drainage and at least six hours of sunlight a day,” ensuring they are also well protected from the wind to create “gorgeous, long-lasting blooms.”  

Too much shade is not recommended, as you’ll get lanky growth and few flowers. 


Roses have remained popular for centuries. Image: Supplied.

Roses have remained popular for centuries. Image: Supplied. 

What is the best way to plant roses? 

Planting potted roses

The trick to any planting with roses is to ensure that the soil is well-prepared. 

“Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the roots of the plant [that is] roughly the same depth as the container,” says King.

After this: 

  • Water the plant thoroughly in the pot before removing it. 
  • Place the plant in the hole.
  • Backfill with soil and firm down gently.  
  • Your rose should be planted at about the same depth as it was in the original container.

Planting bare-rooted roses 

When planting roses from the root, King advises that they should never be allowed to completely dry out. Ideally, it’s best to plant immediately, or at least cover with damp soil for a few days until planting. 

To get your roses ready, “prepare the soil as above, then dig a hole and test it for size.” After that, you’ll need to:

  • Make a small pile of composted soil in the middle of the hole.
  • Position the plant at the centre and allow the bare roots to spread out over the mound.
  • Backfill the hole.

Shake the plant gently, or add some water to encourage the soil to settle around the roots. The bud union or graft should be roughly 3cm above the final soil level.

Ensure your plants are well-watered with a good layer of organic mulch that helps to reduce weeds and conserve water.


watering roses

Roses need to be well watered, preferably in the morning. Image: Getty. 

How to care for your planted roses


Like bees to pollen, water is a rose’s best friend. It is imperative that newly-planted roses remain well-watered throughout their first few summers. After this, says King, “they are dry tolerant plants.”

In terms of ‘how’ to water roses, they prefer regular, deep watering, rather than an occasional light sprinkling. It is also best to water roses in the morning rather than night, as wet foliage can attract fungal diseases which can affect the growth of your plant. 


Just like us, roses need sun, water, and food to thrive and survive. When beginning to bloom, add in fertiliser to encourage plant growth with regular composting, like this remedy made from coffee beans to make your roses thrive. 


“The best time to prune your roses is late winter,” says King. It is best not to prune when frosted, as this can damage the roses plant shoots. 

She also encourages a summer prune in “a rounded shape” of roughly a third of growth in order to keep roses well-maintained.  

What are the signs your roses are unhealthy? 

“If you’ve spotted any nasty black spots on your roses, along with unsightly yellowing, it’s likely to be Black Spot, a pesky fungal disease that can also affect the health and vigour of your roses,” says King. 

To avoid this, if you’re growing roses in mixed beds among other flowering plants, ensure they have room to breathe. If other plants are growing in and around your roses, it can block airflow and make them more susceptible to fungal disease. 

It’s also important to follow the steps provided – water in the morning, and regularly, nourish your soil with fertiliser and compost, and remove any black-spot affected leaves so they don’t spread to the rest of the plant. 


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