The Differences Between Bare Root and Container Roses and Their Benefits

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Posted on 04/27/2023

How to Decide Which Form of Rose to Plant: Bare Root or Container?

Have you browsed through your favorite gardening catalog or website looking for the newest roses to plant in your garden and wondered whether it would be best to choose bare root roses or those in nursery pots? Or does it matter? If you’re like most rose gardeners, this question has come up at one point or another. And we want to help you find the answer as to what’s the best for you and your garden.

Bare Root Roses

Bare root roses are an inexpensive and easy option for early-season planting. In fact, late winter is the best time to plant. Bare root roses meet the highest industry standards. They arrive dormant, which makes them ideal for planting. The roots get to acclimate to native soil, as opposed to the packaged soil. And of course, since they aren't in soil when you get them, there’s no mess to contend with.

Bare root roses may look dead, with their brown roots and dormant stem, but plants that arrive this way have the advantage of being able to focus their energies on strong root development rather than having to support an extensive growth of leaves during planting, which is very stressful.

You can plant your bare root roses earlier in the growing season as well, since there aren't any leaves to get nipped back by frost. They can typically be planted as early as six weeks before your area’s last frost date in the spring. Since they don’t have to provide water to leaves or flowers, they usually establish quickly.


Bare Root Rose Benefits

  1. Cost-effective: Bare root roses are usually less expensive compared to container roses because they are sold without the soil and pot.
  2. Wide variety: Nurseries often offer a wider selection of rose varieties in bare root form, allowing you to choose from a broader range of options.
  3. Easier transportation: Bare root roses are lighter and easier to transport since they do not come with soil or a container. This can be particularly beneficial if you're ordering roses online or transporting them a long distance.
  4. Earlier planting: Bare root roses are typically available during the dormant season, which allows you to plant them early in the spring before the growing season begins.
  5. Better root establishment: When planted correctly, bare root roses tend to establish their root systems more quickly and integrate better with the surrounding soil.

The website displays the form in the product details. Here is an example of a bare root rose.

screenshot of bare root rose product page

Container Roses

Container roses should typically be planted in late spring and fall. They’re easy to plant (all you need is a trowel), and they provide instant gratification, as they aren't dormant and will have buds within a few short weeks, if they don’t when they arrive. They’re also perfect for transplanting into decorative containers and make an attractive gift.

Container roses are usually nicely leafed out, and may even have flowers on them, which is a great way for you to know when you purchase them what they’re going to look and smell like. As you can see, there are advantages to both bare root or container roses, so whichever you decide is the best for your garden, we feel certain you’ll become a lifelong rose lover, if you aren't already.


Benefits of Container Roses

  1. Convenience: Container roses are ready to be planted as soon as you bring them home. They come in a pot with soil, which reduces the hassle of preparing the soil or potting mix.
  2. Flexibility: Container roses can be planted at any time during the growing season, provided the ground isn't frozen. This gives you more flexibility in terms of when you can start your rose garden.
  3. Reduced transplant shock: Container roses experience less transplant shock because their root systems are already established within the potting mix. This can result in a higher survival rate and faster growth.
  4. Easy inspection: With container roses, you can easily examine the plant's health and condition by looking at the foliage, flowers, and overall appearance before making a purchase.
  5. Instant impact: Container roses often have more growth and may already be blooming, providing immediate visual impact in your garden.

The website displays the form in the product details. Here is an example of a container rose. In this example the rose comes in a 2-quart container.

screenshot of container rose product page

Ultimately, the choice between bare root and container roses depends on your preferences, the availability of specific rose varieties, and the timing of your planting.