Growing Roses in Canada
April 12th by Anthony D'Atri

I am asked on a regular basis by customers as to why their roses won't bloom. Let me start by saying the roses can be one of the most temperamental flowers to grow. So before the growing and blooming season is underway I figured this article would provide me with an ideal opportunity to clear the air about roses and their woes.

Planting Season 

Rose plantings are best done in the spring just as the frost eludes us. Roses like to set their foundation in the cool moist spring soil conditions, rather than in May when the temperature normally becomes hot and dry. On top of that, the longer growing period tends to produce more and better blooms.

Planting Site 

Generally roses do best in full sun but if you're unable to provide them with that type of sunlight, a minimum on 4 to 6 hours of sun will suffice. When looking to plant them, Competition from tree roots and poorly drained areas should also be avoided. In cold climates roses should be planted in the ground; in raised beds or containers above ground level, the plants will be more readily winter-killed.

Type of Soil 

Roses like clay soil, still they may be grown in various type of soil, as long as a good amount of organic matter is worked in. Very heavy soils are best improved by replacing at least half of the soil with sharp-sand or perlite.

Planting Distance

Depending on the species of rose you're planting the range could vary from 24 inches to 5 or 6 feet. Hybrid teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas being about 2 feet and climbers and more vigorous species being 5-6 feet.

Above examples include Hybrid teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas roses in bloom.


To prevent the finer roots from drying out, it's advisable to have the plants in a bucket of water while planting. The hole should be dug wide and deep enough so that the roots may spread out freely. The plant is then help in the up-right position with the crown at an inch below the surface. Fine soil (as stated in the planting distance paragraph) should be used as backfill. After backfilling, stomp the soil down with your feet, fill the hole up with water and then when it drains, backfill the hole back up to ground level. If you were late on the planting, consider mounding the plant to prevent root damage on hot days.


Only "plant starter" formulas should be used in the beginning of a rose's growth cycle. Once the roses are established and growing well, commercial fertilizers may be spread on the surface; then raked or hoed and followed up with a soaking if the ground is dry. Potash and superphosphate can be applied in late summer, to help late growth harden off before the freezing season arrives.


Even though roses are fans of good drainage, they do need a lot of water during the growing season. During prolonged dry spells they should be thoroughly soaked once or twice a week depending on the moisture holding capacity of the soil. It's best to water roses in the late afternoon or early morning. In such a case you have sprayed or dusted the plants, water should be applied to the soil around the plant.

Pruning Mature Roses

In our northern climate, Hybrid teas, Glandifloras and Floribundas should be pruned back in early spring to precisely 4 to 6 inches above ground level. 3 or 4 of the strongest branches should only remain and be left to develop.

I'm confident this article has all the requirements and prerequisites to getting your roses off the ground (or better yet, out of the ground) and wish you the best of luck in the upcoming rose season.