How to plant bareroot roses

Tiffany Daneff / 17 March 2014

Winter has turned to spring so quickly I have had to get my skates on and order in some bareroot roses to plant in the new south-facing border. These are the last plants to go in.

Originally I had planned on getting six R. Sharifa Asma, a beautiful softly pink rose with a wonderful scent and a name that made me think of an exotic belly dancer. Don’t ask why.  

But when I rang David Austin Roses for advice they recommended another, more disease-resistant variety which looks very similar and also smells strongly. (What’s the point of a rose if it doesn’t make you want to stick your nose inside the flower and inhale deeply?)  “Fine,” I said. “And what’s it called?” 

I don’t know who named it but 'Gentle Hermione' just doesn’t do it for me. Yes, Hermione was Leontes’ wife but so what?  Instead of a gently gyrating, glittery belly dancer I have ended up with some pale and not very interesting wimp sitting in the corner being all sad and pathetic.

Anyway... when the bag containing the drippy old girls arrived I have to say I almost ate my words. Those six plants were the finest, sturdiest looking specimens. I don’t know whether all David Austin bareroot roses are this good but I could not fault them. The shoots were strong and even, the roots likewise and they looked so fresh, as though they had only been in the post a few hours. They filled me with confidence. 

The instructions were brilliant: clear and with good diagrams so the whole procedure was a pleasure.  The only tricky thing was digging down 18 inches.  If I had been clever I should have dug the hole when the border was dug, or at least at the same time as the  bulbs and perennials went in.  Never mind.  

How to plant a bareroot rose

  • Soak the plants in water for several hours (roots and shoots)
  • Dig a hole 18 inches deep and wide enough to take the roots.  (And 18 inches apart)
  • Mix in some well-rotted manure or compost
  • Sprinkle a handful of Micorrhizal fungi (to help establish the plants) over the roots while holding them over the hole.
  • Arrange the plant so that the bud union is 3 inches below the ground level.
  • Fill in the whole with the excavated soil and firm well.
  • Water really well – 2 gallons a plant.

They may only be green stems but I cannot tell you how happy they make me.  There are three plants arranged in a triangle on either side of the front door so that every time someone walks outside they will be wafted with a scent of old fashioned roses and a hint of myrrh.  (So I will get a hint of exotic Middle East after all.)

PS Here’s the official description and a link to the site:

  • Gentle Hermione (Ausrumba) David Austin Recommended Variety
  • Category:  English Roses (English Rose Collection)
  • Bred By:  David Austin
  • Flower Type:  Double/Full Bloom
  • Size:  Medium Shrub
  • Hardiness:  Very hardy
  • Fragrance:  Strong
  • Repeating:  Excellent

This variety bears some of the most perfectly formed flowers of true Old Rose character. Starting as attractive, nicely rounded buds, the flowers gradually open to shallow cups with all their petals perfectly arranged. Their colour is pure pink with soft blush on the outside and a lovely pure pink at the centre; the whole effect being totally charming. ‘Gentle Hermione’ will form an attractive, rounded shrub of medium height with slightly arching stems. It has excellent health and the petals are particularly resistant to rain It has a strong, warm, classic Old Rose scent with a hint of myrrh. Hermione was the faithful wife of Leontes, the King of Sicilia and mother of Perdita in Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’.

New: win a Gentle Hermione rose of your own, courtesy of David Austin. Enter our prize draw.

Tiffany Daneff is also the editor of the award-winning intoGardens app - the world's first magazine app for gardens. Visit the appstore to download a free sample or go to the website for more information.  Gardening has never looked better or been more exciting. Visit  for more info.

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