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Roses - Planting

( Originally Published 1914 )

LET us suppose that the beds are ready, the shipment has been ordered, and on one eventful morning it has arrived. You naturally take great pains to unpack carefully and to see that the varieties received check off properly with the order given. Sometimes one or more mistakes may be made in a large shipment, but as a usual thing great care has been exercised both in the selection and packing of the order, and it should arrive in good shape and the varieties should be as ordered. Very often the nurseryman will add a plant or two for good measure. The plants should be unpacked inside some building, unless perfect weather conditions prevail, viz., a clamp, moist clay—neither cold nor hot. After having been checked off, the plants should be carefully covered so that the roots will neither be frozen nor dried out by too much wind or heat. Usually the roses come packed in moss which should be left on them. If there is no moss, cover the roots with damp earth, and when taken outside keep them protected with any kind of wrap-ping, such as burlap or gunny sacks; or, better still, keep them in buckets or tubs of water, except in freezing weather, when you should not plant. This is most important so that the roots may be placed in the ground in proper condition. Before taking the roses to their beds a small plan should be made of just how they are to be planted; if for a formal or landscape effect this has no doubt been all arranged beforehand. If, however, they are to be grown in the ordinary form of bed it is a very simple matter to have the bed arranged for their reception.

Knowing what roses are coming, and the distance apart in which they should be planted (covered in the lists), decide on the order in which they should be placed; planting alphabetically is the easiest way of telling where any particular rose is located.

The bed should be three and a half feet wide for the best Hybrid Teas and Teas; for Hybrid Perpetuals and the very strongest growers four feet is better; while for smaller growing roses a three-foot bed is sufficient. For all beds plant the roses ten inches from the edge and the proper distance apart. There should be two rows of plants, each row ten inches from the side of the bed. With one row plant the first rose ten inches from the end of the bed; with the other row plant the first rose twenty inches from the same end of the bed. This does not bring the plants opposite one another and gives them a trifle more room in which to grow, making them nearly the same distance apart each way. These beds as given are the most convenient and economical and give fine results. The most perfect results are obtained with a single row of plants in an eighteen-inch bed, but the difference is so slight that except where room is of no moment this is not advocated. When it is desired to form masses of color by planting blocks of roses in specially shaped beds, a trifle more room should be given to the inside plants because they will not receive the same amount of ventilation which they do in the beds as advocated.

For our own beds a drawing is made, as indicated by sketch below, which is found very easy to correct from time to time if a rose dies or is taken out for any reason and another substituted. Suppose, for example, it is decided to put in four roses each of the following: Antoine Rivoire, Duchess of Wellington, General MacArthur, Killarney, and two each of Souv. du President Carnot and Joseph Hill.

Make a compass drawing as outlined so that there may be no question as to the position of the bed.

This plan is suggested because labels are a delusion and a snare, do not last, and also become misplaced, so that while labels are kept in the beds we depend upon the written plan for positive information as to what each rose is, its location, etc.* It is but the matter of a few moments to make this record and the time so occupied will be well worth while.

Having run two lines ten inches from each side of the bed, and from one end to the other, space off the proper point at which each rose is to be planted by a stake, which can be measured with ordinary rule or line. Before starting work put on a pair of gloves to protect the hands from thorns. Bring out but a few roses at a time, and, in order to avoid any possible mixing of the plants, each variety should be kept absolutely separate and planted at one time before the next kind is placed in the bed.

Sometimes rose roots are injured in the shipment, in which case it will be necessary to cut off the broken ends. A good pair of pruning shears and a sharp knife are the two best implements for this work. Cuts should be sharp and clean and the roots should be cut off above the break. It will take only a minute to examine each plant before it is actually set and to cut off broken roots and any suckers in which growth may have started. (For further information on suckers, see page 20.)

The thing to be most carefully considered, and most important in planting roses, is to dig a hole about eighteen inches deep, the center of which is approximately the center of the mark for the rose. The earth should be taken out with a spade from this hole, and before finally replacing it, two things should be carefully noted—that the roots spread out at the bottom and do not cross one another. The more the roots are spread out, the more sustenance the plant will get, and the more room there will be for the little fibrous roots. It is particularly difficult to spread out the roots of pot-grown plants. The other important point is that the bud, i.e., the point at which the variety has been budded to the stock, which may be easily noted, should be at a given distance below the ground level. On these two factors depends the size of the excavation. The bud should be not less than two inches and not more than three inches below the finished level of the bed, except with roses budded on Multiflora, which should be one and a half inches. This seems like getting down to very exact planting, but if the bud is higher it is not sufficiently protected in winter, and the rose does not do as well if it is planted lower.

The hole being properly dug, place the rose in it, carefully spreading out the roots so that they do not cross or touch one another at any point. This will take some time and care, but it is of the greatest importance to the future growth of the rose that it be properly done. Two persons can do the work much better than one. In planting always have a small bucket containing top soil and bone meal finely powdered in equal parts to sprinkle at the bottom of the hole and also on the roots; this is very helpful to their growth, because it precludes the possibility of any manure touching the roots (manure which, if too fresh and not well-rotted, will burn them) and promotes the growth of the very much to be desired fibrous feeding roots. After this preparation is put in, the helper adds the soil carefully, a little at a time, to fill up the hole. As he puts it in, tamp it firmly with a stick, and, as the hole gradually fills, take particular care that there is no space left just underneath the main root of the plant, for air space is most detrimental to the growth of the rose. Having filled up the hole to the ground level of the bed, consider the rose to be planted, and proceed to the next. When the first hole is dug, remove the earth and put it beyond the stake for the last hole, then use the earth from the second hole to fill around the first plant, and so on; this saves much work and insures keeping the entire bed the same level.

An easy way to get an almost exact depth below the ground for the bud is to have a lath, or other straight piece of wood, in the center of which a measure is nailed. This operation is very simple, if the main points, as enumerated above, are carefully carried out.

These rules are so important for the future success of the plants that they are repeated:

First, unpack indoors unless weather conditions are absolutely perfect.

Second, keep the roots well covered, preferably with moss if they have been packed in it, otherwise with damp earth, or coverings, or water.

Third, have a bucket containing a mixture of equal parts of top soil and bone meal to place around the roots.

Fourth, take plenty of time in digging the hole to get it large enough and wide enough at the bottom to spread the roots properly.

Fifth, do not let the roots cross one another.

Sixth, plant carefully and slowly, tamping down the earth with a stick, making sure by gently raising and lowering as the earth is filled in that no air space remains below the main part of the root.

Seventh, for Briar, Manetti and Rugosa, do not place the bud more than three inches or less than two inches from the finished surface of the bed. For Multiflora, plant one and a half inches below ground. For own-root, plant just below former level.

If it is impossible to finish planting in any one day take particular care of the remaining roses. Keep them heeled in damp earth, or if the season is so late that this cannot be done, keep them well-covered indoors with soil. It is very easy to cover the finished beds with a heavy litter of manure and straw to keep the frost from them. If a quantity of soil is mixed and kept indoors ready for use, holes can be dug and the plants set in this soil as has been suggested in "Location and Preparation." This method has been used successfully in the very late autumn and at the end of the winter. If planting in the late autumn, it is well to protect the plants as much as possible. The best way to do this is to add a few wheelbarrow loads of soil to the beds after planting and make little mounds around each plant, hilling them up and then covering with litter. If this is done the coarse litter should be removed in the early spring and the fine manure remaining should be forked carefully into the bed, as this will be a good fertilizer during the summer. In autumn planting it will generally be found that rose plants have been cut back to about a foot from the ground, and if this is the case leave them as they are. If, however, they have the long, full growth they had when taken up or a large part of it, cut back to a foot and a half.

Hybrid Teas and Teas budded on Multiflora need more room than when budded on Briar or Manetti. In the lists extra room is allowed for such plants.

In moving roses it is best to take the earth with them as much as possible. In the case of a small plant a successful method is to take the bottom out of a galvanized iron bucket, and after thoroughly watering the ground around the plant, place the bucket over the same, forcing it into the ground until the top is even with the ground level. Then by moving from side to side and aiding with a digging fork underneath the bucket, the plant and dampened earth will come out with the bucket, and may be moved to its new location. In the case of a larger plant where this system is not practicable, it is necessary to dig out around the plant, using digging forks to take up the plant without cutting the roots. The earth may be kept in a ball by the use of canvas or burlap. It is well to thoroughly water the plant after moving, and some authorities advise filling the hole with water before planting.

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