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Easy Roses to Plant and Care for in New England

Easy Roses to Plant and Care for in New England
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Rosa Rugosas thrive in New England's unpredictable climate.

Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch
Rosa Rugosas thrive in New England’s unpredictable climate.

Growing roses in New England can be tricky due to the varied and often unpredictable weather that this region is known for. Roses that are strong and planted properly, however, can be surprisingly low maintenance once they are established. I’ll share three great roses to plant which are hardy enough to survive — and even thrive — in New England’s sometimes harsh climate. I’ll also give simple instructions for getting these bushes off to a healthy start for many years of future enjoyment to come.

Rosa Rugosa
Also known as beach roses, these fast growing bushes that spread quickly and are covered with continuously blooming pink or white flowers. They thrive in almost all soil types—from sandy beaches to road side fences. Once planted these roses require very little attention.

Climbing Roses
A trellis hanging heavy with fragrant roses is a breathtaking and romantic sight, and one that has been seen in new England gardens for centuries. There are dozens of climbing roses to choose from. Consult your local nursery for available proven winner options.

Tea Roses
Originally hybrids from China, these roses have evolved and have been successfully cultivated in North Eastern gardens for many years, though they may require special framed protection in the winter. They are larger than most climbing roses and are very fragrant. Traditionally found in shades of pink and yellow they are also available in white and red.

rose trellis

Photo/Art by Shelley Wigglesworth
a trellis hanging heavy with fragrant roses is a breathtaking and romantic sight.

Instructions to Plant Roses

  • Tools and supplies to Plant a Rose Bush
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Hose or watering can
  • Spade
  • Rose bush
  • Bone meal
  • Aged cow manure
  • Peat
  • Clean soil
  • Mulch

Recipe to add to the ground soil for healthy roses: Mix together equal amounts (approximately 1/2 cup of each for a medium to large size bush-less for smaller plantings) of peat, composted cow manure, bone meal and clean soil.

How to Plant Roses

  1. Prepare ahead of time a mixture of equal amounts (approximately 1/2 cup of each for a medium to large size bush-less for smaller plantings) of peat, composted cow manure, bone meal and clean soil.
  2. Choose a sunny location and dig a hole that is double the width and depth of the root ball.
  3. Gently remove the rose plant from the container and loosen the root ball.
  4. Place the rose plant in the hole so the entire root ball is evenly standing under ground. The top of the root ball should be flush to the top of the ground.
  5. Sprinkle the mixture of bone meal, soil, manure and peat into the hole around the shrub and fill the remaining space with clean, rich soil. Cover the top of the root ball with approximately 2 inches of soil, being careful to ensure that the stem or stalk of the plant is not covered with dirt.
  6. Spread a few inches of mulch around the plant and water thoroughly every few days.
  7. To increase and encourage new rose bud growth, snip off weak, faded and past peak blooms as they appear.
  8. In the fall be sure to mulch deeply and wrap fragile shrubs in burlap or cover with a wooden pitched box to protect from heavy snow and ice-unless of course it is a Rosa Rugosa— commonly known as the beach rose. These bushes are hardy and can survive just about anything.

If you’re looking for roses to plant in your zone, you can’t go wrong with these three varieties. Try it out and let me know how it goes.

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Wigglesworth


Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges
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3 Responses to Easy Roses to Plant and Care for in New England

  1. Martha Thompson May 29, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    My daughter took some climbing roses from her grandma’s yard on Cape Cod and planted them
    along her wall in Plano, Texas. They are especially beautiful falling into her pool area in full bloom this June of 2013.

    • Shelley Wigglesworth December 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      Thanks for sharing Martha-if you are able to post a photo next season that would be great!

  2. Angelina Chute August 27, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    There are so many roses that are easy to grow in New England and planting correctly is so important as you suggest. One tip I would like to add is when planting a grafted rose in New England, make sure the bud union is below soil level. How far below depends on the hardiness zone you are in. Here in Rhode Island we plant the bud union 2 inches below soil level. In colder areas plant deeper.

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