Before You Buy Roses


With a multitude of catalogs filling up mail boxes everywhere, I am tempted to go crazy ordering roses.

I must remind myself of a few basic things to consider before ordering:

  • Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a rose. Large blooms on single stems? Lots of color and a multitude of blooms? Easy care? No Spray? Doing your homework before you buy will save you some aggravation and disappointment.
  • Do I have a sunny well draining spot to plant your rose? Six hours of full sun is good for most roses. 
  • I love the catalogs and mail order rose providers, but I often find there descriptions of colors, size and vigor are often incorrect. If you like a rose, ask a rosarian about the rose. (find a local rosarian Google the name of the rose and search for gardener reviews from real people who are growing the rose. I wouldn’t be without my American Rose Society Guide For Selecting Roses. This guide is published annually based on ratings as reported from those who are growing that particular variety. I steer clear of roses that rank below 7.5.
  • Don’t walk, RUN from “bagged” roses. They are sprayed with paraffin wax and almost always are poor performers.
  • Always select roses bare root or potted with at LEAST 3 good canes and a well-developed root system. Anything less will typically yield less than desirable results.


Experience has taught me that just a little advance planning will go a long way in selecting just the right rose for your garden.


About Chris VanCleave - America's Favorite Rose Gardener

Christopher R. VanCleave – America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed "The Redneck Rosarian”, Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. He is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President. In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at and on his popular website;, where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening. An agent of change with over 20 years’ experience in process innovation, Mr. VanCleave is leading the charge to reinvigorate horticultural societies and helping them to reach their full potential in the social media age.
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17 Responses to Before You Buy Roses

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Plan accordingly and do a little research and you will be rewarded with roses galore, unless the deer discover them first (welcome to my world). Happy New Year Chris, for drizzly Pacific NW!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gaga says:

    Hi Chris,
    This is the basis for being happy with your garden. I always take the ARS Handbook/Guide for Selecting Roses to see how the prospective new rose purchase is rated.. This little guide which is free to ARS members each year is always spot on and available at the ARS site.
    Thank you for the great work you do in assisting budding rosarians everywhere.


  3. Holleygarden says:

    Great advice! Whenever possible, I also like to visit other gardens so I can see roses in person. One little bloom picture doesn’t give the whole story. Plus, it gives me an idea of the size of the mature rose, which can vary widely!


  4. Lona says:

    Great advice Chris. Rose dipped in paraffin were a complete failure in my garden. I ordered three one year from an online nursery and none of them even sprouted or lived. Needless to say I got a refund for them. When I talked to them they said they had had problems with them and was reconsidering using it to coat the rose bushes.


    • Lona, glad to hear they replaced your roses. The application of the wax is rarely done in such a way that it will actually not suffocate the cane. By the time it reaches us in stores, the damage is done…. Glad you had a good outcome… 🙂


  5. Greggo says:

    thanks Chris. Gotta quit buying those bagged rose in July at Kmart. lol.


  6. Christina says:

    You listed some very valid points to consider before choosing a rose! I also find it really helpful to read the description of and comments about it on HMF before I order a specific rose. They seem to be more objective than the advertisement of a breeder or a rose selling company. On HMF they also have usually many photos of the rose, often not only of the flower, but also of the bush, so you get a better impression how it “really” looks.


  7. Great post. I have also had poor results with bagged roses. Our customers appreciate drip irrigation for their roses to keep the water off the foliage and blooms and get the water down to the root system where it’s needed. I use Rain Bird Drip Irrigation on my roses at home too. Works great! My wife prefers it, because the rotors and sprays can knock the blooms too hard. Thank you.


  8. Lynn Hunt says:

    Chris, you have give all of us a lot to think about. Those catalogues can make the worst rose sound like a treasure. I like to talk with other rose lovers and see how certain varieties perform in their gardens. My space is limited and I can afford a rose that is stingy with blooms!


  9. John Byrd says:

    I bought bare root roses from a very reputable dealer this spring. I have never been more disappointed. From now on I will lay eyes on the plant before spending my hard earned cash.
    I am fortunate to be near Tyler Texas and there are a ton of good nurseries there.
    I am very excited about some David Austin roses purchased late summer!


  10. franciscocamacho2016 says:

    Wonderful rose, wonderful color.! 🍁

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ellen brown says:

    Great article. Like other commenter, I ordered 2 bareroots plants From well respected nursery and very disappointed. I’ll probably be pulling them up soon. No more on-line ordering for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: FRIDAY FINDS – The Impatient Gardener

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