First Rose Delivery of 2012 – ‘R.K. Witherspoon’ – Hybrid Tea

It felt like Christmas all over again when I arrived at home yesterday. A large box was sitting on my doorstep.  It was the first rose delivery of 2012. A rose from Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham, NC.  The rose is ‘R.K. Witherspoon’, a creamy white hybrid tea. Having been notified by email that the rose was to arrive this week, I had already filled a new 10 gallon container of my soil mix, I was ready for its arrival.

I am very careful who I order roses from. I read up on a company prior to ordering. Not only from their website, but also the message boards, Facebook & Twitter postings and word of mouth from my fellow rose growing friends. It matters to me that they company selling me roses actually cares about the roses they are packaging and sending to me. I had only heard good things about Witherspoon Rose Culture.

The key to shipping bare root roses is keeping them moist in shipment so the roots do not dry out. I could immediately tell that this rose was packed with great care. Notice the wrapping of the entire rose.

When I removed the outer covering to reveal 5 beautiful canes and a carefully wrapped root system.

I unwrapped the root covering to reveal a root system covered in moist moss. This kept the roots moist in transit and the outer coverings held the moisture in.

When I removed the moss, it revealed the root system of the rose. Notice that this is a “grafted” rose. The rose has been grafted onto rootstock and has formed the ball or “bud union” from which the canes have emerged from.

Notice the larger roots are what I call the “foundation” roots” and the tiny fibrous roots are the “feeder” roots. The smaller roots actually take in nutrients that the rose needs to survive, and the larger provide anchoring and support of the upper structure of the rose. The absence of either of these root systems spells death to a rose. Notice how large the root system is and will be below the soil? This is one healthy rose!

As I do with all roses planted in my garden, I soaked the root system overnight in Haven Brand Soil Conditioner. This provides further hydration for the rose before planting.

A rose of this caliber requires a container large enough to grow in. I have six of these 8 gallon containers for new roses this year.

Now planted, let the growing begin!

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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8 Responses to First Rose Delivery of 2012 – ‘R.K. Witherspoon’ – Hybrid Tea

  1. roseman7stan says:

    Fine article and photos to go with it Chris. That is one fine looking bare root rose too! Making me wish it was that time here too. Itching to get back out with the roses!


    • Spring can’t some fast enough around here. I am always anxious to get back in the garden.

      Last year we had a very early Spring. Was good and bad. Most of my roses peaked two weeks before our Rose Show held on Mother’s Day weekend.


      • roseman7stan says:

        I hate it when that happens. I have been in that boat too with rose shows. Ours this year is on June 30th. Our local society is hosting the Rocky Mountain District of ARS show. I am doing classification. That always keeps me busy!


  2. Lona says:

    Only a gardener can get excited about cardboard. LOL! How lucky you are to be starting on new roses already. I have to wait a while yet ;( I like to get bare root roses too. Just never get them where they are coated with paraffin first. Mine were a disaster. I will be anxious to see your Champagne White roses this summer.


    • I was like a kid in the candy store….. I know what you mean about the paraffin wax. Every time I see those in stores, I just want to approach the manager and tell them they should remove these from the shelves. I hate that people who are in the rose growing business allow for that to happen…


  3. love the rose selection you have growing on Authentic Haven Brand is honored to be a part of that Naturally


  4. We’re so very excited about this rose for you. Many thanks for such a delightful account, and great photos, too!


  5. I have a RK Witherspoon rose in my garden and it is one of my favorites! I’m fortunate to live near Witherspoon’s store in the Charlotte area and got mine two summers ago.


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