Roses Sweating Bareroots Garden Guide

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Why Sweating?

Firstly, following all prep and planting instructions is critical for bareroot rose establishment.

  • However, even if proper root soaking and planting steps were closely followed, some bareroot roses may still be stubborn about breaking dormancy. This is not unusual, but it is random and unpredictable. Bareroot roses are like kids, some wake up more easily and quickly than others. It is just in their nature to act differently.
  • This can happen to any rose at any time in any given garden situation. It can happen to one rose of two of exactly the same variety, planted on the same day 2 feet apart. One breaks buds, one may not. It's normal.
  • If this happens to your rose or some of your roses, don't panic.

Understanding Bareroot Roses

In order to become established, bareroot roses must first grow new roots.

  • The roots they arrive with are primarily for anchorage and have a bit of stored energy capacity.
  • To form buds and new shoots, roots must grow first, which takes a great deal of energy.
  • The ideal daytime high temperatures for establishing bareroot roses are 40° to 70°F.
  • Below or above these temperatures and roses can struggle, especially with a lack of attention.

In optimal conditions, growing new roots takes a rose about 6-8 weeks from planting.

When to use Sweating

After about 8 weeks, if no bud swelling or new shoots are noticeable, then follow these steps:

  1. With sterilized pruners, cut all the canes back by 1/2 their length, even if proper initial pruning was done. Cut at a slight angle, 1/4 inch above a visible bud.
  2. Increase the volume & frequency of water being applied. (Regular watering for roses is 1 inch of water per week, per plant which equates to about 3.5 gallons every 2-3 days. Do not rely solely on rain.)
  3. Wait another 7-10 days, monitoring closely for swelling buds or new shoots.

If no signs of growth are noticeable after this pruning and increased water, then follow sweating instructions below.

Sweating Instructions

Sweating, when done properly, is the most effective process for overcoming dormancy resistance of bareroot roses. The sweating process is to simply cover all the canes with a clear plastic bag and tie it around the base to create a "greenhouse" effect which increases heat and humidity for the plant.

  • Secure the bag around the base of the rose, ensuring that none of the canes or thorns puncture the bag. (If the bag gets punctured or torn, start over with a new bag!)
  • TIP: You can use twine, but a zip-tie works very well for this process.

  • The bag should be secured around the base, but not too tight to constrict or cut into the bark.
  • Condensation and heat should build up inside the bag. This is needed and how it works.
  • Make sure during this sweating process to water the rose consistently every day to every other day as directed. If the soil dries out too much, so too will the rose and it will for sure fail.
  • Important: Leave the bag in place until the rose grows new shoots to at least 1/2 inch long.

  • The success and duration of sweating will depend on daytime temps, sunlight, available moisture, and the individual plant. Sweating can take as little as a week, but it can take a month or more. Be patient. Nature works at its own pace. Different roses may take longer than others too. As mentioned, no two roses are exactly the same.
  • Check on your rose daily. Look through the clear bag for evidence of swelling buds or new shoots.
  • Do Not remove the bag until new shoots are at least 1/2 in. Long. Once shoots form, then carefully remove the bag, to avoid breaking off the fragile shoots. It may be necessary to cut the bag in order to do this.
  • After successfully sweating your rose, continue to water the rose as directed. Additional water may be needed if the weather is hot and dry. Clouds and rain are a good thing, but Do Not rely on rain events to provide enough water to new roses. Drip systems too, may not provide adequate water to newly planted roses.

Once new shoots have formed, fertilizing with a balanced, water-soluble flowering rose food like Neptune's Harvest 2-6-4, once per week can help encourage more roots and therefore more shoots to grow.