Roses growing in containers are widely available for purchase at many nurseries in most areas of California year-round. Many of the less common varieties may be available only as bare-root plants during bare-root season, typically during January and February, either at nurseries or from mail order sources. Read these four tips before purchasing roses:
Select appropriate rose varieties for your area. Use special care when ordering rose varieties by mail to be certain that they are appropriate. Remember that websites selling roses typically have a national audience, and many roses that will thrive in New England will struggle in Southern California. GardenZeus has customized recommendations for your area for all classes of roses, from climbers and floribundas to hybrid teas and miniatures. Go to GardenZeus and enter your zip code, then go to roses.
When purchasing roses at a nursery, bring sturdy gloves and eye protection for safety, and wear long sleeves and long pants, to minimize thorn pricks on exposed skin when selecting, loading, and unloading.
To inspect a container rose, hold the plant firmly at the based of the main stem, lift a few inches off the ground, and tap the edge of the nursery pot to loosen it and look at roots. Ideally you will see a few light-colored roots at the edges of the root ball. If you see thick growth of roots at the edges of the root ball, circling roots, or thick matted roots, the plant may have been potted for longer than is desirable; GardenZeus recommends selecting a different plant.
Do not allow purchased roses to remain too long in their nursery containers; the plastic container that arrives with your rose is typically too small for long term use. Roses purchased in containers should be well watered, then allowed to drain overnight before planting.