Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Roses in Bags

I went to Big Lots yesterday to pick up a few things.  It was not a surprise to find bare root roses in bags thrown onto a shelf in the garden supply department. 

These poor things were in unbelieveably awful condition.  Take a really close look at the canes on the roses in the photo below.  Look how many of them are dead or damaged.

This rose received particularly rough treatment while it was being cut back and processed.  Its skinny little canes were shredded.  No one in the 'quality control' portion of the process thought to remove it from the pile.

Usually I find mostly hybrid tea roses in these displays, and this was the case here, too.  I was surprised to find Reine des Violettes, a lovely hybrid perpetual under different circumstances.  I guess nothing is immune to this sort of treatment.

There ARE standards for the grading of bare root roses, as set by the American Rose Society.

Grade 1.  Hybrid teas and grandifloras must have three or more strong canes, two of which are at least 18 inches (45 cm) long.  Floribundas meet the same standards, but the canes need only be 15 inches (38 cm) long.  Polyanthas must have four or more canes at least 12 inches (30 cm) long.  Climbers and ramblers must have three or more canes 24 inches (60 cm) long.

Grade 1 1/2.  Hybrid teas and grandifloras must have two or more canes at least 15 inches (38 cm) long.  Floribundas must have two or more canes 14 inches (35 cm) long.  Climbers must have two or more canes 18 inches (35 cm) long.  Polyanthas which do not meet Grade 1 standards are not graded.

Grade 2.  All classes must have two or more canes 12 inches (30 cm) long.

This is what a bare root rose SHOULD look like, with healthy green canes and abundant roots.  There is no way that a decent root system could possibly fit into these little bags.

Notice that there is no indication of Grade on these packages.  These are absolutely the bottom of the barrel, being packaged and sold for whatever paltry amount the sellers can get for them.

As I finished my shopping and got in line at the register, I noticed that the man in front of me had four roses in his cart.  I asked if he was familiar with how to grow roses.  He told me he wasn't, and I gave him some advice on how they should be prepared and planted.  I also told him to save his receipt, and reminded him to be sure to bring the plants back if he has a problem with them.  I didn't have the heart to tell him what I was really thinking.


  1. LOL.. to the above comment.

    Our knock-out roses are the easiest we've ever planted. But this year I want to get some real hearty ramblers out there along the fences. Wish me luck! I'll be asking your advice.

  2. I noticed roses in bags at Merrifield, when I was there on Monday. Bigger bags than the ones you've shown, and I didn't really look, as I had shrubs on my mind.

  3. Do you carry Hartwood Roses business cards around? Just offer one and say he could contact you for free advice, or he could browse your blog (and site, of course) at his convenience for more help. Letting him know (in person or on your card) about your "ARS" membership/experience would especially help.

  4. I do carry business cards with me. It seemed like it would be a bit out of place to pull out one in this case. He was happy with my advice to cut off the dead parts, soak the roses for a few hours in a bucket, and plant them with the bud union below the soil level (pointing to the spot on the rose itself so he understood.)

    I'm obviously happiest growing roses. 'Selling' roses, and selling myself, is a bit of a stretch for me. I'm working to get over it.

  5. Did you also notice the concrete mix/hypomix next to the roses? If they were not dead before planting, planting in that would finish the job.

  6. Connie I think you did the best you could under those circumstances. Someone buying roses in Big Lots isn't necessarily a serious gardener. Of course the results from planting these roses won't help.

  7. I sense a theme may need to join a support group to ease your anxieties over roses in bags. Oh, are OUR support group for these things!

  8. So educational! We have hardly any garden space...but roses are a priority to me. I have them in the front and I bought a climbing rose called "Social Climber." :) Do you know it?
    Smells heavenly.
    Mary Ann
    PS Following you.

  9. Those are some of the worse bags of roses I've seen. I try to avoid the bags - I would have picked up Reine. I once saw someone buying a bag rose that was bent over, obviously separated from it's roots and I said that it didn't look good and I wouldn't buy it. They knew nothing of roses yet they were certain they would have success! Live and learn. You just have to hope they know it's the seller and not the roses that are at fault and they will try roses again.

  10. Boy, these body bag roses look bad!!! I am so glad that we have you and other vendors to choose from as an alternative. I just wish that the broader public would get more educated that it is really important to buy quality roses to begin with! Great that your post sheds some light on this topic.

  11. You have totally changed my mind about buying these kinds of roses and thinking I was getting a bargain. I can't hank you enough for sharing your expertise so generously.


  12. You've been such a big help to me!


  13. Thanks for the info on bare root roses. I bought several of them last year at a home improvement store and only one survived and it's struggling at that. At least I know what to look for now!

  14. I'M with you sister,in the end when you buy crap don't expect a rose to come out of it.

  15. I Got the Reine des violettes from big lots in 2010. It looked awful, just like the roses in the pics did. Today it is wonderful! And for only 3 dollars. Last year I found 'peace' rose and got it, but it died before I could even plant it out. I think for the price they're worth a try, after a knowledgeable inspection at least.


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