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December 26, 2023

Pink Kathleen Harrop Bourbon Old Heritage Rose

The basics of rose planting are similar for most varieties however Heritage Roses are slightly different in some respects.

We will cover the following planting aspects:

Light Requirements 

Most rose aficionados will tell you that a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight is needed for healthy roses that bloom well. While this general rule is true for most roses, many of the formidable old roses perform well with less sun. Many thrive with 3 to 5 hours of direct sun.

The Alba varieties are a good example. While they still need some sun to impress, they can get away with less than many others. The climbers are lucky enough to get away with moderate sunlight.

The bottom line is that you will still need a fair amount of sun so they will not be happy in shady garden patches,

Other Weather Conditions

Wind is not a major concern to these sturdy roses. If you have climbing roses, ensure they are securely attached to a stable structure.

Some might require protection if there is frost or snow. This applies particularly to immature specimens.

When to Plant Heritage Roses

Spring to the beginning of fall is the best time to plant these roses. The only time you do not want to plant is when there is frozen ground, an imminent risk of frost, or continuous rain that soaks the ground.

Planting in pots can be done anytime provided you follow the above basic factors and have quality potting medium.

How to Plant Heritage Roses

Create the ideal soil foundation for your rose to thrive. This is done by digging the soil out well and adding nutrients and organic material. The main goal is to create soil that drains well. Naturally, you want to plant the roses in an area that gets a fair amount of sunlight. Also, given their growth habit, give each bush a fair amount of space. This will allow for good air circulation as well as room to grow.

Add in organic material to enrich the soil. A good foundation will ensure healthy growth and reduce the effort required over time.

Planting a heritage rose is similar to other rose bushes. As always, planning and preparation are keys to success.

If you purchase bare root roses, give them a soak overnight in an environment that is not too cold.

Ensure the hole that you dig is deep enough for root development. Place the plants vertically for optimal growth. Gently push the planted bush down after planting and water generously. It is always a good idea to add a bit of mulch. Mulch will suppress weeds and protect the plant.

A newly planted rose will benefit from a bit of fertilizer and remember to water frequently until it is well established. As these roses do not need too much effort, a slow-release fertilizer is the best option. Organic fertilizers work well.

Appreciate that these roses will last many years, it is important to get rich organic soil from the start. This will help with their longevity. 

Planting Bare Root Heritage Roses

The same rules apply to any other rose, in this case. Soak them overnight and remove any unhealthy growth before planting. As always, ensure the space you plant them in is well-prepared and has fertile and organic-rich soil.

Planting Heritage Roses in Pots

While any heritage rose can work in a pot, the more compact varieties are naturally a better bet. Clibers, in a large pot, can also work if you have limited ground space. Plan accordingly and always remember that potted roses will need more frequent watering.

Repotting Heritage Roses 

This is no different considerations from the repoting of other roses. Follow the same principles of gently removing the rose and planting it into a clean pot with fertile and well-draining soil. It is best done after blooming otherwise you will sacrifice the magnificent roses.

Planting Distance and Positioning

Space and good air circulation are important factors to consider. Heritage roses range from compact shrubs to larger bushes as well as climbers, Understand your variety before positioning them.


If you do not add a few heritage roses to your collection you are missing out. Planting them could not be easier. These fine roses are the very foundation of all that we appreciate today. They are tough and hardy and deliver specular blooms. The fragrance is heaven-sent. Add a few to your garden You will not regret it.

For more information on Caring for Heritage Roses we have an article here: or if you would like to know more about the history and the many cultivars of Heritage Roses we have a great article called Heritage Roses - Everything You Need To Know

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