Rose Growth Stages: How Fast Do Roses Grow?
Are you wondering how long it will take your rose seedling or bare-root plant to grow into a large, blooming bush? Roses grow quite quickly, but there is a lot of variability depending on variety and age at transplanting. In this article, gardening expert and rose enthusiast Danielle Sherwood walks you through the stages of a rose’s growth cycle.
Roses are a flower fan’s dream. They are woody perennials that come back year after year. The majority bloom in repeat flushes from spring through fall, providing a long season of colorful blooms unmatched by other perennials.
With large bouquet-worthy flowers and intoxicating fragrance, roses can’t be beat as garden workhorses. However, it can take them some time to reach their mature size and optimum performance levels.
You may be curious to know how long it will take for your small band rose, potted nursery rose, or bare root to reach maturity, and what you can do to help it grow and flourish. Below, I’ll discuss the growth cycle of roses, how long they take to reach maturity, their expected lifespan, and how you can help them along! Let’s dig in!
The Short Answer
Roses are fairly rapidly growing perennials. Depending on the variety, you will usually see blooms in their first year of growth. However, the quantity and size of blooms will be less impressive than those displayed at maturity, which takes 3-4 years on average.
Growing roses from seed requires patience and seedlings will take at least a year to flower. If you buy a nursery-grown potted plant or bare root rose that you transplant in spring, you will see flowers that summer. Water, fertilization, and garden conditions all affect rose growth rate and performance.
The Long Answer
Though you may see a few small blooms in your rose’s first year of growth, it can take 3-4 years to reach full size and maturity. The growth rate you can expect from your rose varies widely and is impacted by the following:
Plant Size at Transplant
For the fastest blooms, you should buy a potted rose. Often, they are already blooming at time of purchase. However, bare-root roses are often more mature, and though they are first focused on root development, they too generally bloom their first summer.
Choose a variety adapted to your growing zone to ensure your plant will not be damaged by freezing winter temperatures. Certain roses grow faster than others, like robust climbers or species roses.
To grow to their potential, most roses prefer 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. They like well-draining soil with a pH of 6-6.5.
Care and Maintenance
To promote growth, fertilize your roses at least 3 times per year. In early spring when they first leaf out, after the first flush of blooms, and in late summer before the fall flush. Water whenever the top few inches of soil are dry, checking often when temperatures go above 85℉.
Growth rate depends greatly on how your rose was propagated. Are you growing your own roses from seeds? Did you receive a large bare root from an online vendor? Did you purchase a small, own-root rose in a pot? This growth chart can help you figure out your desired option:
|Rose Growth Chart|
|Propagation Type||Time Until Transplant||Time Until Bloom||Time Until Maturity|
|Seed||4-6 months||6 months to 1 year||3-4 years|
|4-6 inch Potted Band Rose||Immediately||1 week to 1 year||3-4 years|
|Bare-root||Immediately||Same year||1-3 years|
|1 Gallon Potted Rose||Immediately||Same year||2-3 years|
If you want fast results, you will get the most blooms quickly from a nursery-grown 1-gallon or larger potted rose. This will allow you to see the color and form of blooms right away, even though the best quality and quantity will only be apparent at maturity in 2-3 years after transplanting.
With good quality bare-root roses from a reputable online vendor, you will also see blooms in the first season. However, the most important factor is the specific rose you choose. For rapid growth, you want the most vigorous varieties.
Fast Growing Varieties
Some roses, especially those related to species (wild) roses are very fast growers. Other cultivars are bred to have vigorous growth rates. If you’re impatient for the look of a mature garden rose with lots of blooms as soon as possible, consider one of these varieties:
|botanical name Rosa ‘New Dawn’|
|plant type Perennial|
|sun requirements Full Sun-Part Shade|
|height 10’ – 15’|
|hardiness zones 6-11|
‘New Dawn’ is a gorgeous silvery pale pink, with long canes that will quickly grow to their mature height of 10-15 feet. This rose “World’s Most Popular Rose” at The World Convention of Rose Societies.
‘New Dawn’ boasts excellent disease resistance and blooms all season.
|botanical name Rosa ‘The Fairy’|
|plant type Perennial|
|sun requirements Full Sun-Part Shade|
|hardiness zones 5-10|
If you’d prefer all the bloom power on a compact shrub, dwarf polyantha ‘The Fairy’ will surpass your expectations. This rose grows quickly and is soon smothered with a dense cover of double pink blooms.
‘The Fairy’ is a polyantha rose, known for being reliable and vigorous. It grows well despite pest pressure and drought. It’s well known for its pink rose blossoms and hardy nature.
|botanical name Rosa ‘RADrambler’|
|plant type Perennial|
|sun requirements Full Sun-Part Shade|
|hardiness zones 3-7|
If you’re dreaming of trailing canes of double red roses, and need it to come to fruition NOW, ‘Ramblin Red’ is a good bet. This rose can climb up to 6 feet in a single season. It blooms prolifically in flushes from spring through frost.
If you’d like to keep ‘Ramblin Red’ in the 8-10 foot range, prune in early spring. This rose has been known to reach up to 20 feet in perfect conditions.
Tips For Encouraging Faster Growth
While it takes most roses 3-4 years to reach their mature size and maximum bloom production, their growth is most vigorous when selected carefully and given optimal growing conditions. Follow these tips for fast-growing and robust roses.
Purchase a Healthy Potted Rose
When purchasing your potted rose (you want to look for one whose pot is 1 gallon or larger), look for signs of disease and pest presence. Canes should be uniformly green and free of abrasions.
Check the underside of the leaves for spider mite webbing and insect eggs. Skip any roses with wilting, yellow, or otherwise diseased foliage. If possible, slide the rose gently from the pot (turn it upside down) and look for lots of plump white roots.
If they are dried or brown, move on. The best growth results from a healthy rose that is less likely to weaken when transplanted into your garden.
Plant in the Optimum Location
Pick a site that receives 6-8 hours of direct sun. Some roses will tolerate partial shade, but all grow most robust with lots of sunshine.
Choose a spot with well-drained soil. Roses hate sitting in soggy soil, so amend with some horticultural sand, perlite, or bark to increase drainage if planting in heavy clay or wet areas.
Choose a spot without root competition from other large shrubs or trees. Roses need room to reach their full size and do not appreciate competing for resources. They can, however, be enriched by companion planting with low-growing ground covers that retain moisture and attract beneficial predators.
Water and Fertilize
In its first year, your rose may need to be watered every few days. To avoid overwatering, test the soil by plunging your finger in knuckle-deep. If the soil is completely dry at that depth, water. Soak the rose thoroughly at the base, avoiding wet foliage that can lead to the growth of diseases.
Roses appreciate somewhat regular fertilization. Do not use a synthetic fertilizer on a baby band rose or a bare-root plant.
The excess nitrogen can burn fragile roots. Instead, amend the soil with compost when planting, and use a gentle organic fertilizer (like a seaweed or alfalfa formula) when it first leaves out, after first bloom, and in late summer. After your rose’s first year, feel free to use a slow-release granular fertilizer at the start of the season.
Plant at the Right Time
Your new rose plant is less likely to experience transplant shock when planted in the cooler months of spring or fall. In spring, roses can spend some time focusing on root development and adjusting to their new conditions before the summer heat hits. In fall, roses will establish root growth before entering winter dormancy.
If you purchase a small band rose (4-6 inch pot), choose spring over fall so it can put on some growth before your first frost. These small plants are more tender and need time to grow before exposure to freezing temperatures.
Prune as Needed
Don’t prune roses in their first year of growth unless you see diseased or broken canes. Let them put on a bit of growth, then prune as needed to maintain your desired size and the health of the plant.
Once established, pruning roses actually encourages healthy new growth and more blooms. Deadheading is simply the removal of spent blooms and tells the plant to produce more flowers. You can do this after each flush.
In early spring, just as the leaf nodes begin to swell, prune back any canes that are damaged, diseased, or dead back to healthy green growth. Cut out any canes that cross each other or grow toward the center of the bush. This will create an attractive growth habit and necessary airflow, which will prevent stunted growth due to disease.
Growth Stages From Seed
Roses take a long time from seed to bloom, and usually do not come true to the parent plant. If you don’t mind the surprise of a new variety, it can be a rewarding process.
It can take roses up to a year to bloom when grown from seed. In fact, it may take several weeks to 6 months for a rose seed to germinate at all, depending on the variety.
If you’d like to grow roses from seed, you can purchase them or harvest them from the rosehips on your own plants. To encourage rosehip growth, do not deadhead your rosebushes after the last fall flush.
Normally, rosehips would be eaten by wildlife in the fall or early winter, allowing their seeds to be dispersed via their fecal matter. The seeds would then experience a chilly winter period before germinating in spring.
Once you have your seeds, you will need to provide this cold stratification yourself. The cold helps the break down the seedcoat and encourages them to come out of dormancy. Put your seeds in a wet paper towel and insert into a plastic bag. Leave them in your fridge for 6-10 weeks.
Once the seeds germinate, plant them into small pots and give them time to reach a large enough size to transplant. This may take 6 months to a year. Once they have reached at least 12 inches tall, you can plant them out (if conditions are mild) or up-pot them into larger containers.
Growth Stages From Cuttings
Roses can also be grown from cuttings, which is an easier and faster method. Cuttings also stay true to their parent plant, so you know what to expect. Most rose cuttings will begin to root in 3-6 weeks, and can potentially flower in their first year. Softwood cuttings are the easiest and quickest to grow.
To grow your own roses from cuttings, use sharp, sanitized bypass pruners to cut a 6-8 inch section of cane right below a leaf node (where leaves attach to the cane).
Fill a small (3-4 inch) pot with potting soil. Saturate the soil thoroughly with water.
Create some wounds in the cutting which will create a new spot for roots to sprout. Gently pull off the lower leaves (leave a few at the top for photosynthesis). Use your fingers to snap off the bottom few inches of thorns, which should come off cleanly.
Dip the lower portion of the cutting into rooting hormone powder and place the coated cutting into the prepared pot. Bury about half of the cane length into the soil, and leave the top few leaves exposed.
Provide a moist, warm environment for your cutting by encasing it in a DIY mini-greenhouse. Cut off the bottom of a plastic soda bottle, leaving the cap off for ventilation. Place the bottle cut side down over your cutting’s container.
Keep the cutting between 55-75℉, and out of direct sunlight. Begin checking for roots after 6-8 weeks. Move your seedling to a larger pot after a few months if you see many healthy roots and new growth.
Some rose varieties can live hundreds of years in the right conditions! The oldest rose in the world, The Rose of Hildesheim, is now a heritage site in Germany. It is a wild dog rose estimated to be 1,000 yrs old.
Species roses and ramblers easily live 30-50 years, while well-cared-for shrub roses can live for several decades.
More fragile varieties, like the hybrid teas, often only last 10-15 years. In general, own-root roses live much longer than grafted ones.
Your rose will most likely reach its full size and optimum bloom production in 3-4 years. Depending on the variety and growth stage at purchase, it will flower in the first or second season. If you’re feeling impatient, a vigorous variety in a large nursery pot planted in early spring is the best option.
To ensure your rose grows to its full potential, provide it with the best possible environment. Water whenever the soil is dry, fertilize, and plant in a site with lots of sunshine. You will soon have a free-flowering shrub that will give you years of beauty in the garden. Enjoy your roses!
Seeds and cuttings take longer to grow, but they are cheaper and provide more variety. Regardless of your starting point, ensure that lavender gets off to a quick start by preventing transplant shock and giving it a proper growing environment.