WHAT IS IT?
No surprises here – it’s a perennial plant with exposed roots. Available from autumn to mid-spring, often by mail order, plants are dug up while dormant, roots washed, then shipped.
WHY WOULD YOU?
Once in the ground, bare-root are exactly the same as container-grown plants, only cheaper. As this is the traditional way to plant roses, you’ll also and more varieties. The key thing is to soak the roots as soon as you can, before planting (if the ground is frozen or waterlogged, plant them temporarily in pots). The planting hole should be deep and wide enough to ensure roots aren’t bent or broken and are covered by at least a centimetre of soil.
WHY WOULDN’T YOU?
Perhaps if you were shopping in spring or summer, when only container-grown are available.
With hundreds to choose from, picking the best is a tall order. Rosa ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, a scented shrub variety (pictured above), was once voted the Nation’s Favourite. The RHS suggests ‘Madame Alfred Carriere’ for a north wall or shady spot; ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ to clamber into trees, and ‘Pink Perpetue’ for covering pillars and trellis.