Planted Bareroot Roses...Need Advice

Hi, I'm not new to roses but this has been a humbling experience. I planted 25 bareroot plant in a raised bed alongside the southside of my house. I hauled away the old dirt that was in there and replaced it with a mixture 50/50 of topsoil and nutribrew . I then planted my bare root roses in early May. Prior to my planting I kept the roses with roots submerged in a large barrel of water for 4-5 days. All showed sprouts by the time I planted them. When I planted them, I wrongly planted them too deep with 3- 4 inches of dirt covering the crown and on top of that I put down a layer of cocoa mulch. Fast forward 4 weeks: I raised my plants but they all appear to be doing poorly. The canes not the leaves have black spots on them and the sprouts/buds seem to not look very robust. Much of the new growth looks wilted. I haven't fertilized but my soil is quite organic. Could the cocoa mulch had an adverse effect on the roses? Any ideas??
Thanks,
Bob Lyons Penfield, NY
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It's not the cocoa mulch. It's something else.
Soaking them is fine, but exactly how much "new sprouts" are we talking? Plants that have extensive sprouting experience a lot of setbacks when planted because that pale rubbery growth usually dies off and the plant has already expended a lot of it's stored energy producing that growth. Did you mound the bare roots with mulch after planting? The big enemy of bare root roses is dehydration and that is why most reputable grower recommend mounding the canes with mulch until you see new growth peeking out. Planting with the bud union 4"-6" below the soil surface is recommended procedure for cold climates. No problems there. Moving them after they were planted could set them back more. I've never heard of "nutribrew" but if it's high in nitrogen or a form of hot compost, your plants could be experiencing fertilizer burn on those very tender new roots. You don't want to fertilizer newly planted roses until you have at least 4" of new growth on them. Another possibility is that you purchased these bare roots from a less than reputable source, like WalMart or Home Depot. Waxed hackroot body bags are the worst possible source of roses for any garden. Even experienced rosarians have a hard time with a decent survival rate.
So, which of these scenarios fits what you've done or not done?
Sunflower MS 7b
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I'm surprised Sunflower didn't pick up on this, but soaking the roses for 4-5 days is excessive and could very well have created problems for the plants down the road. One does need to rehydrate bare root plants, but the soaking should be limited to a few hours or overnight - soaking longer than that will deprive the roots of needed oxygen and you can actually drown the plant by longer soaking if all the roots are submerged.
You also don't indicate where you are located, but deep planting of roses (soil ABOVE the graft union) is typically recommended for colder climates. Moving them again 4 weeks after planting this late in the season can also have an adverse affect, as the roots - provided they were not compromised initially by the long soaking - will have already started to establish themselves, resulting in transplant shock.
To your defense, as Sunflower has aready indicated, the failure rate for bare root roses is pretty high - even with high quality product. My nursery receives bare root roses from very reputable wholesale sources in late January/early February and they are potted up almost immediately - even then we experience about a 25% failure rate. Best to purchase local container grown roses whenever possible. You will get healthy, well-root stock already in full leaf and the transition from container to ground is typically very smooth and uneventful, even at the height of the rose season - June.
pam - gardengal
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On Wed, 09 Jun 2004 09:57:31 GMT, "Robert M. Lyons"

Most roses need lots of sun, and the more the better. Newly planted roses need at least 1" of water each week. Give them a soaking twice a week unless there is rain. Roses are heavy feeders and grow best with organic fertilizers. Give them a light ground covering of composted cow manure and fish emulsion, alternating applications every three weeks during the growing season. Stop fertilizing 2 months before the first frost date. Black spot is hard to control once it gets started--improve air circulation and keep water off the leaves. It takes a year or two for roses to become well established.
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