Grafted or Own Root Roses

When purchasing roses I sometimes have the option of purchasing grafted or own root plants. Do you have a preference and if so why? Appreciate your insight! Diane

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I have always preferred grafted plants, but the uncertainty of weather lately is changing my mind. I find it takes a bit longer for own root to establish, but the chances of survival through winter go way up with them over grafted.


I used to only grow grafted roses because that was what was readily available. Now it depends on what is available. Although I am moving more to own root as they seem to survive Minnesota winters with less winter protection.


I always try to purchase own root. I find that even if they die back to the ground, they almost always come back. If I can’t find the rose’s own root then I’ll purchase a grafted (preferably on muti-flora or fortuniana root stock) one and eventually root my own. Some own roots do take longer to become established, and some take off really quickly. I take knowing that if taken care of, the own roots might even out live me :wink:


I’m interested to read this thread. New to Georgia and its growing conditions, 2 years ago I purchased own root plants of Just Joey and Ring of Fire from a prominent national rose grower… who said “these own root plants will start slower, but grow faster than grafted bushes.” While those plants were coming to me from Texas (not until MAY, BTW), I purchased the same two roses which had been grafted bare roots, but potted up in January, and grown in a green house in Georgia, and not released for sale until March 30. (Free ad here: Autumn Hill Nursery!!!) Obviously, these were two roses I WANTED!!!

Today, two years later: JUST JOEY
—The grafted Just Joey, grown in the green house, is 3" tall and getting bushy; produced many large blooms last year and I’m eager to see this year’s production! It’s a gorgeous, full, healthy bush.
—The own root Just Joey is scarcely 1.5’ tall, with only 3 spindly canes. I have winter-protected it just because its so small… that works for me, but where is the “fast growth” that was billed to me?

Ring of Fire Pretty much same story…
—Own root plant is growing very slowly… maybe 2’ tall with 3-4 spindly canes.
—The grafted plant grown in the greenhouse is 3-4’ tall and proliferous!

In Las Vegas, I had a garden of 250 rose bushes, all planted directly into the ground as grafted bare roots. I never had one fail; and none were so frail that they didn’t produce abundant roses! (Many exhibition winners!)

In this Georgia climate, is there so much difference between planting in your own garden soil vs. growing in pots in a greenhouse? Or is it a weather issue… avoiding the March Refreeze?

But after 2 years, I would think these two own-root roses should have thrived better than these have… Your thoughts?

Just curious… why are you growing roses in a greenhouse in GA? Just plant them in the ground like you do with grafted roses, Roses Unlimited in South Carolina only grows own root roses. Their roses have grown very nicely for me. I am also in SC. My Zephrine Drouhin (own root) is a climber and started slowly but it is now 3 years old and is growing like Topsy and needs some training on its column.


Are the two roses grown in the same conditions in the garden (barefoot and own root)? I did read in the material I have received to NOT fertilize own root roses much in year one, especially in the beginning as it can burn the roots. I have not had your experience but I am in Wisconsin. Most of my roses are bareroot too.

Hi again Carol,
The greenhouse roses come from a fabulous nursery here in No Georgia… Autumn Hill Nursery. They purchase about 2000 grafted and own root plants from excellent growers around the country, take delivery in December, and pot them up in 3-gallon pots during Dec-Jan. We reserve them in advance from their website lists, while they nurture them until end of March in their greenhouses.

When we pick them up, they look like 2nd- or 3rd-year bushes! 3+ feet tall, and bursting with buds and blooms. With a small garden like mine, it’s just nice to see a “bush” growing, versus waiting for a “stick” to grow. Believe me, after all the roses I’ve grown, I certainly have no trepidations about planting bare roots. I just like to see the blooms sooner!

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Hi Diane,
Yes, the pairs of roses are all growing in the same conditions… With only 40 plants, they are fairly close together (well, 4 feet apart…but all in the front yard), and have the same soil and sun/light exposure.

Like you, I have always taken caution with fertilizers on ANY bare root plants. I swear by Super Thrive in a very small dosage (1/4 tsp!) with a gallon of water; and only use Mills Magic organics the first year.

I just thought it funny how the gentleman at the own root nursery was SO serious about the growth comparison of the two types of plants. (But he is SO wrong, so far!) We’ll see what this year brings… if a freeze that they’re warning us about doesn’t do them in day after tomorrow! Thanks for your comments!

Ah…. Now I understand. So you bought them potted from the nursery. Ok. Grafted roses are typically 2 year old plants that have been grown in fields. They are “harvested”, prepared for cold storage and stored cold until the rose is sent to the buyer. An own root rose is a rooted cutting usually not even a year old. However, I have gotten some large potted own root roses from Roses Unlimited. So the grafted bare root rose has a two year head start on an own root rose. That explains part of the difference in growth you are observing with your roses. Did your own root roses grow leaves and bloom? Or just remain leafless canes?

Yes, my own-root roses grew leaves and bloomed with several small but nice blooms. Their canes and stems were short, as new plants are. All I’m saying here is that my own-root plants are FAR behind the grafted plants of the same varieties, planted in the same year. It was a good test, actually. The grafted plants are twice as tall, and twice as bushy, and producing twice the amount of new stem and foliage growth right now in March, as the own-root plants.

So okay… “That’s all I know about that” -Forrest Gump :zipper_mouth_face:

Yes, because your grafted roses are at least two years older than your own root roses. It would be like comparing a toddler and an adolescent. Of course an adolescent is bigger and grows faster. Give your baby own root roses a chance to mature. I like own root roses because you don’t worry about rootstock “suckers” growing and taking over the grafted variety. It is all the same rose from root to bloom.

It is not unusual for own root roses to take 2-3 years to get established. Some roses do better grafted versus own root. No way for us growers to know which perform better grafted.


I have always preferred own root to grafted. Yes they have to have to catch up but I find they are more resilient in all types of weather. I believe I did better with an own root Harison’s Yellow rather than the one grafted to Dr. Huey root stock, I literally watched it fight for existence and Dr. Huey prevailed…odd to see the red and yellow bloom side by side…

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I have about half own root and half grafted. Over the last 6 years the “death rate” seems to be about the same for both. I wish I could say I’ve had better luck with one or the other, but my own experience is that it’s inconclusive.

I am in Chicago area so also Zone 5. Since 2021 I have planted around 100 own root hybrid teas and floribundas, and also around 100 grafted HTs and FLs.

  • If you have loamy, fairly light soil, many own root plants will do well

  • Some roses simply don’t do well as own root and need to be grafted to perform better

  • For heavy clay soil - typically found all over the Midwest, I prefer grafted on Dr. Huey. Multiflora can also do well as a rootstock in heavier soils.

  • My own experience is that winter hardiness is the same for own-root vs. grafted. I have had vigorous own-root bushes show up dead as a door nail come Spring (despite protection). Liv Tyler and Dee-Lish come to mind for example.

  • Most own-root roses will take a year or two before they attain the size of grafted roses. But there are exceptions - for me Oh My!, Apricot Candy and Stiletto were full size by the end of their first year. So it does vary.

Conclusion - both can work and I am indifferent!

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I grow and sell only own root organic roses. Yes, they take longer to achieve mass, but as stated, there’s no failed graft union in the cards. I urge my customers to use only organic fertilizers, as they seem safest. And yes, some roses do not grow vigorously on their own roots and a graft is a better choice. I only sell roses that are at least one year old, usually closer to 2 years old, and my nursery stock is outside year round, so any weak plants get culled. I love this forum because I get so see all sides of the issue and learn from others across the USA. I’m in Nashville, NC, and we’ve recently been bumped up to zone 8A!

Welcome, MADActuary to the ARS rose forum!

I love, love , love my own roots,they just need a bit different approach for first couple of years( I like to keep them in pots(up potting few times) until they get strong enough to go in ground in Georgia,feed liquid fertilizer and watch that water). They grow HUGE! Never had really good luck with Dr.Huey and this year I got my first fortuniana grafted one. Being fairly new to roses(5 years and 2 completely different climats),I can certainly tell that own root rose at the end of season in my garden is bigger and much bushier than grafted on Dr.Huey. Never had multiflora so far.


I find this true also. Many HT’s just don’t do well as own-root. I’ve tried, hundreds of dollars spent, only to have little spindly things that just don’t grow. I don’t know how the own-root growers are getting full-size bushes out of these, I’m sure not.

Shrub roses and OGR’s I find will do fine own-root. Other classes I prefer to find them grafted.