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Growing roses in containers? If you are like me and have no decent garden bed, then growing roses in containers is the only way to go. The first thing to do before you buy your roses is to spend a little time finding out which roses are suitable for your area. I have chosen three roses (they are on their way). My three are The Fairy (low sprawling climbing miniature) and a 'sport' of the Fairy Shrub Rose; 'Crepuscle', chosen firstly because it flowers for 10 months of the year, it is tough and makes an excellent climber over an archway or trellis. It is an apricot colour and it is fragrant.
The above red rose is a standard rose. It has been grafted onto a single stem of a wild (Rugosa) rose and has a stake to support and 'style' it. Standard Roses give you height without the bushiness below. They are also known as Rose Trees because they look like small trees.
Almost any rose can be grown in a container. You may need a very large pot, but deep is the word here. Roses like plenty of room for their feet. The next thing to consider is where the roses will go. They need from 4 - 6 hours per day or more in full sun (although there are some which tolerate some shade). Make sure you read the tags for the amount of sunlight required. this can be critical. Less sun, less blooms, is the rule of thumb for most, but not all, roses. The selection process is the most important step when you are starting out. Every decent nursery will have tips to help select the right roses for you depending on where you live.
The third rose on its way: 'Madame Alfred Carriere'. One of the most famous roses ever. It is hardy and disease resistant (except for powdery mildew which doesn't even bother it) and this is one thing I have to consider as I live in a sub-tropical region. It is highly fragrant and even tolerates some shade. Just treat it like any other rose and don't be scared of it.
If you are not confident enough to try the larger roses yet, then Miniature Roses are just the thing to start out on. Honestly, 'you can't kill them with an axe'. My Mum has four miniature roses in the very same pots they were in when she bought them. After several years of very hot sun and a great deal of neglect, they are just coming up to their flowering period - again - right now, and every one is alive. (I was very pleased to see them not only alive, but thriving). However, she does believe that they don't need bigger pots because they are so small and so .... they stay that way!
Don't cramp them; always allow for free air circulation around each pot and keep them a couple of feet apart so they are less likely to pass on any diseases when and if they occur. If a potted rose does get a disease such as Black Spot or Powdery Mildew, always move the pot well away from the others. So easy to do with pots. Remove diseased parts, as with any plant, wrap it in paper and throw it in the bin.
The Iceberg Rose is perfect for containers. It may be grown as a shrub, a standard or a climber and is hardy and disease resistant, and it does not need too much water. A great choice. This rose is the best container rose if you are just starting out.
If you are growing roses in containers, the first thing to do is assess the size of rose from the tag, and then the size of the pot. Plastic is cheaper as long as it is the lightest colour you can get and complements the colour of the roses. Be prepared to start with pots around the 7 gallon size and then keep re-potting as their homes become too small. Dark colours absorb heat and are not ideal for roses. Terracotta pots are the next up from plastic and they suit any rose colour because they are the colour of the soil (well pretty much).
Of course, it figures that the smaller roses like miniatures and patio roses would do best in containers. But what about the bigger roses. Can I grow a Climber in a pot? Well, you sure can grow a Climbing Iceberg rose in a pot. So any similar sized rose should do well, too. Just remember that roses have very deep root systems. They have one large main tap root and all the other roots branch out from it. So the main consideration when choosing a container is the depth.
Monday: My three roses arrived. I honestly expected to see 3 little pots with roses in them. Not so. I was totally unprepared for 'bare-rooted' roses. Having finally seen them, I will definitely need pots which are 40cms - 50 cms diameter. (That's medium - large size). Now to go hunting for the right pots for their next few years. I definitely want glazed ceramics.
And they must stay in water until they are ready to be put into their new homes. Never let the roots dry out, no matter what other mistakes you may make - like, um .... Did I check the temperature of the water as it came from the hose to the bucket? Gee, No. It certainly was warm when I did think of it. The hose had been in the sun all morning. So they are topped up with cold water. Oh well.
Well, I didn't get the pots, so I heeled them in. In a garden bed, this means simply digging a big enough hole to fit all your bare-rooted roses in, fill in with soil and water well. They are perfectly safe there for a week or two, until you have time to get the right pots. As long as they are kept in water.
However, having no garden bed, I found an old bucket with a hole at the bottom for drainage, and I left them there for 48 hours as it said on the tag. They're thriving, and Crepuscule is sprouting new leaves. Can't wait to see their flowers.
These roses all survived my heeling in method and I hope they will have long lives in pots. Maybe they're too big for pots? I'll just keep getting bigger ones. Wine barrel containers are perfect for large climbers as are half wine barrels. I had a Fairy rose growing in a half barrel which was actually made of cement but looked like the real thing. These types of containers can really show off your roses beautifully. Garden barrels usually come in small, medium and large, so they've got you covered. If you use water retaining crystals, your roses will love you for it and you will have to water less frequently.
If you would like to see just what can be achieved with growing roses in pots, this site has it all. Notice the climbers in pots!
When growing roses in containers, it's essential to put some small rocks or pebbles at the base of each pot for good drainage, before you add the soil. Of course, the pots must have drainage holes because roses need good drainage just as they need good soil and sunshine. And never put a saucer under your rose, it will encourage root rot.
I know of one woman who won a very prestigious gardening award and she grew everything in pots. She had over 100 containers on her balcony.
What about Soil? The very best soil for growing roses in containers is simply a good quality rose mix or just good quality potting mix (that's what mine are in now) - it does not need to be expensive. But it will certainly help if you add some good compost and some water retaining crystals. You can buy soil with these already added.You will also need some good slow release fertilizer or Seasol - but not until they are well established.
So many roses and other plants can easily be killed by kindness ie. giving them a good dose just when they're expected to be getting used to their new homes - and there are various other additives available online which have worked for many people, some of them are good old-fashioned home grown products.
When to fertilize? When your roses are well established, this should be done each Spring before they sprout buds. But with new roses always wait a month. So I can fertilize my new roses early next September.
I think the most important advice about growing roses is this: 'Don't be scared of them!'