Just because you don’t have a garden bed doesn’t mean you can’t have roses. As long as you have a sunny spot, you can grow beautiful roses in containers. While miniature roses are highly suitable for container growing, maybe even best in a container, in this article I am going to focus on growing full size roses.
The best choices for container life are floribundas, small hybrid teas and shrub roses. Tree roses also look beautiful in a formal container. There are hundreds of roses in these categories, so you will be able to plant any color rose you fancy. The most important thing to remember is that you must use a large pot. Don’t plant a rose in a container any smaller than 16” in diameter, and larger is better.
Roses need very good drainage, and plenty of room for root growth, so you want to use a good quality potting soil in your container. Fill the container; don’t use pebbles or a light material in the bottom of the pot to save on soil. Work a good slow-release granular fertilizer such as Osmocote through the potting soil before planting.
Roses are thirsty plants, and even more so when planted in a pot. Be prepared to water daily in hot weather, and be sure to check your roses frequently to keep them moist. If your containers are sitting on a drainage tray, dump out excess water that might keep the soil overly wet and rot the roots.
Fertilize your container roses on a regular basis. During the spring, when growth is at its peak, give a weekly feeding with a quick-release fertilizer that dissolves in water. Miracle-Gro is a good one. Continue weekly feeding until the heat of summer, when you can slow down to twice a month. Feed once a month in the fall, and stop fertilizing after mid-September, unless you are in a warm winter part of the country.
Watch for fungal diseases or insect pests. If either becomes a problem, use a non-toxic spray, such as the Safer brand. You might need to spray every other week to keep problems under control.
Prune container roses in the same fashion as any other rose, with canes being reduced to around 12 inches tall, and only the strongest, thickest canes left in place. Remove any canes that are damaged or weak, or grow through the interior of the bush.
For those living in extreme winter climates, container roses can be easily stored in a garage or garden shed over the winter, making container growing even more desirable. If you live in a temperate area, your rose can spend the winter outdoors in its usual spot.
Roses are beautiful container plants, and can be shown to their best advantage in a glorious pot. Plain terracotta or even plastic are fine, but if you want to create a really dramatic display, look for a glazed pot in a brilliant color that sets off the color of the blooms, or a formal, ornately designed container to bring an old-world style to your garden.
Keep your potted roses near a bench or patio table so you can sit and admire the fragrance and beauty all season long. Every garden needs at least one rose bush, so don’t let the lack of a planting bed prevent you from having yours. Just plant your rose in a container, and sit back to enjoy the flowers.
Some especially good choices include:
• Purple Tiger
• Bill Warriner
• Easy Going
• George Burns