When I lived in Osterville I had very little sunny garden space where I could grow roses, so I planted them in pots and made a rose garden on my back deck. Anyone with a sunny patio or deck can grow a container rose garden as I did. In some ways it makes good sense to grow roses in pots because then they can be placed where you’ll be sitting, enjoying the fragrance of the flowers. If you want to grow roses in containers, here are some tips for success:
Don’t plant in very small pots. Be sure to choose a container that is large enough to support the initial fast growth of your rose bushes and sustain them for a few years in the same pot. Remember with plants that what goes on below the soil line is reflected up above…so a plant that has enough room in the pot to spread its roots will grow more quickly, and since roses flower on new growth this means more blossoming.
Fill the pots with good quality potting mix, or potting mix mixed with a little loam and compost only. Don’t put rocks, mulch or other debris in the bottom of the pots and don’t cover the drainage holes with screens, paper towels, rocks etc.
If you want to save the roses from year to year plan on over-wintering them in an unheated garage or shed. If these areas are likely to freeze it might be smart to use wooden, plastic or metal containers so that the pot doesn’t crack.
Because roses are heavy feeders plan on applying a small amount of organic rose fertilizer every month during the growing season, along with a top dressing of composted manure in the spring. An additional application of a synthetic, time-release fertilizer in the spring when you put the plants outside again will jumpstart the shrubs’ growth and flowering for the season.
Similar to roses planted in the ground, prune container-grown roses in the early spring when you position the plants outside.
When planning your container-grown rose garden be sure to use some taller-growing rose varieties, some shorter, and several types of roses. Many shrub roses are known for prolific re-flowering, so be sure to include some such as those in the Drift, Oh So Easy, Flower Carpet or Knockout series as well as some hybrid teas. David Austin roses often have highly fragrant flowers so think about including some of those as well.