Growing Roses in Containers:
How to Grow Container Roses Organically

You can enliven even the smallest spaces by growing roses in containers. Planting in containers requires special attention as roses need lots of nutrients and water to produce the flowers we love and the vigorous growth they need to survive. Choose a variety recommended for container-growing (see below) and look for two or three firm shoots.

Container Gardening with Roses: Plant Snapshot

Growing Roses in Containers
  • Rose (Rosa)
  • Annual or perennial? Perennial
  • Recommended varieties for growing in containers (by color):
    • Orange: ‘New Year’
    • Pink: ‘America’, ‘Perfume Delight’, ‘Tiffany’
    • Purple: ‘Neon Lights’
    • Red: ‘Christian Dior’, ‘Christopher Columbus’
    • Salmon: ‘Warm Wishes’, ‘Mikado’
    • Yellow: ‘Golden Celebration’, ‘Mary Cave’ ‘Coronation Gold’
    • White: ‘Iceburg’, ‘White Delight’,
    • Orange & pink: ‘Rio Samba’
    • Pink & yellow: ‘Peace’
  • Recommended USDA Hardiness zones: 03b to 10b
  • Mature Height: 24 to 240 inches (60 to 610 cm) depending on variety
  • Mature Spread: 18 to 240 inches (45 to 610 cm) depending on variety
  • Sun Requirements: Partial shade, partial and full sun
  • Blooming season: Early, mid & late summer
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Growing Roses in Containers: Planting the Seed, Transplanting and/or Root Division

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Most new rose plants are grown from hardwood or semi ripe cuttings. Of these, the semi-ripe cuttings are easiest to try for container-growing.

If you’re planting a bare root plant and it looks dry, soak it in a bucket for a couple of hours before planting. These plants are often cheaper as they are sold without being planted in soil. The bare roots you buy are dormant.

Choose a container that is wider and deeper than your plant and fill it half-way with organic compost and add one cup of organic rose fertilizer. Position the rose ensuring the bud union of the plant (the point that the growing stems meet the root) will be an inch (2.5 cm) below the soil after the rest of the container is filled. Often roses are grafted onto existing rootstock. If your plant fits this description, it’s important that this graft is planted under the soil surface.

After the plant is positioned, fill the remainder of the container with compost, leaving a two inch (5cm) space between the soil and the top of the container.

Roses grown in containers will soon use up all the nutrients in their initial compost. Add a balanced organic rose fertilizer in the spring and use an organic foliage fertilizer at least twice during the flowering season. A 3 inch (8 cm) mulch of well rotted organic farmyard manure should be applied at around the same time you prune your roses in the spring.

Snapshot: Planting Roses in Containers

  • Germination soil temperature: 70 degrees F (21 C)
  • Distance between plants: about 24 to 120 inches (60 to 300 cm) depending on variety
  • Planting depth: Bud union of plant should be 1 inch (2.5 cm) below soil level
  • Days to germination: 5 months
  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6 to 6.9
  • Root division information (perennials only):
    • Root system type (clumping, spreading, rhizome or tuber): Spreading
    • Roots division frequency: Propagate by hardwood or semi-ripe cuttings INSTEAD OF root division
    • In which season should cuttings occur? Early fall
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How to Care for Roses in Containers

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Standard roses shouldn’t need additional support as regular pruning will ensure they don’t get too top heavy.

Regular deadheading is important throughout the flowering season. If you let hips form (the part that contains the seeds after the flower petals drop), the plant may not produce further flowers that year.

It’s important that the plant doesn’t dry out, so container-grown roses may need regular watering in dry conditions. In dry weather, water at least every other day or every day if it’s also very hot.

Make sure container-grown rose plants stay moist in winter as well. Do not allow their roots to dry out. If winter temperatures are often below -5 F (-20 C), it might be worth digging a temporary hole for the rose in the garden and planting it at least 12 inches deep in the ground. Cover this with a thick mulch of compost. Otherwise bring pots indoors.

For more information about caring for your roses, see Rose Bush Care, Pruning Climbing Roses & Pruning Standard Roses.

Snapshot: Roses in Containers Care

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Growing Roses in Containers: Harvesting/Cutting Time

Choose flowers that are beginning to open and cut roses using sharp pruning shears.
Use a special rose vase or place wire frames across the top of a bowl to help hold heavy flowers in place.

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Growing Roses in Containers: Pests & Diseases

Powdery mildew can attack container-grown roses if the leaves are in humid air and the soil has dried out. Use clean, sharp shears to prune out any affected stems. Destroy - don’t compost - this debris.

Topping up the soil with a thick mulch of organic farmyard manure each spring will help prevent soil from drying out.

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Roses in Containers (see Organic Garden Pest Control for information about how to prevent and address pests and diseases)...

Pests

  • Aphids

Diseases

  • Bacterial leaf spot
  • Powdery mildew
  • Rust
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