Rose Gardening in Containers

Rose gardening in tubs, barrels, planters, or other containers reflects the movable and changeable ways and whims of today's society. Portable rose plantings are not only a decorative addition to any part of the outdoor living area, they are also a perfect way to change the look of the landscape from month to month or year to year.

Roses in pots extend the scope and possibilities of gardening. Wide walkways can be highlighted with tubs of roses spotted here and there. Steps to the front or back door can be graced with the beauty and fragrance of roses. Miniature roses can dress up window boxes in the summer, and then be brought indoors in winter to perk up the house.

Patios, decks, and terraces have become favorite spots for entertaining and relaxing on warm summer days and evenings. Add to the pleasure of these moments with planters teeming with the color and fragrance of the world's favorite flower. In an area used at night, select a white or pastel rose, such as Cherish, French Lace, or Rose Parade. Bring color right down to the swimming pool with pots of roses set on the paving.

If you have a spot to hang a basket, fill it with miniature roses for a continuous display of summer color, then move the basket indoors for the winter. Select a trailing variety and let the flowers cascade from tree limbs, overhangs, and brackets.

Garden without a garden?

Containers make it possible to grow roses on balconies, terraces, and roof tops high above city streets. The limited gardening space that comes with condos, town houses, and brownstones can be multiplied with portable planters.

Movable roses should be the shorter-growing varieties of the modern-day hybrid roses as they are more compact with great quantities of flowers all summer. Good selections are:

  • New Year
  • Showbiz
  • Impatient
  • Intrigue
  • Sun Flare
  • Mon Cheri
  • Marina
  • Charisma
  • First Edition
  • Cathedral
  • Bahia
  • Electron
  • Redgold
  • Gene Boerner
  • Angel Face
  • Europeana
  • Garden Party
  • Sarabande
  • Ivory Fashion
  • Tree roses of all sizes are perfect for containers and should be placed wherever an accent is needed. Plant colorful geraniums, sweet alyssum, or other annuals at the base to fill in the void, soften the lines, and create two levels of interest.

    Containers can be any shape - - round, or hexagonal - - as long as they are 18 inches across and 14 inches deep for proper root development (except for minis, which can grow in smaller containers). Use pots made of plastic, clay, terra cotta, ceramic, metal, or wood. All they need to be effective is drainage at the bottom. If you're working with a planter that does not have drainage holes, add a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of the container so the roots do not become waterlogged. Pots can be heavy and difficult to move about, so casters are an excellent addition.

    All roses need at least six hours of sun a day; ideally place movable roses where they receive morning sun and some protection form the midday heat. Also try to keep them out of drying winds. If the plants receive uneven sun and start growing in one direction to reach the light, rotate them often to keep growth straight.

    Roses in containers will need more water than the same roses in the ground. Not only are all sides of the container subject to drying sun and winds, there is also no ground water to fall back upon. Watch planters carefully and water whenever the growing medium starts to dry out. Water until moisture runs from the bottom of the container. A mulch on top of the planter will help keep the roots of the roses moist and cool.

    Planting medium for containers should be rich and well drained. A packaged or homemade mix of half organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and half perlite or vermiculite is ideal. As roses in pots must be watered so often, they must also be fertilized frequently. Feed each week with soluble fertilizer at one-quarter strength for even growth and flowering.

    When winter comes, move the pots into an unheated but frost- free area, keep the soil slightly moist, cover with plastic, and return to the outdoors in spring.