I have run out of spaces in my garden to plant roses and thought I would try growing some in containers, but I know nothing about it so I have sought out some expert advice from my friend Teresa Byington, consultant rosarian and co-host of the Rose Chat Podcast, where I first ‘met’ Teresa when she and Chris VanCleave interviewed me about my art and my interest in roses. So I am absolutely thrilled to have Teresa here as my guest to answer all of my questions about growing roses in containers. Here’s the interview and pictures of Teresa in her beautiful garden:
ME: I see that you have been growing more roses in containers than ever before so I’m sure you’ve got lots of tips for beginners. I have bought my roses at the end of the flowering season here, we’re two months away from Winter and the weather’s still quite mild. Am I meant to be doing anything yet or do the roses just stay in their little pots over Winter?
TB: I have never bought in late fall and tried to winter them over. I would pot them in something much bigger and bring them out of the cold. Water them once a month during the winter months while they are in storage. My roses are in a dark garage that is only very slightly heated.
ME: When do I need to repot the roses?
TB: About every 3 years. They will become root bound and the soil will need to be refreshed!
ME: What size pot would you recommend, and what type of pot should you use?
•Any type of pot (with drainage) will work.
•Clay tends to dry out quicker.
•The pots I have my larger roses are about 10 gallons.
•The bigger the pot, the less you will have to water.
ME: We go away a lot off visiting rose gardens and I am worried about the pots drying out over Summer. Is it possible to plant the roses in water well pots?
TB: I have not tried those pots, but they would most likely work. Remember though, “roses like water but they don’t like wet feet.” That usually refers to clay soils that hold too much water but you would want to be mindful of that!
ME: What about water? What are your tips for watering, how frequently would you recommend and any ways to stop the pots drying out?
TB: Watering depends on the heat of the day and whether or not it rains. There are periods of time in the heat of summer where I water every other day or even every day. Pots need watering more often! If you water in the afternoon or evening, keep the leaves dry. This cuts down on fungal disease.
ME: What about the soil? Do you have a special blend that you use?
TB: Use a lighter mix of soil. When you look at bags of soil they will say “garden” soil or “potting mix”. You want a potting mix. Garden soil is heavier. Never use soil actually out of your garden! It is even heavier! Potting mix is a blend of peat moss, perlite and a few other things … and very little, if any soil!
ME: Are certain roses better suited to pots than others?
TB: It is really up to you. I have seen people grow just about every size of rose in containers.
Drifts roses do great.
I have Belinda’s Dream (large Earth-Kind rose) and Music Box a large rose from the Easy Elegance collection. I also have a few Hybrid Teas and they do well too. It is really up to you. You could even do a big rugosa… if you have a really big pot!
Remember, the these big pot weigh a ton. Well, not actually a ton but more than 100 lb. We have a dolly device that we use to move them. I let Mr. G handle that job!
ME: Do you mulch your roses in pots?
TB: I do mulch my container roses. About 2″ of mulch will help retain the moisture in the container and gives a finished look too.
ME: And what about feeding your potted treasures, what do you like to feed them, how often and when during the rose cycle do you feed them?
TB: They need more food when in pots. Primarily because they are watered more. I fertilise them once a month.
ME: Of course the big question, how much sun do they need and is morning or afternoon sun better?
TB: 6 – 8 hours of sun per day are required. Any less than that and you will have fewer if any blooms and plants that are not hardy.
ME: And what about draughts, is that something that upsets roses?
TB: Rose in pots most likely would not survive a draught. In the ground they have a fighting chance.
ME: Anything special I need to know about pruning roses in containers?
TB: There are different pruning techniques depending on the type of rose. For all roses, remove dead and/or diseased canes and shape them to be pleasing to you. Deadhead — which means remove spent blooms.
I have a bit more about this on my blog here… https://thegardendiary.com/?s=pruning
ME: I heard a rumour that you can grow roses indoors and extend their flowering season. Is this true?
TB: Not unless you have a lot of sun. I have never been successful with doing that. But, hey, give it a try!
ME: Is there anything else I should know?
TB: Buy the plant caddys on rollers. That way you can move them to prime spots when they are flourishing and blooming. And, you can move them out of the way, when they are in a rest period or not looking their best.
Observe your container roses everyday or as often as possible. Getting to know your plants, just like people, and you will see signs of change or stress and you won’t miss the beautiful moments!
ME: Thank you so much Teresa, I am so excited to learn all of this and can now start looking after my four pots properly (Soul Sister, Smooth Little Treasure, Gallipoli Centenary Rose, and an unlabelled red rose).
TB: I wish you all the best with your container roses. Keep me posted!