Container rose gardening is a stylish way to brighten up outdoor spaces. Use a potted rose to create a focal point in a garden or add bold color and fragrance to decks, patios, and entranceways. Planting roses in containers also allows you to control the growing conditions of the plant, a big benefit if your garden soil is less-than-ideal.
To show you just how easy it is to grow roses in containers, we’ve teamed up with the good folks at Easy Elegance® Roses. Easy Elegance® Roses are a gardeners dream! Not only do they have beautiful blooms that repeat all summer long, but the compact plants are tough, cold hardy, and disease resistant. No fussing required!
Picking the best containers for potted roses
Start your potted rose garden off right by picking the best container for the job.
1. Size – When it comes to selecting a pot for container rose gardening, size matters and bigger is better! Roses have extensive root systems and a standard-size rose should be planted in a container in the 8 to 15 gallon size range. The pot should be big enough to accommodate the root ball of the plant, plus offer room for growth. A large container also holds more soil volume and dries out less frequently than a smaller pot, which means less watering for you.
2. Material – Drop into any garden center and you’ll find a wide selection of pots that can be used to plant container roses. Plastic and fiberglass are popular because they’re lightweight and come in many colors and sizes. Terra cotta is a classic choice that has natural appeal, but it’s also a porous material and dries out quickly. That means it needs to be watered more often. To get the look of clay, but with improved water retention, opt for a glazed ceramic pot. Glazed ceramic pots are beautiful, come in many colors, sizes, and styles, and are non-porous so they don’t dry out too quickly.
3. Drainage – Good drainage is essential when container rose gardening. If the soil is too wet, the roots will rot. Look for a pot with drainage holes at the bottom. If your chosen container doesn’t offer drainage, add some holes yourself with a drill or pick a different pot.
Choosing the best rose for container rose gardening
The best roses for containers are miniature and shrub roses. Avoid climbing roses or those that get larger than 5 feet tall and wide as these will be difficult to move and store for winter.
For low-maintenance and a steady supply of gorgeous flowers all summer long, you can’t beat Easy Elegance® Roses. These roses are incredibly easy to grow – even for novice rose gardeners! They’re minimal care, disease-resistant shrub roses that are bred to be tough and long-blooming so you can enjoy months of beautiful roses without the work. Plus, these roses are grown on their own roots. That means the plants are more vigorous and cold tolerant than traditional grafted roses. Expect the large flowers and re-bloom of tea roses combined with the cold tolerance and hardiness of shrub roses.
Here are three outstanding Easy Elegance® cultivars that offer maximum flower power for your containers:
- Coral Cove – Coral Cove has it all; large, double, orange-pink flowers that are produced in abundance all summer long, compact growth, and excellent disease resistance. What more could you want from a rose? With its three-foot height and rounded form, Coral Cove is an excellent choice for a container. We suggest you place the pot where you can enjoy watching the unique orange to pink to yellow flowers bloom for months.
- Screaming Neon Red – Prepared to be dazzled by the brilliant red flowers of Screaming Neon Red! Each semi-doubled flower boasts lipstick-red petals that surround a golden yellow center. And the plants continue to pump out repeat blooms all summer long. Come autumn, the show continues when the dark green foliage turns a lovely deep red. Each plant grows three to four-feet tall with a three-foot spread.
- Yellow Submarine – Bold, beautiful color? Check! Easy to grow? Check! Pest and disease resistant? Check! Fragrant? Check! Yellow Submarine is the rose you’ve been waiting for. The cheerful lemon-yellow flowers fade to butter yellow to white as they mature, which means you always have a range of yellow hues on the plant. And, like other Easy Elegance® Roses, you’ll find the plants to be tough and reliable.
Planting roses in containers
Now that you’ve found the perfect rose and picked your container, it’s time to plant! Start by mixing a high-quality potting mix with compost or aged manure. Roses love rich soil, but they also need well-draining soil. Therefore, the potting mix and compost combination is ideal for container rose gardening. Aim for a ratio of two-thirds potting mix and one-third compost. At this time, a slow-release granular rose fertilizer can also be added to the soil.
Scoop the soil mixture into the container until it is around two-thirds full. Remove the plant from its container and use your fingers to gently loosen the rootball. Slightly mound the soil in the middle of the container and place the rose on top of the mounded soil, spreading out the roots. Add more of the soil mixture until it’s even with the top of the root ball. Gently firm the soil around the rootball, adding more of the potting mix-compost to bring the soil level back up to the top of the rootball.
After planting, give the container a deep drink of water and mulch the soil surface. A two-inch layer of natural bark mulch helps the soil hold moisture and reduces the need to water.
The best site for a container rose
There’s no getting around it, roses love sunshine. Look for a spot that offers at least 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day. The beauty of growing roses in containers is that even if your garden is shaded, you can grow roses wherever you can find some sun; a deck, front entrance, beside a garden bench, or anywhere the sun shines.
When positioning the container, leave room between nearby plants, containers, or structures to allow for air circulation. Good airflow can reduce the occurrence of rose diseases. Space container roses at least two to three-feet apart, so that their foliage doesn’t touch. But, as important as good air circulation is for healthy roses, don’t overdo it by placing the container in a windy spot. Strong winds can dry out the pot faster, meaning you need to water more often, and wind gusts that tip the pot over could damage the plant.
Caring for a container rose garden
There are three main tasks to remember when container rose gardening: watering, fertilizing, and deadheading.
- Watering container roses – Roses appreciate moist, well-drained soil, making consistent watering critical to the health of your plant. Expect to water every day in hot weather, checking the moisture level with a finger inserted into the soil mixture. It’s best to water in the morning so that any water that splashes on the foliage has time to dry before nightfall. Prolonged moisture on the leaves can spread fungal diseases.
- Fertilizing container roses – Roses are heavy feeders and container-grown roses need special attention in regards to fertilizing. Fertilize potted roses each spring with a slow-release organic rose food. During the growing season, a monthly dose of a liquid organic food, like fish emulsion, can help keep flower production high.
- Deadheading container roses – Encourage a long season of fresh flowers by removing spent blooms. When deadheading, clip the stem back to a fresh set of leaves.
Other maintenance tasks when container rose gardening include pruning, which is best done at the beginning of the season once the buds begin to swell. Prune out any dead wood, clipping back to a healthy set of outward-facing buds. Also, if you’re not growing a naturally disease-resistant rose like those from the Easy Elegance® collection, you’ll need to keep an eye out for common rose diseases, like black spot and powdery mildew, taking action where necessary.
Re-potting container roses
Every two to three years, container-grown roses need to be repotted to keep the plants healthy and flowering well. If the plant has outgrown its pot, find a new container that is one to two sizes larger than the original pot. Be sure to pick a pot that has drainage holes! Half fill the new pot with fresh potting mix and compost. Slip the rose from its current container, and move it to the new container, adjusting the soil volume so that the top of the rootball sits just below the top of the container. Add more potting mix and compost around the rootball, firming to ensure there are no air pockets around the roots. Continue to add soil until it reaches the top of the rootball. Water well.
How to overwinter potted roses
Many roses, like those in the Easy Elegance® collection, are bred to be winter hardy when grown in a garden, but when planted in containers, they’ll need a little extra help to overwinter successfully. The first step in winter preparation for container rose gardening is to stop fertilizing in late July. Too much food late in the season can encourage tender growth that may be damaged in winter. It’s also a good idea to stop deadheading spent blooms by early September. This will encourage strong wood and increased cold tolerance.
Once the leaves have dropped, it’s time to move the plant for winter. There are two options for overwintering a containerized rose:
1. Unheated shelter – The entire container can be moved to an unheated, but insulated location such as an attached garage, shed, or basement where the temperature stays around the freezing mark. Be sure to check the pot every month to see if the soil has dried out. If it’s dry to the touch, water sparingly.
2. Underground – Perhaps the easiest way to overwinter a potted rose is to sink the pot into the ground for the winter months. A vegetable garden with loose soil is the perfect spot, but anywhere you can dig deep enough to bury the pot is fine. Once the potted rose has been ‘planted’, mulch with several inches of straw or shredded leaves to insulate the plant. Pull it out in the spring, when the buds begin to swell.
We’d like to thank Easy Elegance® Roses for helping us spread the word about how easy container rose gardening can be! Click here to find an Easy Elegance® retailer near you.
Are you ready to grow roses in containers? Please tell us about it in the comment section below.
Great article. Thanks
Going to give it 6try this year. Have 2 concrete planters in perfect spot. Just need to drill drainage holes in them.
Thanks for very informative article.
Stephen McDonnell says
Your affiliate links to the roses don’t work.
Niki Jabbour says
All fixed, thank you. They’re not affiliate links though, just links to the website of the company. You’ll find these beautiful cultivars at your local nursery 🙂 – Niki
When you talk about moving the pots of roses in winter, given the very large pots required grow them hold so much potting mix each pot would probably weigh over 30kg, do you have any tips in moving a lot that heavy??
Also I grow mine on a roof terrace as part of a flat and therefore do not have a garage or the luxury of planting them in the ground. Do you have any top tips in wintering them?
Jessica Walliser says
If you can’t move them indoors, I suggest wrapping the outside of the pot with a layer of insulation. This can be in the form of a cylinder of wire filled with leaves or straw surrounding the pot, or perhaps a few layers of bubblewrap wrapped around the pot. It serves to insulate the roots and protect them from freeze-thaw cycles. As for moving heavy pots, I use a hand truck/dolly to move mine into the garage.
I am going to try using fabric pots this year; I am transplanting a rose bush and some other perennials. It wasn’t easy finding a large fabric container, but I got lucky. Much more earth-friendly than plastic. I hope it works!
Why would my potted rose through off all its leaves and what can i do to fix this
Niki Jabbour says
Great question! But it’s impossible to say without more information on your climate and how you’re growing the rose. Roses lose their leaves in autumn when they go dormant but they should leaf out again in spring. They lose their leaves during the growing season when they’re stressed – too dry, too wet, or pressure from diseases or insect pests. Good luck! Niki
Gladys Szalay says
I have my david austin roses in 30 inch wide and deep pots… The bottom looks a little bare… Do you have any suggestion as to what spilling plants I can plant with the roses in the same pot? I want it to look full but i dont want to risk putting in plants that would compete with the roses.
Niki Jabbour says
Hi Gladys, You could tuck in cascading annuals like bacopa, sweet alyssum, or nemesia. They’d add more color and interest without crowding out the rose. – Niki
How are our David Austin roses doing now, Gladys…
Just got a Champion Sunblush Rose,in a 20×14 pot on a roller base so it can be moved easily ,this is my first time trying roses in a pot, hopefully it does well.
Niki Jabbour says
Oh exciting!! Good luck 🙂
Great article. I just purchased a Julia Child rose & wanted to put in a container. What size would you recommend given they grow up to 3 ‘ wide & tall?
Hi, I need to buy a new rose shrub that will grow in a container (preferably fabric or ceramic) AND has a fine fragrance. The choices here look beautiful, but I wonder if they are as fragrant as some others, say, Tropicana? Any advice from anyone is very welcome.
I recently bought miniature roses. It came in plastic pot. Do I need to remove the plastic pot and then move it into a ceramic pot or it can be moved with the plastic one?
Niki Jabbour says
Hi Anu, We definitely recommend removing the rose from the plastic pot first. It will encourage healthy growth. Good luck! – Niki
I have a potted Rose & it is blooming again for the 3rd year. Winter hardy in the garage in a very cold Alberta climate.
Can you suggest a good support for the rise bush?
I’ve just been using some canes tied around with gardeners tape.
Niki Jabbour says
Hi Betty, that’s wonderful! Depending on the size and shape of the rose bush you may want to use something like a peony cage. It looks like a tomato cage, but wider to support perennial plants. Or you may want a compact trellis to go along the back of the pot. I’d suggest looking at your local garden centre (take a pic of the rose in the pot before you go so you can show them) or look online at LeeValley.com. They also have some plant supports. Hope that helps!! Niki
Sue B says
Hi! I have bought my first shrub rose to use in a container this summer. When would be the best time to plant it in the ground once the summer is over?
Niki Jabbour says
Hi Sue, that really depends on your location, but generally at least 6 to 8 weeks before the ground freezes. Good luck! Niki
Stella Zhang says
Hi, I’m wondering if we could grow roses in self-watering pots. Thank you very much.