Make Room for Roses in Your Small Space Garden

Lucy Mercer
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Make a small space bloom when you plant roses in containers. Growing roses in containers gives you flexibility and portability. You can move the pots toward the best light and shelter them when the weather gets rough.

Choose wisely, nurture them, and they will reward with colorful flowers throughout the season. 

To get the beauty of roses for your porch, patio or balcony, select small to mid-size varieties and choose a good-sized pot.

Hardy, disease-resistant Knockout Roses are a natural choice for containers. If you have room, look for a trailing rose that can be trained along a fence or balcony rail, or upright on a trellis for a touch of the country in the city.

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Trailing roses include ramblers and climbers. The main difference between the two is that ramblers flower once, while climbers flower from spring through fall.

Neither grows on vines, but on canes that may be bent and attached to structures such as a fence, trellis or arbor.

HOW TO PLANT A ROSE IN A CONTAINER

  • Choose a large container, at least 12 inches wide and deep. Larger rose varieties need containers at least 16 inches wide. Whiskey barrel planters work well.
  • Create drainage if the container doesn’t have drainage holes. 
  • Use potting mix from the Garden Center, or mix up your own from equal parts composted manuretop soil and pine bark mini nuggets
  • When planting, fill the container ¾ full with potting mix, then shape into a mound that is no taller than 2 inches below the rim of the pot.
  • Spread the roots of the rose over the mound and top with more potting mix right up to the bud union, the place where the cane was grafted onto the root stock.
  • Thoroughly water the planted rose, but wait a few weeks before fertilizing.

If you have a large enough container, fill it out with companion plants. Roses play well with perennial herbs like lavender, and you can’t beat the combination of purple lavender and red or pink or peach roses.

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In the fall, tuck daffodil, crocus and tulip bulbs down into the soil in the container for late winter blooms next year. Marigolds, begonias and other annuals make fine companions, just be sure to choose plants that won’t compete for water (or water accordingly) and won’t spread too much.

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TIPS FOR SUCCESS WITH ROSES IN CONTAINERS

  • Drainage: Like all container plants, roses need good drainage. Make sure the container has adequate drainage holes and add a layer of gravel or pine bark nuggets to the base of the container when planting. Don’t place the container in a dish to catch water, instead prop the finished container on a plant caddy, plant stand or pavers to ensure air circulation and keep out pests.
  • Water: Roses like water, but there are so many variables at play that it’s difficult to say how much water your container roses will need. Keep an eye on the plants and touch the soil in the container every few days — if it’s dry an inch down, it’s time to water. As the summer heats up, expect to water the roses every day that you don’t have rain, less so as days cool down.
  • Fertilizer: Give newly planted roses about a month before beginning a fertilizer regimen, then follow through with regular applications throughout the season to encourage blooms and healthy growth.
  • Training on a trellis or fence: Climbers and ramblers will grow more full if trained horizontally rather than vertically. Unlike vines, which have tendrils to grasp a support, roses need to be tied to a trellis using plant ties.

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