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A Guide to Growing Roses in Pots

Growing roses in pots

This guide is part of our in-depth coverage into growing healthy potted plants, both inside and outside the home.

We recommend starting with Smart Tips for Growing Healthy Pot Plants at Home.

Then move on to our comprehensive guide to the best pot plants for the home gardener, starting with part one.

We have also published guides to Growing Palm Plants in Pots and to the Best Large Pot Plants for Privacy Screening Purposes

Growing shrub roses as potted house plants

Growing shrub roses in pots and containers has been a great joy for gardeners for hundreds of years.  

Indeed, growing roses in pots is a great way to start nurturing a rose garden.

Roses grow extremely well in pots, particularly when the conditions are favourable and they get some care.  You can keep a rose in a pot for 15 years and longer.   

A potted rose will flower just like a rose grown in the ground and be just as healthy, with a little care.  The large fragrant blooms develop throughout the warm seasons and can be cut to bring inside the home for cut flowers.

One of our favourite things about growing roses in pots is that you can move them inside your home when they are blooming and then out onto the deck when they are looking less glamorous.

The 3 main types of shrub roses suitable for pots:

There are 3 main types of shrub bush rose suitable for pots 1. Hybrid Tea 2. Floribunda 3. Patio roses .   

1. Hybrid Teas are taller growing roses and in a large pot would grow to over 1.5m, however can be kept lower.  

Hybrid tea roses have a fairly upright growing habit with thick stems, they also develop quite a few thorns.  The great thing about Hybrid tea roses is the large and perfumed flowers.  The flowers are best suited to use as cut flowers and are commonly used by florists. 

There are hundreds of varieties and colours.   Hybrid teas are best grown in very sunny spots. 

2. Floribunda shrub roses.  Floribunda are lower growing and more bushy roses plants, Floribunda roses will grow around 1m in a large pot, however can be kept around 70cm.  

This makes them a good choice when it comes to growing roses in pots.  They also have smaller and less thorns.  For growing in pots,  Floribunda would be the better choice over hybrid tea, for most situations.    

Floribunda roses flower profusely and have a long flowering period. There are hundreds of varieties and many still have a perfume.   There are varieties which are used as cut flowers. Floribunda roses are best grown in very sunny spots. 

3. Patio roses.   These are a group of roses of small to dwarf sizes (from 20cm up to 60cm) which flower well and are excellent for small pots.  

The flowers are small and dainty and numerous. There are many different flower colours, whites, oranges, pinks and reds. They are best grown in full sun, however many are quite adaptable and will take some shade during the day.   

Patio roses are the best roses to grow if you have a confined space, like a balcony. There are varieties of patio rose which suitable for cut roses and are commonly used by florists in arrangements.

Remember that roses are deciduous and will lose leaves in winter.  This means that for around 3 months or more of the year your rose will not have foliage or flowers.   However, floribunda roses and patio roses in some warmer regions will keep some leaf and continue to flower through winter. 

Most roses will generally grow in cool temperate, temperate and warm temperate climates.

Are you thinking of planting a hedge in your garden? See our Best Hedging Plants Guide for some suggestions.

Growing Hybrid Tea roses in pots & containers

Hybrid tea roses are best suited to growing in larger style pots.   

Remember that growing roses in pots has the same limitations as any other plant.

They can grow quite large, from 1m to 2m tall.  They also develop large thorns as they get older.  When it comes to flowers, they produce the best in our opinion. Although there are not always masses of flowers, the flowers are the biggest and the most perfumed of the shrub roses to grow in pots.  

Hybrid tea roses are best grown in an open sunny spot outside.   

Growing roses in pots - Hybrid Tea Rose Citrus

Care of Hybrid tea roses in pots:   

Hybrid Tea roses are pretty hardy roses, but they will need a little care to create the best display.  

Watering is one of the most important issues,   they can dry out quite quickly in smaller pots, in most summer conditions watering once every two days may be required, but this could be reduced to twice a week in temperatures under 25 degrees. If you find that you have forgotten to water your rose and it has died back, many times they will regenerate with some care.  

Using a seaweed based tonic regularly will help them regenerate and keep healthy. When planting your Hybrid Tea rose use a good quality potting mix and a slow release fertiliser.   

Fertiliser is important when growing healthy Hybrid Tea roses:

They will need regular fertilising to keep them healthy and flowering.  Fertilising will also assist in pest resistance.  You can purchase specialised rose foods, these fertilisers can be used once every 6 weeks.  

If you use a general purpose food, an application once in spring and summer is usually enough.   Slow release fertilisers are also very handy for fertilising rose plants in pots.  Just use a small amount as a top dress (follow instructions),  every time you water a small amount of slow release is dispersed by this fertiliser.  

Liquid fertilisers are also excellent for growing rose pot plants, once a week during the growing season is optimum.  If you find that your potting mix is not holding water well, or drying out quickly, give your pot plants a few applications of wetting agent.

Pruning your Hybrid Tea rose (including Floribunda roses)

Pruning should occur at a number times of the year. Winter is the correct time to do any major pruning which involves the thick woody canes of the plant.  The soft stems can be pruned during the growing season. This will improve the bushy nature of the rose.  

A practice known as “Dead heading” will improve flowering.   This is a process of removing old flower heads after flowering.   This can be a continuous process as the individual flowers develop and die.   Alternatively, it can be done all at one time, in flushes.  

The whole rose bush is trimmed to remove all the flower heads, the new flower heads then developing and flowering in a “flush”, which will occur in a cycle.  Floribunda roses respond particularly well to this type of “Dead heading”.   

rose Pests To Look Out For: 

Hybrid Tea (and Floribunda) roses do get some pests, but the most important way to avoid pests, is to keep your roses healthy.  Make sure you position your rose in a sunny spot, the amount of foliage and flowers will also depend on getting sufficient sun.  

Aphids are the most common pest, they appear on the new growth particularly in spring and autumn. Aphids are easy to control, you can use a systemic insecticide or use a knock down like pyrethrum and garlic.   

Scale insects will develop over the years, these reduce the vigour of the plant.  Scales are small white or black lumps which appear on the rose stems and they suck the sap of the plant.   Scales can be controlled by insecticides, most “Rose sprays” control scale. Low toxic sprays like white oil plus pyrethrum will also fix them.

The other most common pest on hybrid Tea (and Floribunda) roses are the mildews.  

These are fungal problems and usually show up as a black dust on the leaves and stems.   The most usual is “black spot” which usually develops as spots on the leaves, in very humid conditions, particularly in autumn. You can purchase fungicides for rose “black spot”.  

Most fungal problems can be controlled by using a single fungicide as they are all very similar in nature.   Growing your rose in full sun conditions will reduce the occurrence of fungus,  including “black spot”, as the fungus does not like sun light. 

Black spot also occurs as the plant loses leaf going into winter, in most regions there is no need to control it at that stage.  If you get it during the growing season it is worth controlling, as it can spread to other roses.

Wondering which Citrus would work best in your garden? See our Ultimate Citrus Guide for some advice.

Floribunda rose potted house plants

Floribunda rose plants make great outdoor potted house plants.

They are free flowering and generally pretty low maintenance.  Some also have perfume.  Plants normally grow from around 70cm to 1m in a pot.  It is advisable to use a larger pot, however they will grow in small pots. 

Floribunda roses generally develop masses of flower.  The flowers are smaller than the Hybrid Tea, but more numerous. 

When pruned correctly Floribunda roses form a rounded bush, which suits low rounded pots.  Giving the Floribunda roses a light prune keeps the plant compact and will assist in flower development. 

It is advisable to prune only the soft outer stems during the growing season and “dead head” the plant regularly after flowering. 

Hard pruning is best done during winter when the plant is dormant (or partially dormant for some areas).  For more information of care and pruning please refer to our previous article on care of Hybrid Tea roses, as they are very similar. 

Growing roses in pots - Rosebush, floribunda rose, in the garden

Growing miniAture Patio rose pot plants

Many miniature patio roses have been specially developed to grow in pots. 

Growing roses in pots doesn’t get much easier than these!

They are small compact roses with small flowers.  Most patio roses grow from around 20cm to 50cm.  There are a large number of types and colours. 

The great thing about these little roses is that they do not need much care and are easier to look after than their larger cousins.  They can also take a little more shade, which makes them great for verandas, patios and balconies. 

Growing Patio rose house plants can be very rewarding, the little plants can help create a happy and positive atmosphere.

Care of Patio rose pot plants:  

Patio roses have thin stems and small leaves, once pruned into shape they form a nice little compact shape.  Unlike larger roses they do not need to be pruned or “Dead headed” regularly. 

However, is worth giving them a light prune a couple of times during the growing season.  This revitalises the plant and helps in the development of new flower heads.  Winter pruning can be done, but most times is not required, the summer pruning be sufficient. 

Pot your patio rose into a good, well drained potting mix and use some slow release fertiliser.  Watering is important, most issues gardeners have with patio roses are to do with too much or too little water. 

So, monitor your plants carefully to maintain even moisture levels.  Remove any saucers under the pot during winter as they keep the potting mix too wet.

Fertiliser is important when growing patio roses, they do need regular feeding.  Use a slow release fertiliser and or a liquid fertiliser.  Liquid fertilisers (with NPK) given once a week or fortnight will keep your plant grow at optimum levels. 

Use a seaweed tonic now and then, to help activate the potting mix and plant growth. 

Pests are not a major issue for patio roses.  They only seem to get pests when they are not growing under good conditions. 

If you are seeing pests, then as a first step ensure that the plant is getting adequate sun light.  The common pests that cause problems are Aphids and Mildews, and so please refer to the paragraph on ‘care of Hybrid Teas’ above for for ways to control them. 

Patio roses are not normally particularly long living, most will last around 5 years or more.

Growing Stardard Topiary roses in pots

What is a standard rose ?  

Standard roses are roses which have been pruned into a topiary shape.  The stem is long and thin and all the foliage is at the top, in a bunch.  The result is a rose that looks like a small tree. 

Standard roses make very good potted house plants.  Growing standard roses in pots is very popular around the world.  For many people, when they think of growing roses in pots, it is the standard rose that they hold in their mind’s eye.

Both Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses are used to make standards.  Our favourite is the standard Floribunda rose.  The bushy nature and free flowering of these varieties makes them look great in pots.  

Care of standard rose pot plants:  

The care of Standard rose pot plants is the same for caring for most roses (as described above in our section on Hybrid Tea roses). 

However, pruning is more important.  Pruning of Standard roses is a constant process to maintain the standard shape.  

Remove any growth that may develop from the base or the stem.  Also, keep a check on the growth on the head of the plant.  Trimming of spent flowers and maintaining shape should be done approximately once every two weeks.  This usually only takes 5 minutes per plant for smaller standards. 

Some people even like to use hedge trimmers on them, which are particularly useful on Floribunda roses (not so much on Hybrid teas). 

Make sure that you plant your Standard rose in to a large size pot as wind can blow them over easily.  You may also like to use a wooden stake, to stop the stem from breaking under windy conditions. 

Growing climbing roses in pots

Climbing roses grow well in pots. 

If you have a bare post on a veranda or patio, which needs brightening up,  then a climbing rose could be the solution.  It is very often the case that you are unable to plant a climbing rose into the ground around a post, and, in this instance, a potted rose could be the best alternative. 

There are hundreds of different varieties of climbing rose.  There will be one suited to your taste and situation.  

When choosing a climbing rose for a pot, pick one which has thin stems and can be easily pruned.  Many times you will need to prune your climbing rose regularly to maintain size and shape.  You can prune the soft new growth during the growing season and the woody growth during winter. 

Most climbing roses will flower throughout spring, summer and autumn.  However, in winter they will lose leaves and go dormant.  This can be a drawback, however,  in some particularly cold climates growing a climbing rose in a pot is the best alternative. 

Also, should you have a difficult spot which gets plenty of sun in summer and little sun in winter,  then a climbing rose is often an excellent solution.

Growing roses in pots - a pink climbing rose in a garden

Care of climbing roses in pots:  

Care of your potted climbing rose is much the same as a shrub rose.  Make sure you use a large pot to grow your climbing rose and use a good quality potting mix.  Using a slow release fertiliser when planting will assist your plant to establish. 

Pests usually include aphids, caterpillars, scales and sometimes fungal issues like black spot.  Most of these pests are seasonal.  Generally if you keep your plant healthy most of these pest issues can be endured by the plant, naturally. 

There are also general pest control sprays with names like “rose spray”, which can fix the majority of pests. 

Pruning is one activity which will need to be done now and then on your climbing rose.  One of the most important actions is to create a “frame work” for your leaf and flowers to develop on. 

Although most climbing roses produce long arching stems, they are not self-twining, they will need help to attach themselves to a post or trellis.  You will need to tie them on and guide them to create the shape you want.   Pick a few dominant stems to use as your main trucks, these will become your ‘framework’ on which new growth will develop on. 

Once your climbing rose has reached your intended height and size, it is a process of pruning excess growth back to the main stem framework each year.  Most of this hard pruning, of the hardwood is done in winter.  Soft stems new growth can be cut back in summer.   

With regard to flowers, pruning off old flowers will enhance the development of new flowers.  This is called “dead heading” of roses.  You can leave old flower heads on the plant if you wish, but it will only slow down the development of new flowers.

Fertilising your climbing roses in the spring is a good way to produce new growth and flowers.  Many times plants grown in pots require regular fertilising to stay healthy and will need to be fed a number of times during the season. 

You can use a small amount of “rose food” every 6 weeks or a liquid NPK fertiliser every two weeks. 

Slow release fertilisers are an easy way to fertilise, most release for around 3 months.  If you find that your climbing rose is not growing well use some seaweed based tonic to activate the potting mix and root growth. 

We hope this article encourages you to experiment with growing roses in pots.

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