Magazine article Sunset

Growing Roses in Containers

Magazine article Sunset

Growing Roses in Containers

Article excerpt

Growing roses in containers

Now's the time to start. Most of all, think about container size, soil mix, how you'll feed and water

Why bother growing roses in pots? Heavy, unworkable soil like Claudia Brotherton has in her San Diego garden is one good reason. Containers allow her to grow roses that she couldn't grow otherwise. More than 150 plants--miniatures, polyanthas, floribundas, hybrid teas, and grandifloras --thrive in her containers; one has syayed in the same pot for four years.

The photographs above show how Mrs. Brotherton prepares and plants bare-root roses. If you'd like to try her method, this is the time to plant.

Choose any favorite rose, or use the list at right to start. Smaller, more compact roses (miniatures, floribundas, polyanthas) are usually best if you're a beginner; they can also stay longer in containers.

Pot size and type. Before buying a container, consider the size, shape, and habit of the rose you intend to plant. For most of her roses, Mrs. Brotherton uses 18- to 20-inch Mexican clay pots. A typical 5-gallon plastic container (12 inches wide by 14 inches deep) is suitable for compact growers. Larger roses, such as tree roses, need bigger pots for proper proportion as well as for root space.

Wood has an advantage because it doesn't heat up on warm days. Half-barrels (23-inch inside diameter) provide plenty of root space for large roses, but they are heavy and awkward to move. Plastic containers keep moisture in longest.

Soil. Unamended garden soil rarely works well for growing roses in containers; roses prefer a faster-draining mix. You can buy packaged soil mix ($3 to $4 a cubic foot) or make your own (equal parts fine sand, peat moss, and fine fir bark make a good basic mix). Since the basic ingredients have little nutrient value, you'll need to add fertilizer right away if you make your own mix. Most packaged mixes include starter fertilizer.

Water. Mrs. Brotherton's roses are all watered by an automatic drip system. She uses spray-type emitters to wet the entire rootball. On hot summer days, she sets her system to come on twice a day for about 5 minutes each time; otherwise she waters needed. …

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