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Container-Grown Roses

Most rules on planting procedures that apply to in-ground roses will also apply to container-grown roses.


Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and Grandifloras will fit into half whiskey barrels, 10-15 gallon plastic pots or 24 inch or larger clay pots. Miniature Roses can grow well in 5-10 gallon plastic pots, 12-14-inch diameter clay pots, and some are suitable for hanging baskets.


Plan your "container garden" with the same "in-ground" site selection factors in mind. The roses will need a minimum of 6 hours a day of direct sun, and lots of water.


Garden centers sell "soil polymers"-- granules that absorb and hold water in the soil. Soil polymers, used in very small quantities, can keep a steady supply of water available to container-grown plants and extend the time between watering cycles. Mulching will improve retention.


Replace the soil in a container every 2 to 3 years to restore the organic content and to remove chemical residue from fertilizers and sprays. This is best done in December or January when the plant is dormant. Some rosarians successfully use a "soilless" soil in their containers consisting of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost and 1/3 perlite. This mixture is very porous and requires very frequent watering, especially in the summer months.


Growing roses in containers can avoid competition from tree roots. Use containers if you cannot locate the rose bed at least 25-50 feet away from trees. Tree roots love the water and nutrients and will invade the pots. Place rose containers on a concrete stone to lessen tree root problems.


Imperative: roses in pots must be watered daily during the hot, Austin summer months. Don't be afraid - you can't overwater them in a Texas summer!!


One way to reduce the amount of watering during the hot summer months is to dig a hole large enough to place the container, rose and all, in the hole. This reduces the soil temperature in the container, thus lowering the water requirements.


Use the container method if you want to train a climbing rose to grow into a tree. To avoid root competition, dig a hole near the tree, place the container in the hole, fill the container with soil and plant the rose in the soil. As the canes grow out, train them to grow up into the tree's limbs.


Leaching of nutrients from pots is a common problem. Fertilize with smaller amounts, but on a more frequent schedule. Read directions carefully and be aware of the time of year for temperature and type of fertilizer. Generally, feed roses every 2 weeks during the peak growing season and every 4 weeks during the hot July & August months.


Drip irrigation works well with containers. You must however, monitor the irrigation very carefully.


Dry or granular organic fertilizers may be used in containers, following the directions for pot containers. Water-soluble organic or time release fertilizers also work very well.


Remember: All pots, decorative or otherwise, must have drainage.


Remember: black pots absorb heat!