Roses for Outdoor Containers by Carol Edwards

23 Nov 2021 11:39 AM | Anonymous


Choose a small, compact rose. Before purchasing, check the mature height and width of the rose, which you can find on the label or with an internet search. Miniature and Mini-Flora (slightly larger) roses are good choices because they remain small at maturity. Floribunda, Polyantha, and Shrub roses can be appropriate for large containers. Although most small roses have a shrubby form, miniature climbing roses are available. Roses appropriate for container growing come in many colors and flower forms, from singles to many-petalled. Some are fragrant. Select disease resistant rose varieties if you do not want to use chemical insecticides or fungicides. Join the Potomac Rose Society and get ongoing advice from our members! With a bit of research, you are sure to find roses that you will like.


Choose a large sturdy container, one that can remain outdoors during the winter. Plant Miniature and Mini-Flora roses in containers that are at least 2’ wide x 2’ deep, and Floribunda, Polyantha, or Shrub roses in containers that are 3’ x 3’.  Choose a sunny location for your container, with good air circulation. The good news is that you can move the container as needed.


To plant your rose, use high quality potting soil, preferably without pre-mixed fertilizer. Place a layer of soil in the bottom of the pot. Make sure that the soil drains well. You may want to drill a few extra drainage holes in the bottom of the container before potting and add some perlite or expanded slate to the potting mix to improve drainage. Spread the roots of the rose and fill the remainder of the pot with soil.  If the rose is grafted, add enough soil to cover the bud union.


Check your roses frequently to make sure they are well watered—an inch or two per week. During hot, dry spells it may be necessary to water your containers more frequently than normal. Container grown roses need fertilizing—three to four times between April and September. A slow release granular fertilizer supplemented with a liquid fertilizer, like fish emulsion, during the summer months should keep your disease resistant rose healthy. Read and follow directions; more is not better! If you have deer, fence your containers or spray the roses with repellent. Remove spent blooms and dead wood as needed. Prune your container roses lightly in the spring if needed, just as you would roses planted in the ground.


In the winter it may be necessary to protect your container grown roses during cold spells. Remember that roses need sun and some humidity all year, so do not plan to winter your roses indoors unless you have a greenhouse.  Try surrounding your pots with hay bales and leaves. Move the container to a protected spot, sheltered from wind and, if possible, near a brick wall that may radiate heat during the daytime. Even during winter roses will need water. During a prolonged dry spell, you may need to water the container, but make sure that the temperature will be above freezing for a couple of days afterwards. To protect the container from cracking, make sure that the bottom is off the ground or patio so it does not ice over.  Most nurseries carry pot feet for this purpose.


  • Bordeaux Cityscape, red, Floribunda, Kordes
  • Cecile Brunner, pink, Polyantha, EarthKind
  • Dr. Gary Rankin, orange blend, Miniature, Richard J. Anthony
  • Fire Opal Colorscape, cream to pink coral, Floribunda, Kordes
  • Gourmet Popcorn, white, Shrublet, Weeks
  • Marie Daly, pink, Polyantha, EarthKind
  • Olivia Rose Austin, pink, Shrub, David Austin
  • Roxy, bright pink, Miniature, Kordes
  • Scarborough Fair, pink, Shrub, David Austin
  • Sunglow, yellow, Mini-Flora, Wells Mid-South
  • The Fairy, pink, Polyantha, EarthKind

Internet mail order sources for listed roses:  Antique Rose EmporiumChamblee NurseryDavid Austin RosesForLoveofRosesK&M NurseryNorthland Rosarium