What size pots should I use for these roses?

tuderte(USDA 9a equiv.)May 4, 2014

I've just received a delivery of six old roses that I want to plant in my 'old rose garden'.

The roses are -

Lady Hillingdon (Tea - shrub)
Souvenir de la Malmaison (Bourbon - shrub)
Safrano (Tea - shrub)
Old Blush (China - shrub)
Sombreuil (Large flowered - climber)
Mlle. Cecile Brunner (Polyantha - shrub)

All the roses are, more or less, the same size as the Lady Hillingdon seen in the attached photo.

My only problem is that, because of the 'wettest Winter ever' in my part of the world and the constant rain all through Spring, the planting holes for the 'old rose garden' will now have to wait until Autumn to be dug.

All the roses have been delivered in 2.5 litre plastic pots. They are all 'own root' roses and have been grown in the pots in which they were delivered. I fear that these pots will be inadequate to see the roses through our hot, dry Summer.

I read in the 'Plastic Pots' thread by 'mauvegirl8' that Nik (nikthegreek) says he grows upwards of 40 roses in containers.

Nik, if you read my post, could you please advise me on what you consider an appropriate size container to use for the roses to see me through until, at least, the end of the year?

My local farm supply store stocks standard conical terracotta pots for very reasonable prices i.e. 25cm (10 inch) pots with a capacity of 6.7 litres (1.8 US gallons) cost 2.50 euro - if that's too small, they have many other sizes up to 37cm (14.5 inch) with a capacity of 18 litres (4.75 gallons) for 6.50 euro.

I would welcome any advice from people growing their old garden roses in containers as to what size containers they use.


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seil zone 6b MI

I'm up to 76 roses in pots now and have been keeping roses permanently in pots for going on 10 years. I've learned a few things along the way. Do yourself and your roses a favor and don't get terracotta pots. Find some light colored plastic or the newer foam/resin type pots In your zone 9 you're going to have more problems with heat than cold. The lighter colors keep the roots cooler. You can't imagine how much a terracotta pot full of wet soil and a full grown rose weighs! And terracotta will actually rob your roses of moisture because it absorbs it and then won't release to the rose when needed. It also provides little or no insulation for the roots.

But actually if you're planting them this fall and they are all about that size now you really don't need huge pots to start with. I wouldn't go any bigger than about a 3 gallon pot size. That should be more than adequate for this summer season. I've found that when potting up new band size roses if I go right to their permanent larger sized pot without any up sizing in between the roses suffer and don't do as well. I'm not sure why that is but it's true. If I gradually pot them up into slightly bigger pots over time they seem to be healthier and stronger in the process. In my zone I would only go up to a 1 gallon pot to start with but in your zone they're probably going to grow larger quicker so that's why I suggested the 3 gallon size.

You've picked out some real beauties and I hope to see photos of them all when they get established for you!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:03PM
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tuderte(USDA 9a equiv.)

Many thanks for such a quick response seil, that's a very impressive number of pots - do you have them on a drip irrigation system?

You're right - the heat in Summer is the problem here - Winters don't get below -5C (roughly 25F) here and this past Winter wasn't cold at all - I don't believe it was below zero (Celsius) once. However, it simply rained for the entire Winter :-(

To give me an idea - would a 3 gallon size pot be about 13 inches diameter x about the same height?


    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:03PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Three gallons is about the size of a bucket you'd use to wash floors with so 13 x 13 sounds about right. I kept full grown roses a whole summer in buckets while we were working on the bed they were in and they did great.

No, I don't have any drip systems. I water them by hand with the hose. It takes me about an hour to do the pots and couple of hours to do my whole garden. Ii like to be out with them and it gives me a chance to look each one over and keep an eye on how they're doing.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 4:14PM
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alameda/zone 8

I did an experiment this spring. I got a rose from a company that was not the right rose, and I already had this rose. They sent the correct rose. I thought I would put the extra band rose in a 3 gallon pot instead of starting it off in a one gallon to see if there was any growth difference. The extra rose started in the bigger pot has made a bigger growth effort than the same size bands I have usually potted in one gallon pots. I use the black nursery pots that I have a lot of. I wouldn't do this with a shrimpy little band that I know would need the smaller pot, but these bigger healthier bands I think might be able to go right into a 3 gallon pot. Of course it might have just been that particular rose......

Seil is in a cooler climate - I note that you are in zone 9, which is quite a bit hotter. Here in Texas, I protect my potted band roses in the heat of summer - I don't leave them out in the hot afternoon sun - they get morning sun and then are shaded from the blast furnace heat we always get in Texas in the hot summer. And don't put them on concrete either - the heat will get them. Good luck, I love growing in pots - love to watch their progress.

I have also started putting 6 of those little plastic edging tiles together to form an edging around my bare root roses when I plant them. That way, water goes right to the roots and they get their fair share - so important in the heat of summer. Found that I can removed these the next year, roots are more established. Also, when it comes time to feed them, the fertilizer goes to the roots where it is supposed to. But I don't fertilize much - fish emulsion, kelp, seaweed, and usually half strength, and only when they are up and growing well - and only after watering.

By the way, what company did you order your roses from? They look very nice.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 5:14PM
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nikthegreek(9b/10a E of Athens, Greece)

Good advice by both previous posters here. Providing a larger pot will be better for the plants but the additional cost and the additional problem at transplant time are not worth it if the roses are going in the ground in fall. If on the other hand the roses may remain in the pots for a couple of seasons, quite larger pots will be required.

Just one comment about teracotta vs plastic. One advantage of porous teracotta is that they actually keep the roots cooler in the heat than plastic. So one has to weigh the disadvantages, which include having to water more often against this advantage. Practicality usually wins.

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Mon, May 5, 14 at 1:23

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:14AM
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tuderte(USDA 9a equiv.)

Thank you Seil, Judith and Nik for your replies - all my other roses are on a drip irrigation system so I don't need to worry about watering them.

Because I only have half a dozen of these roses to care for I think I will go with the terracotta pots (anything to help keep the roots cooler during our ferocious Summer heat) - I have an area where I can comfortably keep the pots - it gets sun from sunrise (shortly after 5am) until around 2pm - most importantly, it is completely protected from the really hot afternoon sun ⦠and I have a hose that will reach there, too.

Thank you everyone for your advice!


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:15AM
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