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Growing roses in containers.

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.

How often you'll need to water depends on the weather, the size of the pot, the soil mix, and the size and condition of the plant. Feel the soil; water when it's dry to the touch 1 inch below the surface.

Fertilizer. Watch and judge how well the rose grows. Healthy green leaves, vigorous growth, and plenty of flowers mean fertilizer is adequate; slow or off-color growth usually indicates not enough fertilizer.

Most rose growers use either a granular slow-release fertilizer three or four times a season or a dilute liquid fertilizer with each watering.

Repotting. Repotting is usually necessary every two to three years, though some roses grow well much longer in their containers. Main sign of overgrowth is a plant failing to respond to fertilizer. When roses are dormant, knock them out of their containers; prune roots, discard old soil, and replant.

Winter protection. In coldest climates (where temperatures dip to 20| and hold for three or more days), roses growing in containers are susceptible to damage. If possible, move pots to a protected spot, such as a garage or storage shed, for the coldest months. Don't let soil dry out; check frequently and water if necessary.

Photo: 1. Prune roots so all fit into pot without bending or twisting. Cut away any broken portions

Photo: 2. After filling pot halfway, build and then firm a cone of soid to fit under the pruned root system

Photo: 3. Spread roots over cone. Check final height of plant in pot; set so bud union (swelling where rose was budded to its rootstock) is level with pot rim

Photo: 4. Add remaining soil, firming it as you go, until pot is filled to about 1 inch from rim

Photo: 5. Water until pot drains, then water again. Add more soil if necessary. Make sure soil is thoroughly wetted

Photo: Roses thrive in low bowls, tapered pots, and straight-sided pots in Claudia Brotherton's San Diego garden. To keep roots from anchoring in soil below, pots rest on aggregate concrete pads; lava rock is spread between
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1985
Words:710
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