Growing Roses In Containers: Tips For Rose Gardening In Pots 

Roses are famed for their classically elegant look and their oversized blooms that often exude a rich and heady fragrance. Most gardeners grow roses in inground gardens, using smaller rose varieties as natural borders for flower beds and larger roses as statement plants in rose gardens. But if you don’t have much room in your yard for roses or you simply want to enjoy beautiful roses on your patio, porch, or balcony, you may want to try growing roses in containers instead!

Not only do container roses give you more planting options, but keeping potted roses can reduce plant pests and allow you to grow your favorite rose flowers in gardens with poor or rocky soils. Discover what types of roses grow well in pots, the best pots to use, and other tips in this beginner-friendly guide on keeping container-grown roses.

Growing Roses in Containers 

A white rose in a terra cotta pot grows on the edge of a garden.
Photo courtesy of David Austin Roses. If you haven’t checked out their roses, you’re in for a treat. We want all of them!

Choosing Roses 

Selecting the best roses for container gardens is key if you want to keep healthy plants without much effort. Climbing and large roses tend to be too demanding for container gardens, while miniature roses, groundcover roses, tree roses, and patio roses are some of the best picks for small spaces.

You can often grow small shrub roses and popular rose varieties like English roses and hybrid tea roses in containers too – just be sure to choose large pots to accommodate their roots.

Aside from plant size, it’s also important to consider rose color, fragrance, and other factors that make roses appealing. Reblooming roses and disease-resistant plants can be especially easy and rewarding to keep.

33 of our favorite roses for containers are showcased here and listed by color. Happy browsing!

Choosing Containers for Roses 

If you want to use potted roses as a focal point on patios and porches, colorful ceramic containers and concrete planters can be particularly appealing. However, roses can also be kept in planters made of terra cotta, plastic, wood, or stone, as long as they have plenty of drainage holes to prevent soggy roots. If you have a planter with a solid base that you love, consider drilling some drainage holes with a power drill and masonry drill bit to keep your roses happy.

Since roses have deep roots, it’s best to use tall planters that provide plenty of room for their roots to grow. Miniature types of roses can usually fit in window boxes or a 2 to 3 gallon pot, while drift roses will thrive in a 3 to 5 gallon container, and larger plants like ‘Knock Out’ roses will do best in 10 to 15 gallon planters. Choosing larger pots with wheels or adding a wheeled base beneath planters can make it easier to move larger containers around as needed.

Soil & Amendments for Rose Container Gardening 

Roses are heavy feeders under any circumstance, but their nutrient needs are even higher in container gardens. While garden plants can seek out nutrients deep in the soil with their roots, potted roses are entirely dependent on the nutrients we give them. So, it’s even more important to stick to a regular schedule when fertilizing container plants!

When you first plant roses in pots, steer clear of granular fertilizers and potting mixes with added fertilizer. These products can build up in container gardens, and burn rose roots. Instead, amend potting mixes with compost or well-rotted manure before planting, and then fertilize your roses approximately once every 4 to 6 weeks throughout the growing season with an organic liquid fertilizer, like fish emulsion.

Here’s information on how to feed your roses organically & naturally.

A grouping of beautiful Julia Child Roses in many shades of yellow.
If you like roses the color of butter, “Julia Child” is for you. This rose grows about 4 feet tall, so it’ll need a larger container.

Proper Planting Techniques 

When you’re ready to plant, carefully remove your roses from their nursery containers and gently tease apart their roots to encourage healthy root development. If you’re growing bare root roses, soak the roots in water for several hours before planting.

Partially fill your planting container with a rich and well-draining potting mix amended with compost or aged manure. Mounding up a bit of soil in the center of your pot can help support bare root roses and make them easier to plant. Ensure that the top of the rose root ball is an inch or two below the pot’s rim, fan out the rose roots around the pot as needed, and then backfill the pot with soil so that the top of the soil level is even with the root ball of the plant.

Add a two-inch layer of natural bark mulch over the soil surface to prevent weeds and insulate the soil so it doesn’t dry out too quickly. Then, water your new rose plants deeply and move them into a location where they’ll receive six or more hours of sun per day.

Care and Maintenance

After planting, roses will need a proper balance of light, fertilizer, and water to grow. Remember, roses need at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily, so be sure to locate your plants in a sunny spot!

Watering schedules can vary throughout the year depending on temperature and weather patterns; however, in general, roses need about 1” of water per week. Potted plants may need daily watering in hot climates, and plants will be healthier if you water them in the morning and direct your hose at the soil line to keep plant leaves dry. If you’re not sure if it’s time to water, feel the soil and water when the top 1 to 2” of soil feels dry.

Watering at the soil line can help prevent diseases like black spot and powdery mildew, but you can also keep these problems at bay by pruning away diseased and damaged foliage as soon as possible. Pruning early in the season can also be used to shape potted roses and deadheading spent blooms will boost flowering. 

While you’re pruning, check your plants for pests like sawflies, aphids, and spider mites, which can be treated with a strong blast from your garden hose and applications of organic insecticidal soap spray. 

When fertilizing roses, organic liquid fertilizers are usually the best choice as they’re less likely to burn delicate plant roots. Apply fertilizers approximately once every 4 to 6 weeks for best results. And don’t forget to repot your plants every 2 to 3 years to refresh the soil and give plants more room to grow.

Here are 23 of the best flowers for pots that bloom all summer. Roses are on this list!

A close-up of Plum Perfect Rose flowers in beautiful shades of light purple.
What a beauty “Plum Perfect” is! Photo courtesy of Heirloom Roses

Winter Protection 

Most roses are relatively hardy when planted in garden beds. However, because their roots are more exposed, container-grown roses usually need extra winter protection to survive the winter months. 

If you live in a mild climate, mulching over your plant’s roots may be all that’s needed. However, in areas with cold winters, you may want to move potted roses indoors or into greenhouses before winter arrives. If you go this route, check your plants over carefully to ensure they aren’t harboring pests!

Alternatively, you can keep potted roses outdoors until they drop their leaves and then bring them into a protected location, like an unheated garage, where they’ll stay cool but not freeze. Simply water the plants sparingly about once a month to keep them from drying out, and move them back outside when spring arrives. 

For an even lower maintenance option, keep potted roses outdoors during the winter but bury their pots in soil for extra insulation. Since soils are usually quite loose in veggie gardens, you can bury rose pots in your vegetable beds and add mulch around the roots for added insulation. When temperatures warm in spring, simply dig up your potted roses and care for them as usual!

Companion Planting

Companion planting is commonly used on edible crops to boost plant growth and repel pests. However, this natural gardening technique can also be used on roses to control pests like aphids, sawflies, and spider mites.

Chives and other alliums are particularly good plant partners for roses since they repel an assortment of pests, including nematodes and Japanese beetles.

Flowering herbs and plants like yarrow, marigolds, and larkspur are also fantastic companion plants that can distract pests away from rose blooms and attract beneficial insects, like parasitic wasps and hoverflies, that will control garden pests for you!

A close up of orange & yellow marigold flowers.
Jazzy marigolds are good companion plants for roses & can help distract pests.

Roses love a lot of sunlight. If you’re looking for annuals to plant seasonally with roses, check out these 28 flowers for full sun.

Common Issues With Roses 

Aside from aphids, spider mites, and other plant pests, roses can occasionally develop other issues like powdery mildew and leaf spot. These fungal diseases can spoil the look and health of rose plants, but they can often be prevented with proper plant spacing, pruning, and regular watering.

Overwatering roses can also produce problems, like drooping or wilted stems, yellow or brown leaves, and root rot. If your plants exhibit these signs and their soil feels soggy, reduce watering and consider repotting them to refresh the soil.

If roses stop blooming, it may be time to repot your roses as well. After all, container-grown roses do best when they’re repotted every 2 to 3 years. However, if your plant’s leaves also display visible veining, they may be nutrient deficient, which can be fixed with the right fertilizer.


While you may simply enjoy growing roses as ornamental plants, you can also grow potted roses for cut flowers and make your own homemade rose bouquets!

For cut roses that last, harvest roses in the early morning when the flowers are still in the bud stage and their petals are just beginning to unfurl. Ideally, cut flowers should have at least 12” long stems, but stems from potted or miniature plants may be shorter. Cut stems at a slight angle with sterilized pruners just above a leaf node, remove the lower leaves, and place your cut flowers in water as soon as possible to prevent wilting.

Conclusion: Growing roses in containers has many perks, but it’s also one of the best ways to expand your growing space and spruce up drab patios and porches with more of your favorite plants. Once you have your roses potted up just the way you like, use them to accentuate garden walkways or place them around your deck for an extra pop of color.

With their bold beauty and bright colors, roses never go out of style, and potted plants will look right at home just about anywhere!

Happy Gardening,


Lauren Landers is a Master Gardener and gardening writer living in Maine. After running a small organic farm in New England for several years, Lauren transitioned to freelance writing and loves helping others discover the beauty of organic and pollinator gardening!

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