Growing roses in pots - ground cover rose 'Suffolk' in a pot

Growing roses in pots

Many roses will thrive in pots – follows our tips on getting the best results.

From compact shrub and patio roses to enormous ramblers, there are thousands of rose varieties to choose from. Many roses perform well in pots and containers, which means they can be grown in the smallest of spaces.

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It’s best not to grow rambling roses in pots. These are much more vigorous than other types of rose and would need a very large container to provide the root space needed to sustain their growth. Whichever rose you settle on, most roses will respond well to deadheading.

How to grow roses in pots

Grow compact roses in the largest pot you have space for, using loam based compost such as John Innes Number 2 or 3. Water regularly and feed with a general liquid fertiliser in spring and summer. In autumn, remove a couple of inches of compost from the top of the pot and replace with fresh compost, and mulch with well-rotted leaf mould, compost or manure. Prune in autumn or winter to maintain a balanced growing shape, with no crossing or diseased stems.

More on growing roses:

Follow our guide to growing roses in pots, below.


Which roses to grow in pots

Climbing rose 'Iceberg'
Roses in pots – climbing rose ‘Iceberg’

Roses for small pots

The obvious roses for container growing are patio or miniature types, which have been specifically bred for growing in pots and have shallower roots and compact growth. Choose a minimum pot size of 30cm x 30cm.

Varieties to try:

  • ‘Raspberry Royale’
  • ‘Stars ‘n’ Stripes’
  • ‘Anna Ford’
  • ‘Sweet Dream’

Roses for mid-size pots

Ground cover rose 'Suffolk'
Ground cover rose ‘Suffolk’

Ground cover roses and shorter climbing roses, which have been bred for growing on a patio, are bigger than miniature roses, but are still compact enough to do well in a container. Aim for a minimum pot size of 45cm x 45cm.

Varieties to try:

  • ‘Flower Carpet Coral’
  • ‘Suffolk’
  • ‘Nice Day’
  • ‘Robin Redbreast’

Roses for large pots

Rose 'Lady of Shalott'
Rose ‘Lady of Shalott’

If you want to grow bush, shrub or climbing roses in a pot, you’ll need a large container as these are vigorous plants. This is a much bigger investment in terms of pot and compost, but it’s vital if you want your rose to thrive for years to come. We recommend a minimum pot size of 60cm x 60cm.

Varieties to try:


Keeping pot-grown roses healthy

Ground cover rose 'Suffolk' growing in a container
Ground cover rose ‘Suffolk’ growing in a container
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  • Use loam-based composts for plants in long-term containers. This will ensure the pot won’t dry out too quickly, plus loam holds nutrients well
  • Keep on top of watering, especially in summer. Compost should be moist but not saturated
  • Raise pots up onto bricks or pot feet so excess water can drain away easily
  • Mix a dose of granular rose feed into the compost at planting. Each spring sprinkle more into the surface of the compost
  • Feed roses every couple of weeks through through the summer with a balanced liquid feed to keep the leaves healthy and promote flowering
  • Keep an eye out for aphids, as roses in pots are more vulnerable to pest attack. Squish them off with your fingers. Alternatively, there are sprays available
  • Top-dress your rose every other year in spring by removing the top 5cm of compost and replacing it with a fresh layer
  • Re-pot larger shrub, bush and climbing roses every two to three years into a pot bigger than previously used, and filled with fresh compost