I am finding animosity in regards to container gardening

July 9, 2010

and I was wondering WHY it is that people say you cannot grow certain plants, like roses, in containers? I really don't understand why I catch such flack for the fact that I have over 40 roses in pots, and they are doing ten times better then the ones I have in the ground. Faster growing, healthier foliage, more flowers. I think its because I can control the soil and their nutrients and water intake so well to each plants needs versus plants in the ground. I can cater to each plants specific likes and dislikes this way. I have some roses that are 4-5 foot tall and 3-4 foot wide growing in planters about 4-5 gallon sized. I have no problems, but other forum member say things like "no rose in a pot is going to do as well as one in the ground" quite often. My flowers are doing really well in my eyes....

This is from last fall


and this is now


I had to make 3 rows instead of one and really need to spread them out more....I guess I am just trying to figure out WHY thse who do things differently than me think their way is better and am looking for some encouragement. LOL

I have learned a lot about soil, water and fertilizer from this forum...thanks for all your insight!

Comments (24)

  • Suzi AKA DesertDance So CA Zone 9b

    Aside from controlling water and nutrients, you also have the advantage of taking your plants with you if you move!! I'm pretty sure most things grow fine in pots (or we wouldn't have nurseries). I have very little ground space, and I wanted a big vineyard, so I'm growing grapevines in both containers and ground. They are all doing just fine!!

    My roses are in ground. Some do better than others, and there is one spot that NOTHING will grow. Not sure why, but it's next to the pool, so maybe the salt system contaminated that soil. I fear putting a container there because what if that yucky soil leaches up? Or the roots go down? See, all soil isn't that good!!

    Who's giving you flack?

    Good luck!

  • col_sprg_maters

    Me thinks it is more about psychology than about gardening.

    People driving SUV's don't give much credit to folks who decide to convert to the Smart Car either.

    Religion and politics that way too.

    Its just people.


  • PRO

    How "well" your plants, or any one's plants are doing is a very subjective thing. I just commented on a thread yesterday where a person insisted that a relative had trees in the same soil in the same pot for 15 years and they were doing "well", which can't be true; but in your case, it looks like your plants are doing just fine, so I'm siding with you.

    I'm certain that with a little attention to the cultural requirements of the plant material you're/we're growing, that you can grow anything in containers you're likely to find in the landscape, and many things you couldn't possibly grow in the landscape.

    I would mention though, that over the long term, root work is going to be an important consideration. Simply potting up ensures diminished vitality and reduced growth, though plantings reduced to the short-term category (trees & shrubs are perennials, too) may be perfectly acceptable in many cases. E.g., I have an Echiveria I can't imagine myself being without, but I rarely repot it/them, choosing instead to start a new plant from cuttings, but I KNOW that the plant will continue on a steady decline w/o repotting or starting fresh from a cutting.

    There is a kernel of truth in the idea that "no rose in a pot is going to do as well as one in the ground", because container culture is a limiting factor. As an illustration, if all other cultural conditions were perfect, the closest you could come to a plant reaching its genetic potential growth/vitality would be about 80-90%, where in the ground under perfect conditions, it would be 100% However, when you start considering ALL the cultural conditions, and the increase amount of control you have over them, you can easily see how plants grown in containers under conditions YOU control can easily out-perform plants grown out under less ideal conditions. I think, in a nice way, I just poo pooed whomever is/was giving you flak. ;o)


  • drudadunat

    I am growing all but 6 of my roses in containers on my roof-top deck. They are all doing well. I am glad Al mentioned root pruning, as I wasn't sure if it could be done on roses. I will probably do that next year. I get plenty of blooms and healthy foliage, so I'll poo poo that notion that you can't grow roses in containers too!


  • ianna

    Roses in containers may do well in warmer climates but not so in climates like mine where winter can do severe damage to the roots if the container isn't well protected. My great aunt used to keep her roses in containers and this is a normal thing to do in tropical Southeast Asia where I came from. As long as you control their nutrients and keep them from disease, they remain okay.

    I did have tropical trees in pots for over 25 years which do well to this day. (I had to leave them with trusted family members when I migrated)

  • meyermike_1micha

    Up here in New England, the only way I can grow them in containers is to bring them into an unheated garage during the winter, or bury the pot in the ground covered by leaves and hay, or to dump a bag load of mulch right on top of them till buried..

    Those are so beautiful by the way!


  • particentral

    the flack is coming from another forum on GardenWeb, and even landscapers and even CUSTOMERS at my shop. Other rose gardeners are the worst....I think they look amazing when they are not suffering through the 100 degree weather we have been having! With my automatic drip system they do not even use that much water...NOW I need to learn about root pruning for next year. :)

  • PRO

    Maybe you need to change forums. ;o)


  • particentral

    well I read a lot here and have learned so much that helps me with my potted roses its not funny! I actually am able to share some of the fertilizing and soil threads from here on the other forum with those who want to grow in pots.

    I just don;t understand people anyway. LOL this afternoon, 4 out of 5 clients in the door have asked me when I am going to plant my roses in the ground.....when I tell them I am not going to they look at me like I am crazy.

  • meyermike_1micha

    Try telling them that you don't use peat in your soilless mix....:-)

    I get animosity from my own family, neighbors, nurseries, and friends, EVEN HERE AT THE FORUMS..LOL


  • jojosplants

    A few of my neighbors are on my case about putting my tree's in the ground. If that's what I wanted to do, I never would have bought containers..;)

    If your happy with how things are growing.. Tune out the others. ;)

    Best wishes..

  • kevin_mcl

    I grow quite a few roses in 20-25 liter containers and they seem happy enough.




  • alisande

    Kevin, how absolutely gorgeous!!

  • judith5bmontreal

    Kevin, what is that beautiful rose in the last picture?
    The rest of your garden is lovely too!

  • kevin_mcl

    Hi Judith,

    Its Gertrude Jeckyll (David Austin rose). It is also regularly voted one of the best scented roses.


  • particentral

    YES! I love gertrude! Its on my list so its noce to see I can grow her in pots! LOL My biggest problem is that I rent my commercial space. SO if I move I want to take my roses with me. Add to it that the ground is rock hard as most of it was driveway or parking lot.....NOTHING does well in the ground except along my building where we dug it all up and replaced it!Plus, I find that potted plants are more "fun" cause I can move them around. LOL

  • judith5bmontreal

    Thanks Kevin!


  • vetivert8

    The best thing about roses in pots (for me) is - that when the dandelion seeds from next door blow in and settle they're easier to remove from a potted environment than from close by a plant in the ground.

    I'm also amazed by their resilience. I repotted some miniatures roses for an older gardener, ancient budheads and down to one stick - and they bounced back within about three weeks. It was great to see.

    I like it that you have matching pots so they become part of the formal display garden rather than denizens of the nursery area with the 'tatty pots'. Thanks for sharing.

  • particentral

    The matching pots to me, is essential....I have 6 more of my square pots to add to the collection if I need to. the row in front of the shop along the parking lot is a different kind but they all match and along the fencerow they all match but are a third type....all the same colors though. LOL OCD will do that to you.

  • davecito

    Ianna - what kinds of fruit trees did you keep in pots? I'd be interested in hearing about your experience.

    I'm in zone 7B, and am keeping fruit trees in pots for several reasons. I haven't been doing this for too long, so it is a learning experience. I'm in a duplex apartment, so things must be reasonably mobile. With fruit trees, it may be some years before seeing fruit (if ever), but I have several citrus (from a few inches to a few feet tall), several guavas (which seem very well-adapted to containers), feijoas, coconas (Solanum sessiliflorum). I keep trying other things - naranjilla, tamarillos, cherimoyas. They are attractive plants, and it's a lot of fun to research the plants, their needs, etc.

    There are a lot of folks on these forums doing fruit trees, but apart from citrus, there's very little discussion of fruit trees in containers, even though it is certainly doable with many plants. I think a lot of folks only consider the value of fruit trees if they are bearing fruit; however as houseplants, citrus, cherimoyas/annonas, feijoas, certain solanums (my cape gooseberries are blooming now!), and guavas are beautiful, striking plants, fruit or not.

  • farkee

    Kevin, stunning garden--certainly an inspiration for all container growers. Thanks for posting pics.

  • gardenvt

    There are people who belittle what they don't know about or understand. There are people who think the only way to plant is in the ground. There are those of us who have learned a way of gardening that works with our environment, space or our own particular situation with amazing results as evidenced by the photos above.

    After watching my neighbor grow 2 foot tomato plants in 6 inch raised beds with wonderful expensive soil (no harvest until mid-September last year), I still smile when my 8 foot cherry tomatoes and 6-7 foot heirlooms are towering over the fence dripping with luscious fruit. I have 18 tomato plants, 8 peppers (about 4' and producing heavily), 3 cucumber pots, 4 eggplants and a large variety of herbs.

    I like the results of container planting. ;-)

  • huttnem

    Just beautiful, Kevin. Particentral, sorry to hear you are running into negativity about potting your roses. I grow roses in containers including Ladybanks in a very large pot. No problem except when I have to repot ( I had to hire 2 guys to help me with LB in the giant container this spring.) Many people on the rose forum pot up roses too. I bought the Ladybanks from a nursery that had a sign next to her saying she was a small variety suitable for a container. Well, she's not small but grows beautifully in a pot.

  • kevin_mcl

    Where roses are concerned, the general advice for growing in containers is to either plant miniatures or use a very large container. This appears to arise from the rose always wanting to develop a deep thick tap root which will quickly lead to a pot-bound plant.
    While the advice itself is reasonable enough, it should also be accompanied with - 'unless you are prepared to more frequently prune the roots and renew the potting soil'.

    I came on this short article a few years ago which is illuminating about growing roses in containers...Roses in pots

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