Choosing the Best Pots for Roses (With Examples)


Best pots for growing roses

I absolutely love growing roses in pots as pots can allow you to enjoy roses in gardens that are short on space, and I even grew potted roses up on balconies when I lived in my apartment. However, when we grow roses in pots, we have some specific considerations to take into account.

In this article, we’ll talk in detail about the best pot size, best type of material and tips on drainage to ensure that our roses thrive.

But before we get started, the bottom line is this…

Ceramic, terracotta, and clay pots measuring at least 12 inches across and 12 inches deep are the best choice for growing roses. Compared to metal and plastic pots and planters, ceramic, terracotta, and clay pots do not heat up as much in the Summer and can better resist frost in Winter to protect the rose’s roots.

However, there are some caveats to this…

Keep reading to learn which pots and containers are best for you to grow roses in your conditions and how to avoid common mistakes when growing roses in pots…

What is the Best Pot Size for Growing Roses?

Roses come in a variety of sizes but you should always plant roses in pots that are at least 12 inches across with the same proportional depth.

This is because roses need a pot with a large enough capacity to hold enough soil, which helps to retain more moisture so that the soil around the roots of your rose does not dry out too quickly, particularly as roses prefer full sun and warm temperatures, which increase the rate at which the soil dries.

A really common mistake I see people make is to grow their roses in a nice wide but the pot lacks sufficient depth.

This is a problem because roses grow very deep roots.

One friend came to me with roses that had stunted growth and poor flowering, and I was able to tell right away that the reason for this was because the pot was far too shallow and the roots were pot-bound. As soon as I transplanted it to a deeper pot, the rose started to recover and flowered beautifully that year!

We also need to consider that roses require the soil to be consistently moist to avoid drooping and to grow and flower their best.

If the pot is too small then the rate at which water evaporates from the soil increases and the rose leaves and stems wilts in the Summer sun and requires watering more frequently just to stay alive.

Another classic problem that we need to avoid is that the soil is smaller pots sometimes bakes hard, which can deflect water from the surface of the soil so that the moisture does not reach the rose’s roots where it is required.

I have people ask me why their rose is wilting despite watering, and overly dry hydrophobic soil (which is exacerbated by the smaller pot) is often the reason.

How do we avoid this? Plant our roses in a larger pot with peat-free compost (peat repels water when it’s dry), and always lift the pot up after watering to assess the weight. If it is noticeably heavier after watering, you can be assured that the soil has absorbed the water properly

We also need to consider that when roses are planted in garden borders, their roots are insulted from the cold in Winter by the soil, which keeps the roots at the right temperature to survive.

However, in pots, the root system is essentially above ground and, therefore, more vulnerable to cold damage as the roots are the most sensitive part of the plant to freezing temperatures.

This is why a larger pot is so important, as the more soil in the pot, the better insulated the roots are in Winter, which increases their resilience to the cold. I learned this the hard way when one of my roses died in a cold snap when the roots were pot-bound!

Roses require their soil to be consistently moist to prevent the rose from drooping, yet they also prefer the well-draining conditions of pots as they do not tolerate their roots being sat in boggy soil, so pots often achieve the right balance of moisture for roses which is why roses often grow so well in pots.

(Read my article, why are my rose leaves turning yellow?)

What is the Best Material for Rose Pots?

Roses are hardy once established and can grow in any potting material (as long as it is large enough and has drainage holes in the bottom), but some types of pots and containers are more favorable for growing roses than others.

I have seen roses grown in pots made of wood, metal, plastic, ceramic, terracotta, and clay, and I have personally experimented with growing roses in each of these types of pots.

What I discovered is that metal pots and containers and even thin plastic pots heats up a lot quicker in the sun. As our roses require full sun, this means the pots heat up quickly, which dries out the soil, stresses the roots, and causes your rose to wilt.

Roses in plastic pots.
Roses in plastic pots.

Roses require moist soil with lots of organic matter to grow their best, so anything that increases the rate at which the pot dries out can harm the rose.

If you do plant roses in metal or plastic pots, it is important to be diligent about watering frequently to avoid the rose drooping.

Metal pots heat up too quickly for rose roots causing wilt.
Metal pots heat up too quickly for rose roots causing wilt.

At the hottest times of the year, this can mean that you have to water roses every day if their pots are heating up in the sun. This is why I now avoid metal or plastic pots and advise all my gardening friends to do so, too!

Ceramic, terracotta or clay pots are best for growing roses.
Ceramic, terracotta, or clay pots are best for growing roses.

From my own experience, I can tell you that, without a doubt, the best pots for growing roses are made from ceramic terracotta or clay pots and containers. What I observed is that these pots do not heat up as much in the sun and can often provide some protection for the roots from frost in the Winter compared to plastic or metal pots and tend to resist weather better.

Clay pots also have a porous quality which can help to prevent root rot when the pots get really damp in persistent rainfall.

Ever since I grew roses in terracotta pots, the survival rate of my roses and the prolificness of their flowering have increased.

Whilst ceramic, terracotta, and clay pots are the best pots for roses, we need to remember that a good-sized terracotta pot can be very heavy when containing soil, water, and, of course, the rose itself.

This can make it difficult to move compared to the lighter plastic pots but also can act as a counterbalance against winds as some roses grow tall and can be somewhat top heavy which can cause them to topple if the pot is too light.

(Read my article, why are my roses not blooming?)

Good Drainage in the Base of the Rose’s Pot or Container

By far, the most important feature of a rose’s pot or container is that it has drainage holes in the base of the pot to allow excess water to escape after watering.

If there are no drainage holes in the base of the pot, water just collects at the bottom of the pot, and the soil around the rose’s roots becomes saturated, which causes root rot, and your rose dies back.

Roses need good drainage to stay healthy.

To further increase the drainage of the pot, I recommend adding a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot as this ensures that there is a porous structure as the base of the pot that allows water to flow freely from the bottom.

Some people say this is unecessary, but what I have found is that it also prevents any soil becoming compacted at the base of the pot which can slow down the drainage of excess water.

Pro tip: If you live in a windy area then I recommend adding the grit at the bottom of your pot as it is the most effective counterbalance to prevent your rose from blowing over as it lowers the roses center of gravity!

I recommend placing your rose pots on little feet or stands so that they are about an inch off the ground. This again allows water to flow from the base of the pot without it collecting underneath on a patio which can keep the soil too damp for the rose’s roots.

(Read my article, how to Revive a dying potted rose).

Avoid this Common Mistake!

Occasionally I see rose pots on patios that have a large tray underneath to catch the water which prevents it from running out of the pot and all over the patio.

Trays underneath pots just collect water after watering and the bottom of the pot is sat in water which promotes the conditions for root rot.

Always make sure that excess water can escape from the bottom of your rose pot to prevent root rot and keep the rose roots healthy.

If you have any questions about roses or want to share your favorite pots, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you!

Key Takeaways:

  • Ceramic, clay, and terracotta pots are the best choice for growing roses. Ceramic, clay, and terracotta pots tend to be thicker, which means they do not heat up as quickly as metal or plastic pots, and they resist frost better in winter to protect the rose’s roots.
  • Grow roses in pots that measure at least 12 inches across with the same proportional depth. A pot of this size can contain enough soil and to hold enough moisture so that the soil does not dry out too quickly for the rose’s roots to draw up water. Larger pots also provide insulation in Winter to protect the rose’s root from frost.
  • Always plant roses in pots and containers with drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape after watering. Roses require moist soil but develop root rot if the soil is saturated, so it is important that water can drain from the base of the pot to allow the rose to stay healthy.
  • Place rose pots on stands to allow water to flow from the base, prevent the soil from staying damp, and avoid root rot

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