By Eve Jones

The big impetus for my moving hundreds of rose bushes, big and small, out of the ground and into pots was an infestation of the sedge popularly called Nut Grass. No matter how assiduously I dug the roots and nuts up, this super-successful weed reappeared within a matter of a few days and continued to drink up the water, eat up the fertilizer, and generally make a nuisance of itself, interfering with the growth and good looks of my roses 

Initially, after months of pulling up the nut grass through several growing seasons, I finally decided to dig up my "good" roses, shake out their roots, and bury them in new, uncontaminated soil in pots while I strived to poison the ground to kill off the nut grass so I could replant the rose bushes.

That was when the light bulb turned on in my head and I realized that growing my roses in containers not only would foil the nut grass, but would also cut down, seriously, on any other weeds too. No more hours on my knees pulling up stray grass and other weeds that went crazy trying to invade the soft soil of my rose beds. And no more continuing to build little 2-brick-high walls to contain the rose beds and no more digging down to make deeper walls of screening to deter the invasion of tree roots and other hungry invaders.

So I ordered a couple dozen plastic containers from a local company that manufactures attractive plastic pots in several colors and sizes and went to work digging up my rose bushes to plant them into suitable sized, acceptably decorative, containers A few of my neighbors were concerned that I might be going to start a nursery, selling my rose pots, but in a few weeks the concern died down and I even noticed that a few neighbors a few blocks distant were putting their plants in pots too.

The advantages of growing roses in containers are several, in addition to the prevention of the invasion of weeds and thus the reduction in time spent weeding.

First of all, there's a considerable saving of water. That's good for the environment as well as your checkbook. You aren't putting large quantities of expensive water down into the water table as you do when you're watering in more conventional ways. You'll notice your water bill will decrease, especially if you use tube watering so the water is delivered directly to each specific pot, not to the ground in between the bushes, and if you mulch the soil in between your pots.

Secondly, not only do containers prevent weeds from invading your rose beds, but they also confine your rose bushes' roots so they aren't wandering all over the place, interfering with the healthy growth of your other bushes.

Another benefit is that you can easily move any potted rose to optimize the growth situation for any specific bush, putting it into a shadier spot or bringing it into more sun. Similarly, you can easily remove any rose bush that hasn't thrived as you expected and desired. Obviously, it's a lot easier to move a container with a rose bush in it to a better situation than to dig up a bush and then re-plant it.

 Additionally, I've found that it's reasonably easy to "crowd" the pots so I can grow more rose bushes in a bed than I was able to do when I needed to keep 36 inches between crowns of rose bushes planted into the soil. By keeping the width of a bed holding containers narrow, I find I can put the pots actually touching each other, so I get 3 pots into an area that I would otherwise have only used for two plants in the soil. The roots can't get out and one plant doesn't crowd out another.

Another major consideration is that all the expensive added nutrients rose growers are constantly sprinkling and spraying on their plants actually are getting to where they belong. I'm not fertilizing the soil in between bushesI'm feeding the rose bushes exactly where they are. 

Similarly, if I notice a bush is diseased, I'm easily able to spray just that particular plant, specifically, without having to spray the entire bed. I can even easily remove it and put it in quarantine so it doesn't infect any nearby plants. 

An additional benefit is that the overall cost of applied materials is reducedeverything I'm putting on a particular bush is right there, doing its thing without wasting itself by filtering down into the water table. And when I need to add new soil or reduce the growth of roots, tipping the plants out of containers is a lot easier than digging one up from the surrounding soil.

Initially, the only drawback I can see to growing in containers is that we aren't used to looking at them. We think we ought to be looking at mulched ground in between our bushes.

But if you take the approach of pretending that your rose beds are similar to the ones we see in highly structured parks on the order of Fontainebleau or any of the other public European or Asian gardens, the plethora of pots won't long trouble you. You'll find the symmetry and orderliness of rows of pots very pleasing to your eye and you'll certainly enjoy the ease of growing in pots 

You'll also soon find that you truly enjoy not having to get down on your knees to weed constantly. You'll have all the advantages of raised rose beds by growing your rose bushes in easily portable pots that you can easily tend to as needed just be bending down. You'll be able to replenish the soil in a container much more easily than by digging around a bush while guarding against wounding the root structures by cultivating too close to them. 

All in all, the initial investment in the cost of the containers is more than repaid by the cost savings on water, fertilizers, mulch, spray materials and other care that would otherwise be wasted on the ground in between rose bushes planted in the soil.

So next time you add new rose bushes, try them in pretty containers that enhance the beauty of your bushes and see how easy it is to grow your beautiful bushes in containers. Try it. You'll like it.

© Copyright Eve Jones. All rights reserved. 

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Updated January 4, 2016