Ideas & Inspiration

Small Rose Garden Ideas

Choose the Right Rose for the Right Place
Red climbing rose on garden arch

To get the beauty of roses for your porch, patio or balcony, select small to mid-size varieties and choose a good-sized pot.

Hardy, disease-resistant Knock Out Roses are a natural choice for containers. If you have room, look for a trailing rose that can be trained along a fence or balcony rail, or upright on a trellis for a touch of the country in the city.

Trailing roses include ramblers and climbers. The main difference between the two is that ramblers flower once, while climbers bloom from spring through fall.

Neither grows on vines, but instead, on canes that may be bent and attached to structures such as a fence, trellis or arbor.

How to Plant a Rose in a Container
Roses in garden containers
  • Choose a large container, at least 18 inches wide and deep (at least 20 quarts in volume). Whiskey barrel planters work well.
  • Drill drainage holes if the container doesn’t already have them. 
  • Use potting mix from the Garden Center, or mix up your own from equal parts composted manure, top soil and pine bark mini nuggets. 
  • When planting, fill the container 3/4 full with potting mix, then shape into a mound that is no taller than 2 inches below the rim of the pot.
  • Spread the roots of the rose over the mound and top with more potting mix right up to the bud union, the place where the cane was grafted onto the root stock.
  • Thoroughly water the planted rose, but wait a few weeks before fertilizing.

If you have a large enough container, fill it out with companion plants. Roses play well with perennial herbs like lavender, and you can’t beat the combination of purple lavender and red, pink or peach roses.

In the fall, tuck daffodil, crocus and tulip bulbs down into the soil in the container for late winter blooms next year. Marigolds, begonias and other annuals make fine companions, just be sure to choose plants that won’t compete for water (or water accordingly) and won’t spread too much. In summer, pair hydrangeas in containers with your roses.

Tips for Success with Roses in Containers
Roses potted in containers on a window ledge
  • Drainage: Like all container plants, roses need good drainage. Make sure the container has adequate drainage holes. Don’t place the container in a dish to catch water. Instead, prop the finished container on a plant caddy, plant stand or pavers to ensure air circulation and keep out pests.
  • Water: Roses like water, but there are so many variables at play that it’s difficult to say how much water your container roses will need. Keep an eye on the plants and touch the soil in the container every few days — if it’s dry an inch down, it’s time to water. As the summer heats up, expect to water the roses every day that you don’t have rain, less so as days cool down.
  • Fertilizer: Give newly planted roses about a month before beginning a fertilizer regimen, then follow through with regular applications throughout the season to encourage blooms and healthy growth.
  • Training on a trellis or fence: Climbers and ramblers will grow more full if trained horizontally rather than vertically. Unlike vines, which have tendrils to grasp a support, roses need to be tied to a trellis using plant ties.

Roses are one of the joys of the garden. Still, they are not immune to pests, including Japanese beetles. When you see these pests in your garden, fill up a bucket with soapy water, pull off the offending bug (wear gloves if you need to) and drop the insect in the water. Rose expert Chris Van Cleave recommends spraying for pests only if they become a problem over time. You can also plant companion plants like irises, bee balm and daylilies that attract beneficial insects that will help control the pest population.