What happened to our spring weather?!? It came and escaped just like that. Growing roses in pots has its pros and cons of course. Let's talk about caring for potted roses in our brutal Texas heat. Joy for all of us rose lovers in Houston and any other part of Texas / other hot states! Get ready to sweat from head to toe together!
Growing roses in ground is a way to go as we all know, great for roses so their roots aren't restricted by containers and good for us because we don't have to water as often. Clay soil isn't bad after all because they have a lot of good nutrients that roses love.
However, many people (me included) don't have that luxury to grow in ground. Most of my roses are in pots and raised beds due to these reasons:
1) Too lazy to dig holes - pure laziness. Digging holes is a great workout but I don't really enjoy it. Harsh truth!
2) Parts of my yard always get flooded and roses don't like wet feet. I am not going to build 10 differet raised beds as that won't look good in my yard.
3) Armadillos and other wildlife friends love visting my garden too much due to the wilderness behind my fence (my growing roses in the wilderness here) If I trap one and relocate, there are more wildlife friends back there. I gave up. Lucky me.
Technically, potting my roses up is best for my situations in my yard here in Southeast Houston, Texas. But with everything, here's always a struggle and it's tough when it's hot because heat and gardening are a bad combo for me. I don't like heat. And don't forget mosquitoes, yikes!
I love these big 22" planters from Home Depot. HUGE and durable. I've many of them since 2020 and they're holding up well BUT due to dark color, it gets hot FAST. That means soil and roots will be hot and baked inside too.
Pay extra attention to your potted roses especially when temperature is going to be extra hot that day.
Tips for caring your potted roses:
1) Water early morning to get them fully hydrated and DEEP watering. With roses, "DEEP" watering is the key. What does that mean? According to The Spruce website - There is no hard-and-fast definition for watering deeply, but it generally means that the water is able to soak at least eight inches below the soil surface. The point behind this is that most plant's roots are not sitting close to the soil surface.
How much and how often will vary due to what type of soil you use (recommend to use potting soil for good drainage), how quickly water runs through the soil, how much your rose absorbs, how hot the weather is that day, and how fast you release water. It will be hard to tell unless I know those factors. So experiment and see how your roses respond.
I don't have a drip irrigation at this point so handwatering is my method. It isn't desirable during summer so I try to do it early morning for deep watering to avoid sweating from head to toe. In my yard, I use a water hose and do about 2-5 mins per potted roses with an average water flow (not too slow, it's hot I won't be standing there too long).
2) Water outside of your pots too and if they sit on concrete, I water concrete floor as they get hot and retain heat. For this part, I spray water directly at those pots on their exterior (and concrete floor where pots are sitting on or move them to sit on the grass/soil instead) in the afternoon if and when I can especially I know it's going to be over 80 degree. That's hot enough to get dark colored pots hot fast. I do this to help cool them down so the roots won't bake inside.
3) Wash their leaves and entire bush: Although overhead watering is not recommended for roses, I do during hot months. I water entire plants on a sunny day during early or mid- morning hours in order to
- Rinse some pests out of my plants as I don't spray with insecticide (I have a lot of leaf hoppers)
- Help bring temperature down and help them to prepare for a more intense heat in the afternoon. They do look refreshing afterwards.
4) Mulch, mulch and mulch - actually I should move this part up to number 1. Mulching will help your soil retain moisture and provide extra protection. I personally am bad at mulching as I always forget to do in early spring. I prefer to use compost instead of mulch. I find compost to work quite well for mulching.
5) Deadhead, cut, or bring the blooms inside: your beautiful flowers will fry in no time under our hot sun. So if you spot any new buds that are about to open soon. Don't hesitate to cut. That will help your roses too so they can reserve that energy and you'll have some pretty flowers to enjoy indoor.
6) Shading: some people set up a big umbrella to help provide some shade during the hottest time of the day. Some use shading cloths. I personally haven't tried any of this but I may as my backyard is south-facing and it's pretty brutal in the summer.
7) Fertilize as needed: as mentioned in this blog post about spring fertilizing, too much can be harmful and attracts even more pests. I do like to supplement with mild feeding like fish fertilizer during hot months to help them stay strong to fight off pests and diseases. The main purpose is not to fertilize to get them to produce flowers under heat (I'll explain why below).
**If you spray your roses with neem oil, fungicide, or insecticide, carefully read label to make sure you apply it correclty. Most products, you can't apply under high heat as they will burn rose leaves.
Yes roses love the sun, but not so much the heat
During hot months, your roses will not bloom as much and their flowers will be smaller, have lower petal counts, not very attractive, and fading fast. It can be disappointing.
But know that when temperature is high, roses can have heat stress and will shift their energy to try to survive the heat. Flowering is not their priority.
Some will not grow at all or as much. Just like us, if we have to be out in that heat for longer than 5 mins, it's miserable right? Think of those roses and other plants, they are out there all day under all weather conditions. Here's a great article to help you understand how to protect your roses in hot weather.
Caring for roses in summer months is very challenging and requires a lot of patience. They also have to deal with pests and diseases on top of extremely hot weather. Some people say that David Austin roses don't do well in heat. Since I don't have all DA varieties, I can't tell you at this point. Some will still bloom, but some won't. Even some Kordes and Meillands don't even want to bloom in heat. I find that Weeks roses are pretty heat tolerant. They are not the most disease tolerant variety, but they do bloom quite well in heat. My favorite Weeks rose is Jump for Joy which blooms its head off all year.
Love them, care for them, be patient, and dont' forget to apply sunscreen on yourself (grab a hat too) too. Stay cool, stay calm, and enjoy rose gardening. They'll get back to blooming again for you when they can, I promise.
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Thank you so much.