Should I really plant my roses in containers full of topsoil?

redecoratingmom(8 GA)January 10, 2013

I've ordered some bare root David Austin roses from the company and I plan on planting them in large (22") planters that I have. I didn't see any information on their site about container planting and decided to email them to ask what type of potting mix they recommend. I explained to them the potting mix I already use (which is Al's 5:1:1 mix) and asked would this work well with the roses. The person replied that they " usually suggest a good top soil/compost blend". Also I should not add fertilizer to the mix but to wait until the roses begin to leaf out but do add The David Austin Mycorhizzal Fungi at planting.

I don't want to question the professionals but this seems to go against all I've learned about container culture as far as the soil is concerned. I've thought soil-less mixes where the standard for containers and, with the knowledge that Al has imparted, I've learned the importance of aeration in containers. Is there something I'm missing that is unique to roses that would make the suggested blend more beneficial to them than 5:1:1? Should I plant them in the topsoil mix or go with what I know?

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Go with what you know. I've grown a hybrid tea rose and a floribunda in 5-1-1 the past two years and they seem to be doing very well. I always incorporate a complete controlled release fertilizer in my mix and fertilized with foliage pro through the season. I did add actinovate and trichoderma to the mix as well. Roses are heavy feeders. There have been many discussions of container growing in the GW Roses Forum that I have found helpful in dealing with the many diseases and pests that plague roses. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:03AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Your roses will be the containers for years, I presume. If you don't want to replant every two years, use the mixes recommended on this forum. For the longest run in the same mix, I use the gritty mix. Al

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 10:05AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As things like water retention, tall perched water tables, compaction, lack of aeration, accumulating salts in the soil, ..... become more of a consideration, the opportunity for your plants to attain the potential with which they were endowed by Mother Nature is diminished, so I wouldn't consider "It works for me" to be a clarion call I'd follow with any confidence. All you need to do is picture in your mind's eye what a mix of topsoil + compost would yield in terms of the short list mentioned, to see it would be difficult to defend the combination of ingredients as anything other than something you might be able to get by with if you do everything else just right.

Soils with lots of aeration and good drainage, which would also include a not so tall PWT at container capacity (when the soil is holding all the water it can hold), are going to be much more forgiving, which means they are far less likely to net major consequences resultant of even minor deviations from model judgement. Even if you were to partially bury the containers so tall PWTs are removed from the table as a certain to be limiting factor, you would still be assured that compaction and minimal aeration in the root zone are going to be formidable adversaries that would be better sidestepped.

Best luck!


    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 3:37AM
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I would say in this case you have a few prize roses so using a soilless mix is great. That person said to use that because I am sure they used it with great results and the compost and topsoil is 100% free.Growing each plant PERFECT sounds nice, but growing for free sounds even better...

This post was edited by TheMasterGardener1 on Fri, Jan 11, 13 at 13:44

    Bookmark   January 11, 2013 at 12:34PM
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redecoratingmom(8 GA)

Thank you guys for the input, you may have saved my roses' lives:). 5:1:1 mix it is ( not able to do the gritty right now ) and I'll hold off on the fertilizer for now .

    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 2:53AM
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