How I feed & Mulch potted roses

mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)April 26, 2014

Hello fellow Rosarians. I got a bit picture happy today. While enjoying the photographic evidence of my labour, I thought I'd share how I feed & mulch my 40+ potted roses. I know that my process may not suit everyone, but it works really well for me.

My largest challenges with potted roses are:
1. Maintaing proper moisture levels.
2. Maintaining healthy organic matter in the pots without having to repot very often.
3. Preventing nutrients from being washed away before the roots can use them.
4. I often put trailing annuals in the pots. These annual absorb valuable nutrients and it's a pain trying to yank their roots out when they die.

My simple solution to moisture is to use a pot a bit too large for the rose and mulch heavily.

My solution to healthy organic matter and nutrient retention is well rotted manure and vermicompost. We all know the benefits of well rotted manure. Vermicompost is excellent for potted roses. Not only does it help with water retention, it's teeming with microbial life that converts nutrients into plant usable forms. Also, "Unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which helps prevent nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil."

Today, I mixed equal(ish) volumes of well rotted manure and vermicompost in a wheelbarrow. Then I headed to the roses.

All my potted roses are well mulched up to the rim of their pots. By Apr/May each year the mulch has broken down significantly. Here's DA's Carolyn Knight ...

I put a good layer of the compost mix on top of the existing mulch and roughly mixed it in. The worms in the mix will happily munch on the old mulch, any left over roots from annuals and any weed seedlings that managed to germinate.

I water the compost in gentally and top off with more wood mulch. I always top up right to the rim of the pot.

Do this with all my potted shrubs. Including fruit...

Thanks for letting me share, I hope this helps someone.

M

This post was edited by mirendajean on Sat, Apr 26, 14 at 15:19

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charleney(8a PNW)

Right exactly the I would do it too! Compost is the bomb..Also use coffee grounds. Wow!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 12:53PM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

I feed coffee grounds to my worms. They love them. I'd a big ole worm bin that I just dismantled (it was falling apart). I fed my worm everything except meat products & dairy.

I'm hoping to get a new system built next month.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 2:17PM
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canadian_rose(zone 3a)

I don't fill my pots up to the rim with "soil." I find that I can water them better with room at the top for water to be absorbed. Do you have a problem with watering when you fill the pots up so much?
Thanks for the look at how you do things. I agree that vermiculture is great! Right now, my worms are in their container in the garage. They'll come out, when it's warmer.

Carol

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 2:50PM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

Hiya Carol.

The I've no problem watering them for three reasons.

First, it settles relatively quickly, dropping down below the rim by at least 1cm in the first week.

Second, ramial wood chips are course and chunky. I set the hose on an easy drip and the water flows right through the mulch.

Third, Ireland rarely lacks for rain. Last summer was the first (in my 9 years living here. I'm from VA) that required me to water the pots regularly.

M.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 3:15PM
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lesmc

Thanks so much for sharing your methods. I always love to learn how other rose lovers grow their beautiful roses.I will now google vermiculture! HA! lesley

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 4:55PM
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susan4952(5)

Mj, been wondering where you've been. Evidently, in the garden! How was your winter?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 6:50PM
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canadian_rose(zone 3a)

Oh, I see - I thought you meant that you filled it to the rim with the soil settled. What you said makes a lot of sense. And I also forgot about all the rain you get there. You have a great system!!
Carol

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 2:43AM
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rosefolly

I'm not currently growing roses in pots, but I did for years and like you, I topped them off with both compost and mulch just the way you do. It really does help with both water retention and soil fertility. Ultimately I got rid of all the potted roses, some into the ground, some discarded. In my dry climate they are far more work when they are in pots. But I enjoyed it for years. Yours look very happy.

Rosefolly

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:26AM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

@ Susan. Hey Lady. How was your winter? I've been reading the forum but haven't had much to contribute. Now that the roses are back in serious action I need to return to my Rosy friends. My partner & BF eyes glaze when I get excited over the prospect of the first blooms. I've been a busy bee in the garden. This was my first year doing fruit trees and winter veg.

@Lesley - I think worm castings are essential for potted roses...and veg...and EVERYTHING :-) they do a world of good balancing fungal issues and have amazing microbial benefits.

@ Carol - thanks. I'm proud of my system.

@ Rosefolly - I don't own my house. All my favorite plants are in pots. I don't mind leaving my strawberry patch and other easily recreated beds. I wouldn't want to start over with my roses or fruit trees.

M

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 2:48PM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

Thank you for sharing your information. It's a very interesting post and I'm about to start some new roses in pots. I worry about my others in pots because I have too many to pot up. I'll be giving away some or selling this year. :)
I have never given my potted ones organic matter but this year I'm definitely going to.

Carla

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 4:35PM
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rosefolly

It sounds very sensible, Mirendajean. My DH and I will be in Ireland for a week this summer. He is going on a bicycle tour while I explore on my own, then we will meet at the end to go elsewhere together. He has been checking the weather in Cork every day for simply months, and so far it has been raining almost every one of those days! So hard for us to imagine.

I'm not at all surprised that you do not need to water your potted plants.

Folly

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 10:02PM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

Rosefolly,

Ooooh, enjoy your trip. There's less rain down the south of the country, between Dublin & Cork. I'm in the NW. Here the climate is similar to the PNW back home. We've lovely summers but they can be cool.

My brother in laws are major cyclists. They don't bat an eye at 100+ mile cycling journeys. My partner helps organise the only Cycling Show/Expo in Ireland. Email me if your coming during that time.

M

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:50AM
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mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

Rosefolly,

Ooooh, enjoy your trip. There's less rain down the south of the country, between Dublin & Cork. I'm in the NW. Here the climate is similar to the PNW back home. We've lovely summers but they can be cool.

My brother in laws are major cyclists. They don't bat an eye at 100+ mile cycling journeys. My partner helps organise the only Cycling Show/Expo in Ireland. Email me if your coming during that time.

M

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:51AM
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kansas.girl

Great tips!

This post was edited by kansas.girl on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 23:14

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:29PM
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