For a modern city woman or girl, growing a rose garden might seem like a nice daydream. After all, you do live in a concrete jungle. You might think to yourself how great it would be to have a spacious veranda, with billowing flowers, towering trellises and wonderful decor where you would drink coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings. WELL – your dream to have a beautiful rose garden should NOT just remain a dream! In this post, we will lead you through and help you grow a rose garden on your balcony, using potted roses and containers!
You are able to transform your outdoor space – no matter how small it might seem!
To grow a rose garden on your balcony, you will need a variety of roses – hybrid tea, miniature roses and patio roses all compliment each other beautifully, although you can use almost any rose variety. Your balcony will have to receive lots of sun, or at the minimum, several hours of daylight each day. Add some pretty rose companion plants also suitable for growing on balconies, such as lavender, white lobelia, or even your favourite herbs, such as garlic, chives, and rosemary. Gather together your soil, fertiliser, and an assortment of pretty pots and containers. This will all form the basis of your balcony rose garden!
What You Need To Start Your Rose Garden On Your Balcony
You can absolutely grow roses on a balcony, providing you have good healthy soil in your pots and containers, you use fertiliser, and your balcony receives some good solid hours of daylight (6-7 hours is perfect) every day.
When raising roses in pots and containers on your balcony, you will have to be extra mindful about the conditions and needs of your roses.
First of all, your rose will have a limited amount of soil to work with. They only have what you provide them with. Therefore, make sure your roses get the best quality fresh soil with enough nutrients. You will need fertiliser and to monitor the health of your soil.
Secondly, be diligent and careful with your watering if your balcony is covered from above (which, it probably is!). A covered balcony means that you are the sole source of water for your roses – rain won’t reach them at all. On the other hand, roses aren’t succulents, and they are notoriously bad when it comes to lapping up the water from the air and environment around them. Make sure your watering habits don’t drown or parch the roses.
Lastly, it’s all about the sunshine, sunshine! Your potted roses still need about 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight.
For all intents and purposes, you are mimicking what nature would provide to your rose in the garden.
What you need to grow a balcony rose garden
Surprisingly, you don’t need a lot to grow a rose garden on your balcony!
What type of roses grow best on balconies?
To start to grow a rose garden on your balcony, you will need a rose variety of your choice. Firm favourites for growing on balconies include miniature roses, patio roses, small floribundas and hybrid teas. Adding companion plants will add beauty, interest and even scent to your rose garden, as well as keeping your roses healthy.
Truth be told, with enough space to grow a beautiful rose garden on your balcony – you can grow just about any rose. However, big varieties usually include quite a bit of planning beforehand – you will either need to prune frequently, or be happy with a large variety swamping your entire balcony! This can look quite pretty though!
Growing roses in pots and arranging a balcony garden is a great way to bring the rose beauty and fragrance into daily living spaces.
Great rosarians best understand this balance between wanting great rose varieties and not necessarily having a large garden area, so careful cross-breeding has led to some great varieties that are perfect for container gardening. These, of course, include the ever-popular miniature roses and patio style roses. Bred specifically for the purpose of gardening in a limited space, these roses are limited in size, don’t usually need full sunlight (great if you live in a grey or dull country)! and are easy to maintain.
Patio roses are roses which grow and develop into bushy fixtures over time. They are usually smaller in size than floribundas, but usually they are a tiny bit bigger than miniature roses.
Patio roses require diligent spring pruning, as they otherwise grow out fast. They are highly scented, musky and fruity in the fragrance, not taking up over 50 x 50 cm in space on your balcony with proper upkeep.
Their lifespan is a bit shorter than that of roses commonly, lasting at most up to 8 years. This, however, does not deter them from being a very popular bush variety due to how abundantly they tend to flower!
Varieties to choose from include:
- Queen Mother (pink)
- Flower Power (orange)
- Bianco (white)
- Bright Smile (yellow)
- Marlena (red)
- Regensberg (deep pink)
The smallest of all the varieties, miniature roses are, actually, true roses that have simply been bred into a very small, coffee-table stature over decades of gardening.
When compared to species roses, they have smaller flowers, but the colours and fragrances are just as intense. They are disease-resistant, quite hardy and oftentimes bloom more than once a season.
Most miniature roses will not grow over 40 to 45 centimetres in height at very best, making them a great windowsill plant.
Varieties to choose from include:
- Perle D’Or (pastel beige)
- Wildfire (orange)
- Cri Cri (bright pink)
- Hakuun (yellow)
- Little Flirt (red and yellow)
- Marie Pavie (light pastel pink)
One of the world’s most popular roses – and for a very good reason! Hybrid teas have colour, blooms and fragrance like no other variety. Additionally, they are easy to care for, despite being royalty amongst flowers.
Hybrid teas come in all sorts of colours. They can be surprisingly hardy and almost all varieties repeat-bloom. This is a delight, considering that, while the blooms are lesser in yield in general, they are wonderfully large flowers with incredible far-spreading scent.
Varieties to choose from include:
- A Whiter Shade of Pale (pink)
- Peace (yellow to white to pink)
- Ruby Wedding (red)
- Silver Anniversary (white)
- Dutch Gold (yellow)
- Julia’s Rose (beige)
Floribundas are smaller, shrub-like roses with a lot of beautiful, often double blooms. They are a cross between a hybrid tea and a polyantha rose.
Floribunda varieties that do not grow as tall (think Mystic Beauty or Pink Gruss an Aachen) are simply perfect for container gardening!
What companion plants are best for roses on balconies?
If you don’t want your roses to be lonely, you can always opt to plant a few companion plants. Companion plants can either be planted in the same pot as a rose, or planted in a pot of its own to accompany the general garden vibe.
When choosing companion plants to place in the same pot as your roses, pick plants that will trail and cascade over the sides of the containers. This is especially aesthetic if you plant such varieties in hanging baskets or vertical planters. However, it also has a practical purpose as it will not interfere with the growth of your rose.
Choose low-maintenance plants
Pick plants that are non-aggressive varieties that will not combat your roses as they both flourish and grow. For example, while petunias are beautiful and a great balcony choice, it is better to plant them in their own pots. In the same pot as a rose, they will give a lot of colour, contrast and growth. However, at some point they will work their way up inside and around the rose. Both will combat for resources, and if petunias win, your rose will definitely wilt as a result as it will not be able to regain the upper hand.
A great companion of my personal choice is White Alyssum. White Alyssum is a non-aggressive sort, not a heavy eater, doesn’t claim a lot of space and it is more than happy working with less nutrients. It is more background-ornamental than show-stopping-ornamental, which is exactly what you need when you have a rose that grabs all the attention, anyway!
White Alyssum is usually small and bushy, a plant with small clusters of snow white simple flowers. It tends to be low-growing, which prevents it from interfering with rose growth. They are spectacularly resistant and hardy! Easy to care for and easy to thrive, they give off a light, airy scent of their own – in addition to being a complementing backdrop to your star rose.
A very similar sort to White Alyssum is Lobelia. Coming in many different varieties, this is another outwards-growing ornamental bushy plant. It is abundant with clusters of minimalistic flowers that are, strikingly enough, deep blue in colour. Some Lobelia varieties are naturally low-growing and low-hanging, giving a fountain effect as droves of blue flowers spill out of a hanging basket.
Mix and match Lobelia with White Alyssum depending on your rose’s colour to maximise stunning contrast within your planters!
For a simpler, more muted choice of a companion plant, choose sedum (stonecrop). These succulents are very simplistic and rather minimalist shrub plants, which will not compete with your thirsty rose for water. They are, in fact, spectacular at drawing moisture from air itself. They have thick leaves and simple, star-like flowers, with low-growing varieties just perfect as ground cover or overflowing down a container!
Can I Put Any Patio Rose On My Balcony?
If you are a clueless and a complete beginner who just bought a rose from an organic farmer’s market or a florist, you can put your rose on your balcony! However it will most likely need repotting – the pot in came in is mainly for transportation only. Besides, that dull little plastic pot probably isn’t going to look that great on your balcony display!
Do not repot your rose immediately – let it rest for a little while to get over what is called ‘transplant shock’. You should let it rest, somewhere on your balcony where, ideally, it will get all of the morning sun. Allow your rose to develop a shoot or two, strengthen roots and deal with any stress, making its home on your balcony. Believe it or not, professional rosarians recommend that your roses isn’t repotted for at least a month, with some keeping them in their original pots for up to an entire year.
Water your rose and add some fertiliser. If you are bothered by the unsightly nursery pot that the rose came in, purchase a ceramic, outer decorative pot and simply plop it all in – no replanting necessary!
Don’t worry – you will be able to tell when it is time for a rose to be repotted. As you water it every day, it will dry out super fast, regardless. The roots will be all over the place, completely engulfing its soil. Just by looking at it, you will be able to tell it is just a BIT too clunky for the pot that it is in.
Choosing Containers For Your Balcony Garden
Once you are ready to repot (or if you are starting from germinated seeds or propagating cuttings), the choice of a container makes ALL the difference. The decorative containers are easy to pick out considering they require no replanting. You can simply insert the plastic pots and cover them up. However, the plastic containers take a bit of consideration.
Your container choice will largely depend on a) how much balcony space you have and b) how big your variety is. If your balcony or patio is actually quite spacious, and you don’t mind upsizing the pots every once in a while – then you don’t need to worry. Get a container that holds up to 10 litres – and you’ll have no need to repot your rose for at least five more years.
However, working on the assumption that you have that small city balcony, you can start small with containers that are 30-40 centimetres in diameter. From there, as your rose grows and develops, it is easy to tell if you will need to upscale to 3 litre container or larger. Finally, the great thing about container gardening is that it allows for less of a commitment. Grow out your rose, grow with it and decide if you are right for each other. If not, you can always simply re-gift it to a friend or at a garden fair, and find a better-suited match for it!
As for drainage, the soil you choose will take care of that in the most part. Otherwise, make sure that the container has a few holes on the bottom – just in case, to allow excess water to drain without waterlogging the roses. If your container comes without holes, you can drill them into place, or if your pot is plastic, simply stab the bottom with some scissors!
I also like to add in a handful of small stones at the bottom – this aids drainage.
When planting or repotting – a rose needs its soil. And not just any soil!
The soil we talk about when we talk about container gardening really does not resemble garden soil. If you tried to simply dig up some soil from a garden and use it to pot your roses, it would be way too heavy. First of all, the soil wouldn’t drain the water well enough. And secondly – it wouldn’t retain the water well enough!
Sounds contradictory? It is actually quite simple chemistry.
Instead, you should opt to use a soilless mix geared towards roses. Depending on where you live, a soilless mix can vary greatly in ingredients. Commonly, you can find peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, composted wood product, rice hulls or coconut fibre as the ingredients in your local soilless mix.
When you grasp a fistful, you will notice that a soilless mix is quite light to the touch. This is in part due to its qualities that help it both retain and drain water well, at the same time.
This is the soil you want to grow a rose garden on your balcony. It will keep your roses blooming as long as it’s continually monitored and fertilised.
Fertilising Your Balcony Roses
Roses are heavy and voracious eaters. They eat a lot, drink a lot and spread their roots far. This makes sense, as they need all that crazy energy to put into those wonderful, show-stopping blooms.
Organic Fertiliser For Balcony Roses
Generally, it is good to opt for organic fertiliser, there are some great organic fertilisers to choose from – coffee grounds, aspirin, and tomato feed make use of ingredients around your home, and of course, roses at the early stage LOVE a dash of manure! (though you might not want to add that particular scent to your balcony)!
How Much Fertiliser Should I Give To My Balcony Roses?
Follow instructions carefully when using store-purchased fertiliser. Remember – always under-fertilise rather than over-fertilise! Over fertilising leads to a weaker rose bush and less flowers, as your plant suddenly sprouts more leaves and shoots than it can handle.
Small Garden Tools For Pots
Some shears, garden gloves, a small watering can are all the tools that are needed to create a simple balcony rose garden.
These tools will come in useful for pruning your rose plants (essential for healthy roses), planting and repotting, and general rose garden care.
How to add features to your balcony rose garden
After you grow a beautiful rose garden on your balcony, give it a dash of your own signature design. This project does not have to stop at planting a few roses in pots and just placing them around. Provided you have space, there is a number of things you can utilise to up the charm of your tiny outdoors space!
Add a few decorative pebbles into and around your rose planters. Source local pebbles for a pretty aesthetic, build stone towers, or get creative and paint or applique them.
Who says you can’t have a trellis on a balcony? If you can poke a few holes for a screw or two in the walls, hanging a trellis is actually super easy! Plant a climbing rose variety next to it and watch it transform your wall into a romantic paradise!
Hanging baskets and planters
Basically a must. Why are you even planting roses on your balcony if you don’t plan on having cascading blooms decorate your space?! Likewise, use hanging planters to suspend your roses from the balcony railing – make someone’s day with the charm of a rose or two peeking from your balcony!
If you have a bit more space on your balcony, consider building or purchasing a small and simple water fountain or a pond that fits your decor. It is surprising how small yet effective some water fountains can be! Look at your local florist shop – you might be amazed to find a vertical one that fits on your windowsill!
For a bit of a spacious balcony, choose patio chairs that can be pushed into the table to give a bit more space to pass when you’re not using them. If you are short on space, opt for a thick outdoor rug, some blankets, pillows and soft seats and enjoy your rose garden from the floor.
How to take care of roses in containers and pots on a balcony
Roses in containers need care that is more committed than those grown in the garden. This is simply due to the fact that you are doing everything that Mother Nature would usually be doing herself. However, general care guidelines are the same for all roses.
- Water regularly! Soil should be a bit moist, but not wet. Avoid over-watering or under-watering and be attentive to the needs of your rose. Well-rooted roses need to be watered up to 5 times a week. However, younger roses will do well with watering once or twice weekly. Be consistent as roses prefer a big drink of water rather than several smaller waterings.
- Feed the roses often! Use organic fertilisers to feed your roses for more blooms. Feed in the spring once new growth appears, and then after each blooming (every 2 to 3 weeks). Stop fertilising 8 weeks prior to the first frost, as this is not the time to be motivating new growths.
- Prune! Potted roses need to be pruned too! Deadhead as usual to combat pests and diseases, keeping the shears clean and cutting at a 45 degree angle.
- Repot every three or so years to keep the soil fresh! Switch out the top soil every year and add quality compost.
- Keep the surface of the soil clean of weeds, rot and fallen leaves and debris. Rake it every few weeks to allow better circulation of air and nutrients.
Best tips for growing potted roses on balconies
- Location, location, location! Choose south-facing balconies for best possible yield, as they get the most sunlight. For morning sun, choose east-facing balconies. Essentially, any balcony orientation will do, except north-facing ones, in which case you might need to get grow lights.
- When choosing a rose variety to plant, keep in mind its final size and figure out whether that is something you can accommodate. If not, look for a variety that will be a better fit!
- Carefully choose the container type. Clay containers are usually better! Avoid black plastic pots as they tend to overheat the soil.
- Provide a repotted rose with aftercare. Do not put it directly into sunlight – rather, allow it to get morning sun while sheltering it for a few days.
- For an additional layer of love, add the all-natural mint compost to the surface of the soil. Not only is it very sustainable, but it actually improves water retention in the soil.
- Don’t be afraid to move your roses around the balcony to figure out which spots are the best of them and where they thrive! That is what the charm of container gardening is all about.
How To ‘Theme’ Your Balcony Rose Garden
If you want to make a true show-stopper of a rose garden on your balcony, you’ll want to incorporate some sort of loose theme to bring everything together. For this, you’ll want to use Pinterest, or you can gather together armfuls of decor magazines and get cutting!
Simply pick a theme that you’d like. Location themes can be really beautiful! Give your balcony garden a morrocan theme with nanging and standing lanterns, tealights, blue patterned tiles and floor cushions.
Give your balcony a rustic look by adding striped and faded rugs, faded cushions, stripped wooden furniture, and chintzy tea pots.
Choose a colorful theme by adding multiple cushions, big blooming bright rose varieties, giant bright candles, bright pots and maybe even paint your balcony!
And of course whatever theme you want to choose, you’re going to want to add pretty lighting.
Hopefully, this post brings you a few steps closer to design, plant and grow a rose garden on your balcony! Now you have no excuses at all – grab some garden gloves and get straight to work!
But, while you’re still here with us, maybe read about how to grow roses fast. I know, I know…I’m also very impatient to see the blooms 🙂