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Welcome to the August 2002 edition of my web site! The roses I write about are the Old Garden Roses and select shrub and miniature roses of the 20th century. For tips on rose culture, pruning, propagation and history, see "Other resources on this site". To return to this page, click on the "thorn icon" in the margin at left. Articles from the previous months are archived and can be viewed by clicking on the listings in the left margin. Oh, and please don't write to me for a catalog or pricelist.....this is an information site only.....not a commercial nursery. If you wish to buy roses, see my sponsor, The Uncommon Rose. Thanks!

by Dennis Konsmo
(This article reproduced with Dennis' permission. Thank you Dennis!)

Currently Dennis Konsmo is regarded as one of the best rose growers and showers in the United States. Those who have seen his garden know that he grows many of his roses in pots. Besides the reasons he gives, he has recently sold his home and in preparing for the move, he prepared a mobile garden, which will allow him to compete in the upcoming national rose show to be held in Seattle this spring. We thank Dennis for graciously providing us with his "secrets to successfully growing roses in pots". Editors

At right; A new seedling. Breeding: 'Rise'N' Shine' X 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'.

TYPE of POT: Plastic

SIZE of POT: 15 Gallon

SOIL MIX BASE: 1/3 by volume of sand, 1/3 black topsoil, 1/3 bark or sawdust. This three-way mix becomes the base ingredient.

PLUS: Mushroom compost at the rate of 25 % of the total volume. In a large batch it works out to be 8 yards of three-way mix and 4 yards of mushroom compost which produces a total of 12 yards. This combination is then called the soil mix.

AMENDMENT FORMULA: (Secret Potion) One cup of each of the following in each pot: Fish Meal, Bone Meal, Blood Mea,l Kelp Meal, Cottonseed Mea,l Treble Superphosphate 0-45-0, Dolomite Lime, Gypsum

PLANTING PROCEDURE: Fill 15 gallon black plastic pot approximately 1/3 full of well stirred soil mix. Add amendments and mix completely with soil in the bottom of the pot. Trim the rose bush roots to fit in the pot with approximately 2 inches of clearance all around the inside of the pot. Then trim the canes back to 12 inches or less. Soak the roots in water for several minutes. Preferably add a root transplant, shock hormone to the soaking water, which is very beneficial. Add 2 shovets of soil mix on top of amended soil which is in the bottom of pot. Try to keep the amendments (fish meal, kelp meal, etc,) from coming in direct contact with the roots. Fall planted bushes seem not to be adversely affected by such contact, but spring bushes have a tendency to have their new root hairs burned. The new bush is struggling to support the rapidly growing top, while at the same time trying to form new roots to support the upper growth. This amended soil is obviously a potent mix. The gentleman that bought my house accused me of feeding the roses better than most people eat!! Fill around the roots with additional soil mix until the pot is full. Water thoroughly to settle all soil tightly around the roots. Mound soil up over the bud union to about 6 to 8 inches up the canes. This mounding is imperative to assure the strong uninterrupted growth of the new rose bush.

WATERING AND FERTILIZING SCHEDULE: The bushes are watered every second or third day, at which time they are given approximately 1 gallon per bush. During hot weather spells the watering frequency is increased to every other day. The majority of the fertilizer applied is of the soluble type with applications being made approximately every 10 days. At the scheduled watering time, one gallon of Miracle Grow, Rapid Grow etc. at the concentration of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water is applied to each bush. In April and May a commercial dry fertilizer is applied once a month. A fertilizer with the formulation of 10-20-20, or any other available formulation, is applied to the surface and lightly scratched in. Use these dry formulations in a very conservative manner because potted roses do not like large doses of dry mix. The reason for this is that the feeder roots are near the surface of the soil. It takes too long for dry fertilizers to dissolve and become available in liquid form, and thus they can bum the hairlike, diffuse roots. One to two weeks before the first rose show, chelated iron is added in diluted liquid form at the rate of 1 teaspoon per gallon. This iron supplement can have quite a dramatic effect on the condition of the foliage and crispness of bloom color. Bushes are given extra heavy watering during the week of a show.

SPRAYING SCHEDULE: Preventive sprays are applied weekly. Liquid seaweed is added to these routine sprays at the rate of 3 tablespoons per gallon. The fungicides used are Rally and Triforine. They are sprayed alternately for two weeks and then together the third week. The insecticide used is 75% wettable powder Orthene, sprayed only as insects appear. If you are having trouble with burning the foliage as a result of your spraying, use wettable powders as much as possible. Powders that are water soluble usually do not bum if the directions are properly followed. The "carrier" based sprays (liquids in a bottle) bum because the "carrier" used can cause photo sensitivity in varying degrees. Liquid Orthene uses the petroleum based product xylene as a carrier. Sunlight and high temperatures can cause rapid sensitivity reactions (bum) by the leaf surfaces. Wettable powders are water based and rarely produce these sensitivity reactions (bum). Just remember that most liquid sprays have a petroleum base and that wettable powders are water based.

Increased soil temperature and thus, increased root temperature
More rapid bloom production
Controlled fertilizing and watering
More rapid bush development
Proper light environment may be selected for each rose variety

Roses must be repotted every three years
Extra winter protection is needed
Automatic water systems require special design
Lots of hand watering

At present my "temporary" garden contains 450 hybrid teas in 15 gallon pots. Each pot is black plastic and is placed on 6 mil. black poly plastic sheet. The combined effect of this planting procedure has resulted in rose bushes that are planted in March sending roots out the bottom of the pots by the first week of June. Your editors say that the reason the rose roots grow so well (fast) is because they, the roots, are trying to get out of (escape from) the pots!! Can quality hybrid teas be grown using the pot system? You be the judge. These recent rose show entries were all grown in pots:

Portland Spring Rose Show 1994 Sweepstakes: 'Asso di Cuori'
Portland Spring Rose Show 1995 Sweepstakes: 'Peter Frankenfeld'
Portland Spring Rose Show 1995 Runner Up: 'Lynn Anderson'
PNW District Rose Show 1994 Sweepstakes: 'Lynn Anderson'
PNW District Rose Show 1995 Sweepstakes: 'Savoy Hotel'
Vancouver Rose Show 1995 Sweepstakes: 'Lynn Anderson'
Vancouver Rose Show 1995 Runner Up: 'Keepsake'
Vancouver Rose Show 1995 Third: 'Asso di Cuori'

If you have a small area, try growing some roses in pots, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results you obtain.

Dennis Konsmo,
Consulting Rosarian, Tacoma Rose Society

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