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Potting Soil for Roses

rose bush image by Yurok Aleksandrovich from

Roses make beautiful and useful container plants. Placed on a suburban patio or an urban balcony, the potted rose brings freshness, color and fragrance closer to the house. One key to successful container rose gardening is using the right potting soil.


Roses grown in containers have special needs. They are prone to drought, nutrient deficiency and mineral buildup. Properly mixed soil will address these concerns.


The soil for potted roses should be well-drained, but still be able to hold enough water so it doesn’t have to be constantly watered. Like all rose soils, it needs to contain adequate amounts of organic matter for nutrition. The mix should be light enough to provide soil aeration to roots.

Commercial Potting Soil

High-quality commercial potting soils are usually composed of peat moss for water retention and vermiculite and perlite for drainage. These mixes are light and airy. Commercial potting mixes, being so light and sterile, are not ideal for growing roses. You will need to amend them with other garden materials to enhance water retention and nutrition.

Preparing the Mix

Mix about one-third commercial potting soil with one-third garden compost and one-third well-rotted manure. In the absence of compost or manure, two-thirds potting soil can be used instead. Add enough rose fertilizer for one feeding according to label directions. Mix thoroughly.

Pot Selection

Pots should be at least 15 inches in height and width to allow room for roots to grow and the soil to remain moist. Plastic pots keep water from draining through the sides of the container. Foam pots insulate the soil from the heat of sun. Soils in terra cotta pots dry out quickly. Place a piece of bronze or nylon screening over the pot’s hole before filling it to keep the soil from washing out of the pot with each watering.

Watering and Nutrition

Potted soils dry out quickly, so pay attention daily to make sure they stay moist. Because water washes through potted soils so quickly, regular fertilization is necessary. Fertilize with a commercial rose fertilizer according to the instructions provided for potted roses.


Potted soils become compacted and mineral-logged because of constant watering, evaporation and regular use of fertilizers. It is best to replace the soil about every second or third year, moving the rose to a larger pot if needed.

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