Roses can be one of the most daunting but rewarding plants to grow at home. There’s a lot of elitism around the best types of roses to grow, the right conditions to grow them in, and how much care you put into their maintenance.
However, roses don’t need to be this overwhelming. In fact, it can be easy to grow them on a balcony in a few different ways.
We’ll cover all the different ways to grow roses on a balcony, and we’ll also talk about what you need to know beforehand.
Things to Know Before Getting Started
There are thousands of types of roses available to domestic growers. So, where do you start when it comes to choosing the best type for your balcony?
For balcony growing, it’s worth breaking down the main types we can use. Bear in mind, these can all be grown in pots but they give different results.
Bush roses are ones that grow around 3ft. in height and are shaped, unsurprisingly, like bushes. Within this category are:
- Miniature roses – these are simply small versions of larger rambling or climbing rose bushes.
- Hybrid tea roses – these produce one large flower per stem, making them ideal for cut roses. They’re one of the most popular kinds because there’s so much variety.
- Floribunda roses – these produce a cluster of flowers on each stem, which are smaller than hybrid teas. However, they’re a good compromise between flower and plant size.
Also known as creeping roses, ramblers grow long, flexible stems that can be trained up a trellis or along a railing. They can grow up to 20ft. in height and have a typical spread of 6ft. or more.
Similar to ramblers, climbers have rigid, woody main stems. They’re better suited for growing up walls or along arches where you don’t need as much flexibility in the stems themselves. They’re also smaller (up to 12ft.), making them better suited to small spaces.
While you can grow roses from seed, it’s not worth the effort. There are so many kinds of roses available as established plants that you’d just be making more work for yourself.
Plus, a big thing in rose growing is grafted plants. In short, these are when the rootstock (roots and stem) of one type has a bud of another type grafted on top. You end up with a plant based on the bud, but growers choose rootstock varieties that are disease resistant. The benefit this offers far outweighs the effort of growing roses from seed.
Roses generally like full sun and well-draining soil. You can grow them in partial shade but they won’t be as happy in full shade. However, if that’s all you’ve got, you’ll be able to find special varieties that’ll get on better.
Roses need a lot of fertilizer to stay happy, and you’ll want to add lots of organic matter to the pots every year.
You need to prune roses annually to keep them in shape. Of course, if your vibe is overgrown, then you can leave them be! Trimming back climbing or rambling roses for the first few years can help them to establish strong bases and bushier growth, making them look a lot nicer.
How you prune your roses will depend on the type and growth pattern you want. There are too many options to mention here, so just do plenty of research once you’ve chosen your type.
Roses need protecting during the colder months, especially if they’re grown in pots. The easiest option is to mulch the soil (adding a thick layer of organic matter). Hay, straw, grass or leaves all work fine for this. Alternatively, you could use old blankets or cloth bags to insulate the pot.
But if you expect your winter temperatures to drop below freezing for extended periods, it’ll be easiest to just bring your rose bush indoors if you can.
Most roses are perfectly happy to be grown in containers. Bush roses are the most obvious choice, as they’re smaller and more compact. However, you can grow climbing and rambling roses in planters, provided they’re big enough.
For larger roses, look for containers at least 16” in diameter and 23” in depth. Choose smaller varieties of climbers and ramblers, and don’t expect them to reach full size.
Also, bear in mind that container growing means you’ll need to put a lot of work into keeping the soil full of nutrients. You might even need to add organic matter twice a year or more depending on the size and maturity of your plant.
3 Ways to Grow Roses on a Balcony
We’ll focus on 3 main methods here: growing a bush in a pot, growing a miniature rose up a trellis, and growing a rambling rose along a balcony railing. Of course, you can adapt these methods to suit your type of rose or the growing support you’ll use.
Method 1: Growing a Bush Rose in a Planter
This is by far the easiest method. Your options might be a bit overwhelming, but some names to look out for include:
- Arthur Bell
- Hot Chocolate
- Pink Paradise
- Blue Moon
- Chicago Peace
The easiest way to pick is to go to a local plant store and see what they have. While you could buy a plant online, doing it this way helps to narrow down your options!
You’ll also need:
The steps are as follows:
1. Soak your rose in water for 20 minutes or so before planting out.
2. During this time, prepare your new planter. Put some broken pot or stones in the bottom and add some soil.
3. Remove the rose from its nursery pot and place in the planter.
4. Fill the planter with soil, pressing down as you go. If you’ve bought rose food, either sprinkle on the soil or add it as you’re filling the pot.
5. Give the plant a good watering and place in the sun.
You can expect a bush rose to grow a few small stems in its first year. You’ll want to cut these back fairly hard at the end of the growing season, as this’ll promote vigorous growth the following year. From here, prune gently to help it grow into a bushy shape – you can expect a well-established plant after 3 years or so.
Method 2: Growing a Miniature Bush Rose Up a Trellis
Growing a miniature rose in a pot basically follows the same method as the bush rose. The only difference is that we’ll use a trellis (such as this) to support the plant. You can use any type of trellis you choose, although miniature roses look nice grown up a circular trellis (like this).
Some options for mini roses include:
- Little Artist
- Gourmet Popcorn
- Dancing Flame
- Carrot Top
- Black Jade
All you need to do is poke the trellis into the pot after you’ve planted the rose. However, you could even wait until the second growing season to do this, as you’ll cut most of the first year’s growth back.
From year 2, you can start training the rose up the trellis. Try to avoid stems crossing over each other. To do this, grow them up opposing sides, tying in place with some string. Pruning the tops of stems each year will encourage bushier growth the following year.
Method 3: Growing a Rambling Rose Along a Balcony Railing
The basic method for growing rambling roses also isn’t very different. Rambling or climbing roses are best for balcony railings or similar, as they grow very quickly and can easily fill a whole railing in a few years. As such, they can work well as privacy screens, although they’ll lose their foliage in the colder months.
Some varieties to look out for include:
- Wedding Day
- Super Fairy
- Rambling Rector
You’ll want a much bigger planter this time (such as this). Rambling roses can get massive and they grow very quickly. As such, you’ll want to provide them with a decent amount of root space if you can. If you’re working with a smaller balcony, consider switching to a climbing rose instead. The method given here works for them too.
Again, you’ll want to plant out your rose bush following the method above. This time, though, it’ll help to mix some organic matter into the soil if you can. Use manure or compost if you can get some, although this obviously won’t be practical for everyone. If you can’t get hold of any organic matter, just make sure you use plenty of slow-release fertilizer (such as this).
From the plant’s second year onwards, you can begin training it around your railing or up the wall. Rambling roses grow very quickly and typically flower once around June. For a prolonged flowering season, deadhead before they turn into hips. This’ll help divert the plant’s energy into producing more flowers.
As you can see, growing roses really isn’t that difficult. Provided you feed them enough, they’re fairly forgiving plants. The hardest part of the whole process is choosing the right rose, simply because there are so many!