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Potted History: The Best Peter Beales Roses for Container Planting

One of the world leaders in rose cultivation, Britain’s own Peter Beales Roses, has an unrivalled breadth of experience and archive of wisdom about growing and tending the ‘Queen of Flowers’. Here, we take a look at caring for potted plants and some of the best roses for planting into containers.

The demand for roses supplied in containers has steadily increased and tends to peak during the summer months. The big advantage of buying a rose planted in a container (rather than bare rooted), is that a good root system will have already started to develop. If purchased in summer, there will be the added advantage of the rose being in flower, bringing an instant boost of colour and fragrance to the garden. Whilst most roses are ultimately planted out, with the right care and attention, there are many varieties that will also thrive well in pots.

Water of Life

With their lavish flowers and often strong fragrance, it’s no surprise that roses need a lot of food, water and sunlight, and this is doubly true of roses kept in pots, which require significantly more water than those planted out. Be especially mindful of this during hot summer days, when roses in pots require daily watering, especially when they’re flowering, and more frequently on very hot days, with a pot saucer to retain water. As well as putting the plant under stress, insufficient watering can also contribute to the development of rose diseases. It is difficult to overwater a rose, but they won’t like having their roots sitting in cold water for long periods. Make sure their containers have drainage holes and, ideally, a drainage layer at the bottom of the growing media to ensure they don’t get soggy bottoms.

Food for Queens

As well as being thirsty, roses are also very hungry plants and should be regularly fed to stay looking their best, with maximum blooms and strong, healthy growth. This is as true of young, first-year plants as it is of robust 50-year-old ramblers. We recommend mixing the growing media with fish, blood, and bone or something like Vitax Q4 that contains all essential trace elements and nutrients. You should then start a feeding regime after undertaking a late-winter prune in February. Apply the slow-release feed at the time of planting, then again in June and a final feed in August, then keep this up every two weeks throughout the flowering period with a high potash liquid feed.

This image shows just how much difference regular feeding makes. Both ‘Frilly Cuff’ roses were pruned at the same time to the same height but, whilst one was liquid fed fortnightly, the other hasn’t been fed at all. The plant that received a regular feed is much bigger, healthier and is bursting with buds. Many feeds are available, but the one we would most recommend is Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic, which we used for this demonstration. Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic will not only encourage strong healthy growth but will also increase disease resistance.

Peter Beales Top Pick: Roses for Containers

Timeless Pink

‘Timeless Pink’ is one of the most robust and healthiest of hybrid tea roses with a superb rich fragrance. With its mid pink double flowers that bloom all summer long, this makes a good cutting rose and is perfect for a pot. Hardy and tolerant of poorer soils. Bred by Noack.

Macmillan Nurse

‘Macmillan Nurse’ is an excellent little shrub rose with old-fashioned, rosette style blooms of white, initially flushed peach, borne in clusters. They are subtly scented and prolific throughout the summer and autumn against dark green, glossy, foliage. Shade tolerant, this rose is perfect for growing in tubs and makes an eye-catching statement if used as a hedge to edge your home. An incredibly healthy and rightly popular rose. Bred by Beales.


‘Bonica’ is a soft pink modern shrub with semi-double blooms on a vigorous, bushy plant with dark, leathery foliage. This is a superb variety that will work well planted in containers. Bred by Meiland.

Champagne Moment

Rose of the Year 2006, the ‘Champagne Moment’ (Lions-Rose on the Continent) Floribunda is the perfect present for any occasion worth toasting! Clusters of pinky buds open to medium creamy white blooms with an apricot centre and pleasing fragrance. With its dark glossy foliage, this rose is tolerant of poorer soils and can also be grown well in a pot. Bred by Kordes.

Designer Sunset

‘Designer Sunset’ is a lightly scented, semi-double patio floribunda rose of salmon-pink with blends of red, yellow and cream. With lovely bright green, glossy foliage, this is a fairly thorny rose bush that can be grown in containers. Bred by Pearce.

Absolutely Fabulous

This ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ (‘Julia Child’) Floribunda was Rose of the year 2010. With its large clusters of repeat flowering, butter yellow, fully double blooms with an unusual myrrh scent, this award-winning rose is an ideal specimen for the garden or for growing in a pot where space is limited. If blooms are cut, they last well within an arrangement. Hardy and tolerant of poorer soils, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ is very healthy and free flowering. Bred by Carruth/Weeks.


The pretty ‘Ballerina’ is a Hybrid Musk rose with abundant sprays of small single, pink blooms with a white centre, which will yield lovely winter hips if not deadheaded. Tolerant of poorer soils and shade, ‘Ballerina’ is suitable to be used for cut flowers, grown in a container and also as a hedge. A delightful dainty and showy shrub. Bred by Bentall.

Queen Bee

‘Always Remember’ our ‘Queen Bee’ Floribunda rose, which has a beautiful peach blended, semi double frilled, open cupped flowers, borne in clusters and dark green foliage with low bushy growth. Suitable for growing in a container. Bred by Tantau.

You’re Beautiful, AKA Love Always

The ‘Love Always’ Floribunda was Rose of the Year 2013. This gorgeous rose produces a profusion of striking bright pink, fully double blooms and is disease resistant and hardy with glossy foliage. This rose is suitable to be grown in a container and as a hedge. Tolerant of poorer soils. Introduced by Fryers.

Oxford Physic Rose

Bred by Peter Beales to celebrate the Oxford Botanic Garden’s 400th anniversary in 2001, the exquisite ‘Oxford Physic Rose’ fits beautifully within our Peter Beales ‘Modern Classic’ collection, holding all the charm and characteristics that gardeners over the years have come to love from an old-fashioned shrub rose, but at the same time it carries all the health and robustness of a modern day rose. The silky, shell pink blooms are open cup in shape and lend themselves perfectly to pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies. The scent is particularly reminiscent of a classic rose; gently sweet, mild and lasting.

Growing to approximately 120cm (4ft) in height, the rose alone will make the perfect specimen plant within your garden or equally the rose is outstanding placed in the middle of a border surrounded by herbaceous plants, such as Campanulas, Salvias, Lavenders, Asters and Hardy Geraniums. Being so versatile, if you planted the rose next to a wall or fence the young stems can also be trained to form a small climber.

How to buy

All the featured roses are available to buy from, with bare root plants priced at RRP £21.00 and potted plants priced at RRP £28.50.