Ask a Question forum: Oversaturation of roses in large pots

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Name: Joan Bell
Mercer Island, WA (Zone 8b)
JuanaCam
Sep 15, 2014 2:42 PM CST
What should I do for oversaturation of roses in large pots?
the leaves a re turning yellow and dropping. the buds are drooping because the stems are too thin.
Please help.
Thanks,
Joan
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Sep 15, 2014 4:57 PM CST
If the problem is too much water in the soil, a short-term band-aid is to set the pot on top of something very absorbent like a towel. Maybe an old pair of denim jeans or several thicknesses of cotton Tee shirts.

Holes in the bottom of the pot MUST be in contact with the towel and soil must come right to the holes so the soil touches the towel, or it won't work. If you have coarse rocks or broken pots blocking the holes, you won't get the soil to touch the towel.

Once the soil makes contact with the towel, the dry towel will pull water out of the soil by capillary attraction. The rest of the towel will wick that water away form the pot, and more water will wick out to keep the towel under the pot exactly as wet as the soil in the bottom of the pot.

Eventually the towel would saturate with water and flow would stop ... BUT ...

If the pot is up on some shelf or stool or cinder blocks, you can trail one end of the towel DOWN and away from the pot. The farther it can hang DOWN, the more gravity will help water flow from the pot into the top of the towel, then DOWN the towel and drip away or evaporate away.

If you do that, you have a continuous wick that uses capillary attraction PLUS gravity to pull excess water, even perched water, out of the pot.

A long-term solution would be to re-pot with faster-draining potting soil. Can you re-pot roses in containers? Can you knock old soil off their roots and still avoid huge transplant shock?

For example, starting with whatever potting soil you use now, add lots of very coarse Perlite, and/or a moderate amount of bark nuggets. Pine, fir and balsam are what I was taught were "best", but some use hardwood bark.

Bark nuggets are coarser than Perlite and MUCH cheaper. They last 3-5 years in a pot, unlike peat moss.

Or, if your current potting mix ALLOWS a plant to become water-logged, maybe shopping for a different starting point would be smart. If you're paying lots more for the plant than for the soil, consider the old adage: "don't plant a 25-cent plant in a 5-cent hole".

I guess that was updated for inflation several decades ago:
“Don't put a five dollar tree in a fifty cent hole,”

Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 15, 2014 5:04 PM CST
Another possibility, if you were considering up-potting that rose withOUT replacing the current soil.

Prepare the new pot with somewhat faster-draining mix, but NOT so different from the current soil that water won't wick smoothly from the old soil to the new.

Pull the old plant out of its pot and set it down on the dangling towel for long enough for it to drain and evaporate some of the excess water. Encourage any loose old soil to fall off, as long as you can re-pot the remaining rootball without too much stress.

Re-pot and water it less than you used to. Maybe shelter the pot from rain if it might rain excessively.

All this is general ideas based on "growing in containers", not from any experience growing roses in pots. If experienced rose-growers have suggestions, consider their ideas first!

But putting a dangling towel under that pot should give the plant some temporary relief from water-logged soil, if that is the main problem.

If the towel can't reach the soil through the holes, MAYBE you could tuck a wick into the holes far enough to touch the soil. Besides cotton, acrylic felt and yarn have been praised for their wicking ability.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Sep 15, 2014 6:18 PM CST
How long have those roses been in pots? The soil in pots can turn to nasty, sticky clay over a very few years. I lost a lovely rose that I had in a large container and when I dug it out, the soil was similar to potter's clay.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Sep 15, 2014 6:28 PM CST

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Also, make sure that the rose roots aren't clogging the drainage holes in the pot. I usually add some holes on the sides, close to the bottom, just in case.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 15, 2014 6:33 PM CST
Joan, could you post a picture of the whole bush? How big is that pot? Is the rose bush a standard variety or a dwarf or miniature? (they do better in pots than big ones do)

Roses are heavy feeders and develop large, deep root systems, so I'm suspecting that overwatering isn't the only problem there.

My brother lives on Vancouver Island and has been bragging about the wonderful summer weather you've had up there. After a nice warm, sunny August, that rose should have canes as thick as your fingers and should be looking very robust. I think your rose bush has run out of nutrients in that pot. Repotting now with a whole lot of new soil, and some rich amendments like some alfalfa pellets (know anyone with a horse?) will stimulate new growth which isn't necessarily a great thing this late in the season. New growth is more frost-tender than hardened growth.

Unless you're prepared to protect that pot from freezing and frosts through the winter, I'd wait until next spring and start again with potting soil plus compost plus, plus aged manure plus any other rich amendments you can get. Use a slow-release fertilizer so it will have a constant supply and not run out. As soon as you see new growth in spring - little red shoots on the canes - start fertilizing.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill

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