Knock Out Roses Look Fabulous in Pots

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Posted by @LarryR on
In the past several years, the Knock Out series of roses has enjoyed great popularity among gardeners. These roses grow well under all kinds of garden conditions, but did you know that they do well in pots too?

Planting the "thriller"
Planted tub nearing completion 

Recently, during Maifest in the Amanas, I was asked to give a presentation on flowers grown in the old communal Amana Society.  The highlight of the presentation was the planting of an old washtub with traditional Amana flower varieties.

The general convention for arranging any planting in a pot requires:

  • a "thriller" (the tallest plant in the pot, providing a focus for the planting),
  • a "filler" (a shorter plant that fills the space around the thriller), and
  • a "spiller" (a low growing plant that spills over the side of a pot).

For the thriller, I chose a pink double Knock Out Rose.  Old passalong roses were very popular in communal Amana, so I wanted to represent them in the planting.  The problem with those roses is that they are far too large and rangy to be used in a pot.  What's more, most of them bloom for a relatively short period in spring, so using them as a thriller would require constant pruning and no flowers for the rest of the season.

Enter the Knock Out Rose.  It blooms from spring through fall, grows to a mature height of only three feet, isn't bothered by blackspot or other rose diseases, and at season's end can be planted in the garden to enjoy for many years to come.

For the filler, I chose a geranium.  Geraniums (pelargoniums) were also very popular in Old Amana.  They decorated windowsills in the wintertime and were planted out in beds during the growing season.  If the gardener had lots of geraniums (they root very easily as cuttings), he or she might choose to winter some or all of them bare root in paper sacks in unheated basements where the temperature didn't drop to freezing.

Main entrance to our gardens (note potted double red Knock Out)

The spiller, I decided, would be alyssum.  I chose it because it is an old garden annual (again, quite popular in Old Amana) that is being rediscovered by modern gardeners.  It has several qualities to recommend it.  It makes an ideal spiller because it will cascade over the edge of the tub without reaching the ground and running wild or being nipped by a passing lawnmower.  It also mounds somewhat, hiding the legginess that may develop on geranium stems later in the season.  Alyssum imparts a great fragrance that can perfume a whole garden bed with just a few plants.  It also self sows, which is a quality that was much appreciated by gardeners of old.

Whether you're new to pot culture or an old hand at it, give Knock Out roses a try.  They're also quite stunning in a pot all by themselves and come in red and yellow, too.  You will have the advantage of moving the rose around to wherever it will receive the best light or look the best in your gardening scheme.

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Is that a Dwarf Knockout? by clintbrown Feb 16, 2014 8:02 PM 31
Never woulda thought of that! by KyWoods Jun 19, 2012 9:31 AM 52
Very nice! by Trish May 30, 2012 4:32 PM 1

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