Abracadabra! I’m a Rose, but Will I Survive in a Container?

… That’s the million dollar question.

I’ve never had any inclination to grow roses until an unusual striped variety growing in a friend’s garden, caught my attention. It was love at first sight and I wanted one!

Abracadabra - Hybrid Tea Rose
Abracadabra  Rose
Abracadabra- Hybrid Tea Rose
Abracadabra Rose

A woman on a mission I went in search of this mystery rose.

Armed with a picture of the rose on my phone, I found a member of staff at a garden centre in Lagos.
‘Do you stock this variety of rose?’ I said, pointing to the picture.’
‘Yes’, said the young man, as he walked ahead while indicating I was to follow.

I was taken to in the furthest corner of the garden centre where there were a few to choose from. Unfortunately, the only one in bloom was the runt of the litter and having been cheated on colour a few months ago with some daisies, I was taking no chances.

Clutching my latest acquisition, and keen to discover the secrets of rose husbandry I proceeded to ask him some further questions.

‘Will this be okay in a pot?’

‘Yes, it’s a Portuguese rose.’

‘What type of soil does it prefer?’

Young man shrugs.

‘Any, it’s a Portuguese Rose.’

Anxious to give the rose the best possible start, I persisted.

‘What about sun. Does it prefer sun or shade?’

Sigh, followed by shrug.

‘Any, it’s a Portuguese rose.’

‘What about watering?’




I did consider asking his advice re  feeding then changed my mind as I muttered under by breath: I might as well gone to Lidls for all the help you are.

At this point I should have left without the rose but persuading my husband to stop at yet another garden centre was pushing my luck.  And, as the saying goes: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

I bought a bag of compost, paid and left.

Maybe Mr. Google would be more help. Seriously? I am surprised by the difference in advice offered. The most reliable source (in my opinion) seemed to be the rose growers.

Will an Abracadabra rose grow in a Container?

From what I can glean on the internet not all roses grow well in containers. It is advisable to grow miniature, compact ground or climbing roses and dependent on rose, containers should be between a minimum of 9 to 18 inches deep.

Well, so much for the ‘Portuguese rose’ and the shrug. Is it a miniature variety – who knows? According to Rogue Valley Roses the Abracadabra rose appears to be related to the Miniature Hocus Pocus, so fingers crossed.

WHAT Type of soil should I use for container grown roses?

After extensive research, roses growing in containers  grow best in a loamy soil. Or  sandy, if it is kept well watered. What is a loamy soil you may well ask. From what I can ascertain, loam refers to texture. While it retains moisture it is also free-draining. The most useful definition I found was over at The Spruce

When to Fertilize

As we don’t have frost it seems I start to fertilize when I have four to six inches of new growth and a leaflet with five to seven leaves. I assume that is at the start of the growing season after the rose has been pruned back for the winter.  Do I stop fertilizing once the rose is pruned back? Adapting advice, as you can see, is trial and error. *Nope, rewind, apparently that does not apply to miniature roses.

How Often?

Because roses are greedy the fertiliser in the compost will quickly be depleted within the first month. I’ve also noted that some roses grown in containers require regular feeding with water-soluble fertilizer as well as other forms of fertilizer, while miniature *roses should only be fed water soluble fertilizer.

Roses also require a pH 6.0 to 6.5
Note to self: I need to buy another soil testing kit.
Heirloom Roses

Sun or Shade?

The day after I potted up my new rose we had a heat wave with the temperature soaring to over 40C in the shade. More by luck than judgement I’d positioned the pot in the semi-shade. Then I read that roses require full sun, so once the heat wave was over, I moved it. Then I read elsewhere not ALL roses like full sun.The rule of thumb seems to be 6hrs sun but not mid afternoon sun.

Abracadabra - Hybrid Tea Rose
My Abracadabra Rose July 2018

I can only say since moving it is now one unhappy rose and the next strong man to appear in our garden will be bribed with a beer to help me move it to another location.

Abracadabra the leaves are turning brown!
Abracadabra the leaves are turning brown! August 2018
The leaves are turning brown
The leaves are turning brown

Three months later it is now one sickly looking rose so the sooner it is moved the better. That will teach me to call it the runt!


It gets watered about three times a week. I use a moisture meter to check moisture levels so I don’t over water.

Abracadabra rose - Oct 2018
Abracadabra rose – Oct 2018

Now I wonder if that is too much or not enough or if there is adequate drainage.

Abracadabra rose - new shoots (Oct 2018)
Abracadabra rose – new shoots (Oct 2018)


Maybe there’s hope. I’ve just spotted some new shoots growing, so perhaps all is not lost.

If this rose dies, I will stick to growing hibiscus which seem to flower or year round and are not so needy.

If anyone has any tips on growing roses, PLEASE share in the comment box below.







13 thoughts on “Abracadabra! I’m a Rose, but Will I Survive in a Container?

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  1. Maybe I’m a little late with this. I hope not. I bought a red and yellow Portuguese rose in Auchan this past Spring. It’s huge now. Definitly not a miniature. I always cut the flower stems and put the roses in water. They get so big. Never seen such big roses. It’s very thirsty and gets plenty of water every evening. I’ve fertilized it maybe four times. I’m wondering when or if I should cut it all the way back for Winter (in Tavira).


  2. I used to have lots of roses in several varieties. Honestly I think it was just dumb luck they all thrived as I did not do much to care for them. Just pruned them back here and there and made sure they were kept watered and that was that. Now those were large ones planted outside. I have tried several times to keep miniature roses in pots but one thing or another always leads to their demise. Last time they were attacked by spider mites and I did not realize that was the problem until it was way too late to save them. I did get one new one this summer which so far still lives. It is in a hanging basket that I kept in a partly shaded area outside on my porch (also where it could get rained on when the weather agreed to it) and made sure to keep it watered. It has turned cold now and I just brought it inside last night. I have a hunch I won’t be able to keep it alive over winter but we shall see. I do adore roses. I miss having lots of them since I moved to a new place. I have no plans to plant any where I am now though. I do not intend to stay where I am any longer than I must so I want to save my efforts for my next home which will hopefully be where I settle down for good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks CW. I’d not even considered to keep an eye out for red spider mite. Thinking about your rose in the basket makes me wonder if the roots get too hot/cold in the pots.

      Fingers crossed you will be able to move on to your new home quickly so you can once again enjoy your roses.


  3. Miniature roses are easier in containers because they are (obviously) more proportionate to their confinement. If it gets bigger than expected, it will be very important to prune it next winter! That is the main problem I encounter with roses (an many other plants). They just do not get pruned enough. Miniature roses do not need to be pruned as aggressively. If it produces new canes, they should be kept but tipped back while older and gnarlier stems get pruned out. That will be next winter of course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi and welcome, Rose 🙂 Yes, hubby punched plenty of drainage holes.

      After further research I think it objected to being in full sun. Full sun was at times high 30C so it looks like it crisped the leaves. Since taking the photographs there are even more new shoots and these look healthy (temps have now dropped to max 25C. I’ll check out the links, thank you 🙂


  4. Sorry, no help here. We have half a dozen that my daughter bought from a specialist rose place a couple of years ago.
    They were all planted out and after a year my kid started to ignore them – novelty having worn off.
    I water them once a week along with the rest of the garden and fertilize about once a month with some of the run off from the pond – liquid fertilizer ( fish poo!).
    Pruning is erratic I’m afraid, and we lost one to borer beetle.
    The rose gets a hole at the top of one of its stems so you have to paint some pink stuff on them(?)

    That’s all I know.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Have no idea about fig tree damage. We have a large one that seeded itself -via a bird’s bottom – I reckon, growing behind an old storeroom. But it will soon be removed as the roots can be quite invasive and cause damage.

        Liked by 1 person

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