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Growing Austin roses in containers in a Mediterranean climate

MinaLoy
8 years ago

Hello,

I am new to this forum and new to gardening but have been reading the boards for a while, marvelling at all the knowledge and passion out there. I would love some advice if anyone can spare the time!

We have recently moved to Lucca, in Tuscany, Italy. The climate is coldish, wet winters and hot summers which can be either dry or humid. At the moment we have a terrace, so everything needs to be grown in pots (in 18 months- 2 years things could be planted into a garden, but not before). The terrace gets a lot of sun in the morning, then in the afternoon it's part sun, part shade. I'm quite flexible about the position of plants and happy to move them as necessary.

A relative has offered to buy me a couple of plants as a house-warming gift and I would especially love to get a couple of David Austins or Bourbons, as I love the multi-petalled, globular or cupped shapes, and I adore fragrant roses. I'm not sure if this is madness given the heat/container combination...

There are nurserys in Tuscany with decent selections of both DAs and Bourbons, but I find the choice overwhelming, and I know containers aren't the ideal home for most roses - so I'd love advice or recommendations about which one a) grow well in containers, b) do well and reflower in the heat and c) are fairly resistant, as I'm a novice!

Ideally I'd love a dark rose (William Shakespeare, Dark Lady, Falstaff), a mid-pink (Louise Odier, Alnwick,Brother Cadfel) and something pale and peachy (The Shepardess, Wollerton Old Hall, Shropshire Lad, Jude the Obscure, St Cecilia)

Also, is it too late in the year to purchase and repot a container rose in a hot climate - would I be better to wait until Autumn and get container plants/ bare roots? If it's possible I'd love to have some late summer/ autumn blooms...

Thank you in advance...

Comments (37)

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    I'm not experienced growing roses in containers, but I think some of the roses you listed are rather large for containers, and William Shakespeare (assuming you mean William Shakespeare 2000 and NOT the earlier William Shakespeare that it replaces) definitely would not be a good candidate for a container, in my opinion. Will 2000 is a rather awkward growing bush--likes to spread (awkwardly) in a horizontal direction. Some posters claim their Will 2000 spreads 6 ft wide--mine spreads at least 5 ft wide and looks like it is working on on 5.5 ft wide. The ends of those branches are often excessively heavy with heavy branching and blooming and need to be propped up with some kind of support.

    If you want a smaller good Austin that blooms nearly the same shade as Will 2000, try Munstead Wood. It grows about 3x3 and I can imagine it in a container--and the blooms are GORGEOUS!

    You can find out more info. about any of those roses at this very helpful site: helpmefind.com

    By the way, Louise Odier is not an Austin rose--although she is lovely.

    My understanding is that a container rose can be planted almost any time--but if it is hot there, I'd rig up some kind of temporary shade for a newly planted rose--a lawn chair casting a shadow on it, if nothing else. I'd do that for a couple weeks or until the rose looks like it is really taking off in its new home.

    Good luck.

    Kate

    This post was edited by dublinbay on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 11:23

  • carol_se_pa_6
    8 years ago

    Katie,

    Jude the Obscure is a huge bush here in the Philadelphia area and I don't think it would do well in a container. If you do a search on this and the rose forum for small DA roses or DA in containers, you should find good information. There is a poster on this forum who also lives in the Tuscany. I can't remember her name but I am sure she would be a wealth of information for you. BTW, I was in Italy and Tuscany earlier this year and loved it, great food, people and scenery.

    Good luck

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  • joshtx
    8 years ago

    There is a rose Mr. Austin says does great in a Meditteranean environment....hmm...think, think, think. It may be The Shepherdess if I am not mistaken?

  • michaelg
    8 years ago

    You can repot a potted rose at any time. It may want some temporary shade if the root ball breaks up.

    The long-caned bourbons like Louise Odier are huge plants, not suitable for containers, and they are highly susceptible to disease. The dwarf tea-bourbons (mainly Souvenir de la Malmaison and its sports such as Kronprizessin Viktoria) can be kept to 3 x 3 feet and they are somewhat resistant to blackspot disease. They may get mildew during the cool months. They have beautiful, fragrant flowers and lots of them, if the plants are happy. They enjoy hot weather.

    For Austins that don't get too big for normal pots, you could look at Munstead Wood, Prospero, Carding Mill, Pretty Jessica, The Prince, Tamora, Sharifa Asma, Scepter'd Isle, and Molineux.

    We have a regular poster in N. Italy and an occasional poster from Sardinia.

  • nanadollZ7 SWIdaho
    8 years ago

    I, too, think Munstead Wood might make a good large pot plant for the time being. It has gorgeous wine red blooms, and is one of the most beautifully scented Austins, I think. Brother Cadfael and Jude the Obscure would be too large for containers, in my opinion. Other smaller Austins already mentioned that I think might be good for your situation are Tamora and The Prince. Even Princess Alexandra of Kent might be a possibility. She blooms big, uniquely colored, salmonish pink flowers nonstop. Diane

  • seil zone 6b MI
    8 years ago

    My climate is far from Mediterranean but I grew Graham Thomas in a large pot for about 5 years. He got to be about 6 to 7 feet tall and around 4 feet wide. I had a small trellis in the pot for the last couple of years because he needed help standing up. When we dug the new bed he got a good spot in it. He's nearly 10 feet tall now.

    The thing you need to remember is that all potted roses eventually will become root bound and will need to be root pruned and given fresh soil. How long that takes depends on the rose, the size of the pot and the climate. I have to do mine every 4 or 5 years but I know in warm climates that goes down to about every 2 or 3 years because of the longer growing season.

  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    8 years ago

    I also would say to try Souvenir de la Malmaison, which is practically my best bloomer in hot summer weather, and is fragrant and beautiful. Pretty Jessica is an Austin that stays small and has lovely flowers, as does Leveson-Gower, another small Bourbon with a rich purplish-pink flower.

    Ingrid

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thank you for all the suggestions and tips re shade, repotting etc. It is heartening to hear that it's possible to grow DAs / Bourbons in my conditions even though they are probably bred for a different climate and situation.

    Lots of recommendations for Munstead rose, I've looked it up and it's absolutely gorgeous and sounds ideal so I think that's probably a definite. Thank you. I will look into the Shepherdess since JoshTx you're right that DA recommends it for a mediterranean climate, plus Souvenir de la Malmaison and Pretty Jessica are lovely. Still hard to choose but you're helping me narrow it down!

  • melissa_thefarm
    8 years ago

    Katie,
    I can't help you with your question about roses for pots, but you're getting a lot of good information from others. This is to say, welcome to Italy!
    I live in the province of Piacenza in northern Italy, have a good-sized garden and a lot of roses, mainly old and older, shrubby varieties. I think the Austin roses are beautiful, but they mostly don't care for my spartan conditions.
    Lucca's a beautiful area, what I've seen of it, and there are some places around there that have earth that is the soil of dreams. I hope you get some of that ground! Up here we struggle with clay; if I pay attention to what I'm doing I get some good results. It depends.
    Again, welcome to Italy, and to the forum!
    Melissa

  • joshtx
    8 years ago

    I am going to jump back in here and add that Sharifa Asma may also be a great candidate for you. Not only will her fragrance knock you right out of your gardening gloves, but for me here in blazing hot, humid Texas, she is disease free without spraying, and she rarely gets a hose turned on her.

    I would toss Jude into the same category, but perhaps even more appropriate for your needs. Sharifa Asma tends to throw fits whenever she feels crowded in a pot, and for me this resulted in her dropping her oldest leaves and then regrowing them within 2 weeks. Jude the Obscure, on the other hand, hung out on my porch in the maddening heat in nothing more than his plastic nursery pot, and would've bloomed his head off if I hadn't pinched him at every opportunity. He never caught disease, and never threw a diva fit like Sharifa did.

    Best of luck!

  • rosefolly
    8 years ago

    I grew WS2000 in a pot for several years. It was an own root cutting I rooted. It had a much nicer shrub form than its grafted sibling growing in the ground, but I don't know which of the two factors was responsible, the pot or growing on its own roots.

    There is an earlier Austin rose that is famous for its ability to handle heat, Charles Rennie Macintosh. Mine bloomed through the summer heat when everything else shut down. It tends to be thorny and big, so you'd want a large pot. But then a large pot is a good idea for just about any rose. Just don't plant it where you would be forced to brush closely by.

    Rosefolly

  • Poorbutroserich Susan Nashville
    8 years ago

    Welcome Katie. If you request a copy of the Austin catalog you will find suggestions for roses in pots and roses best in certain climates. Not to mention it is total eye candy!
    I have the Dark Lady, and as some others on this forum, it is not dark. More crimson. Gorgeous but crimson. Heritage is a fine smelling rose. It's done fine for me own root in a pot. I'm in Nashville. Hot, humid summer.
    Susan

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Wow, thank you all SO much! It's amazing to receive all this detailed advice so quickly! You all so welcoming and encouraging to a complete rose beginner, which is wonderful, as growing roses can seem very intimidating.

    I am pretty setttled on the Munstead Rose from all your comments, and after Josh Tx's encouraing words about growing it in a pot I think I'll also risk it and get Jude the Obscure, since I adore the shape of the blooms and DA does say it likes a Mediterranean climate... hopefully the pots will only be a temporary home.

    Sharifa Asma, Souvenir de la Malmaison and Heritage are all going on my wish list (maybe for winter bare-rooters - or do you recommend container plants?). I'm trying to ease myself into the rose habit gradually, I can see it would be easy to become addicted! Charles Renee Mackintosh is gorgeous but unfortunately I haven't seen it listed at the nurseries here. I'm also considering Comte de Chambord - not a Bourbon or DA I know, but a neighbour has it and has been evangelical in recommending it, and hers is rather lovely...

    Melissa, thank you for the welcome to Italy! Piacenza is also beautiful -all those castle and rolling hills! Lucca and the surrounding area is indeed very fertile - Pistoia is nursery heaven and there are many gorgeous rose gardens in Tuscany which inspire me - I hope to progress from pots and get some of that soil at some point!

  • gnabonnand
    8 years ago

    Heritage does great for me, but I'd take that one off your list for growing in a container. Mine got big really fast.

    Randy

  • strawchicago z5
    8 years ago

    Hi Katie: I once searched for small Austins ... some of the names folks recommended: Lady Emma Hamilton, Prospero, Pretty Jessica, The Alnwick rose, Princess Alexandra of Kent, the Prince.

    My William Shakespeare 2000 own-root is the size of a mini-rose in its 3rd year. My Mary Magdalene is peachy-white, very small also, great myrrh scent.

    I also post a link to English Roses Forum, where Daisy in Crete posted her beautiful garden, you can see her Lady Emma Hamilton in that link.

    My Comte de Chambord is very small, did better in the pot than in the ground. See the pic. of its bloom below. Its scent is BEST among my 58 fragrant own-root roses (I have 15 Austins & many Romanticas).

    Here is a link that might be useful: Daisy in Crete garden

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jul 5, 13 at 22:24

  • melissa_thefarm
    8 years ago

    Katie,
    I'm ALWAYS glad to hear of another gardener in my adopted country! I wish you a great future growing things here!
    Like your neighbor I have a high opinion of 'Comte de Chambord', and though it belongs to a different class, it's quite similar in habit and style to 'Sharifa Asma', one of the few Austins that does quite well for me, and I believe would pair very nicely with it. Both are stoutly upright shrubs, not too tall, and both are very fragrant. They're good tough roses, too.
    Have fun gardening, and stay in touch!
    Melissa
    P.S. I see we have been found out. The beauty of Piacenza is normally one of Italy's best-kept secrets.

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Strawberryhill and Melissa, thank you! I think you've sold Comte de Chambord to me, I'll swap it for heritage on my list and check out those others you mention. I'd love Pretty Jessica not only for the flowers and compact size, but as its my sister's name (I couldn't get a rose with an ugly name) but it seems harder to find here. Oh dear, with gardenweb's help my list is getting dangerously long!

    Daisy's garden in Crete is fabulous and full of inspiration for good companion and hot-weather plants! Thanks for sharing it.

    Strawberryhill, I notice you mention yours are own-root... The DA / Old rose nurserys close to me sell grafted, does this make a difference for containers? (I realise this is a big topic and should probably search for this separately) It just seemed sensible to buy roses that don't have to travel far, rather than getting them from the UK, although I'm sure that's up for debate too.

    Melissa, thank you for the welcome to Italy! I'll keep quiet about Piacenza so you're not overrun with visitors! I only stumbled across it due to my Italian other-half - he loves Emilia (and its wonderful food) and you're not so far from us here in Tuscany.

  • strawchicago z5
    8 years ago

    Hi KatieLucca: Comte de Chambord stays compact regardless of rootstock. My Austin own-roots are smaller than grafted. I saw pics. of W.S. 2000 grafted on Dr. Huey with 5 feet or 1.5 meters octopus canes.

    My W.S. 2000 is the exception, tiny as own-root. My other own-root Austins are big, not suitable for containers. If I don't trim Scepter'd Isle, it'll get 4' x 3' .... another cold-zoner stated that Scepter'd Isle should be in a park, and not in a small garden.

    For my own-roots, Marie Pavie, Marie Daly and floribundas are smaller than Austins. Marie Pavie (white, low-thorn), and Marie Daly (pink, low-thorn and smaller bush) are better choices than Mary Magdalene, very thorny. Ingrid's suggestion of Souvenir de la Malmaison is great, that's also low-thorn.

    Comte de Chambord's has tiny prickles, but lower ... I never get poked when I cut the blooms for the vase. For container, I would choose a low-thorn rose that doesn't require pruning.

    Found the pages in David Austin's catalog that listed roses for containers; Princess Alexander of Kent (thorny but compact), Lady of Shalot (lots of blooms), Darcey Bussell, Bejamin Britten (thorny) ... other recommended varieties: Ambridge rose, Anne Boleyn, Bishop's Castle, Carding Mill, Charlotte, Grace, Harlow Carr (thorny), Lady Emma Hamilton (low thorn), Mary Rose (prickly), Molineux (low-thorn), Princess Anne, Sophy's Rose, Tamora (thorny), The Alnwick's rose, and Young Lycidas.

    I'm a bit surprised that Sharifa Asma is not listed on David Austin's recommended roses for containers. There was an older thread that folks placed Ambridge Rose as smaller than Sharifa Asma.

    Stlgal in zone 5 compiled a listed of Austins' thorns, here's what she wrote:

    "Thorniest: Munstead Wood, Noble Antony, Harlowe Carr, The Countryman, Gertrude Jekyll, Mayflower, Sharifa asma, Falstaff, Lady of Megginch, Tamora.

    Moderate: Strawberry Hill, Graham Thomas, The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild, Teasing Georgia, Abraham Darby, Christopher Marlowe, Mary Rose, William Shakespeare, Jubilee Celebration, Jude the Obscure

    Low-thorn: Lady Emma Hamilton, Young Lycidas, Crown Princess Margareta, Brother Cadfael, Golden Celebration, Shropshire Lad, Evelyn, Heritage, James Galway, Port Sunlight, Pegasus."

    In HMF, someone in Romania, zone 6, listed his/her 4-years old Munstead Wood as 170 cm x over 200 cm wide, which translate to 5.6 feet tall by 6.6 feet wide. See link below:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Munstead Wood in zone 6, HMF

    This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, Jul 6, 13 at 12:45

  • strawchicago z5
    8 years ago

    The breeder Paul Barden has an excellent website where he describes the size of each Austin, with The Prince (reddish purple) as the smallest 2 feet tall, next smallest is Prospero, 2.5 feet tall. Sharifa Asma is listed as 3 to 5 feet tall. See link below:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Paul Barden's site on Austin roses

  • jerijen
    8 years ago

    But, like everything else, "it depends."

    The Prince has never grown vigorously for me, but it IS about 3 ft. tall.
    I was out this morning deadheading Prospero, and I noted that he's now not much short of 5-ft in height. And, yes, it has taken him some considerable time to get there, but still ...

    I should also say that, if you don't go pruning him, Prospero is capable of blooming non-stop, through most of the year. He is just short of China-like in his bloom-production.

    Tamora and Ambridge Rose were both on the small side for us (short of 3 ft., for sure) BUT both of them rusted like crazy, so they are long-gone).

    Jeri

  • joshtx
    8 years ago

    I am so dull sometimes!

    AMBRIDGE ROSE:

    I literally cannot say enough good words about this little guy in my climate. I have two of them, both own-root, and they are barely year old plants that were bought as one gallons. I have never been so smitten with a rose. The blooms last for a good 3-5 days on the bush before they need deadheading. The fragrance is impeccable: it is a mix of a subtle myrrh, a sweet perfume, and an earthy tone. It does not sound good, but every time a new bloom opens I run outside to plow my nose as deep into the bloom as I can. It is incredibly black spot resistant, and has been quite vigorous for me; it has nearly tripled in size since I got it home 3 months ago. The blooms started out as a very pale cream color, but once established and more mature the color is my favorite out of all of my roses in the garden (including many Austins). The shape of the bush is very mannerly, upright for the most part as mine are just now starting to spread a bit after sending all of their new shoots up. My young plants have already thrown up new basal canes.

    After a frustrating year with very finicky and moody Austins trying to get settled into the garden (Pat Austin *cough cough*), this plant makes me want to stand up and slow clap for Mr. Austin and say well done, sir.

    Josh

    p.s. I know Mrs. Jennings has told me that Ambridge Rose in her garden was a rust bucket. I'm not sure if rust occurs in your area.

  • melissa_thefarm
    8 years ago

    About rust in Italy, I've seen it in my garden only twice in a dozen years, both times when we had several weeks of rainy weather in late spring, which is not the usual pattern. I don't consider rust a problem, in other words. I don't do disease prevention or treatment.

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Thank you strawberryhill and Jeri for the useful information on sizes... Interesting, even if it can't be taken as an absolute rule as there are exceptions. I don't need something that needs to live in a pot forever, but it does need to be happy there for a couple of years.

    Prospero has been mentioned a couple of times but it isn't grown by the local nurseries, same goes for the Prince.

    Josh you did a great job of selling the Ambridge rose! Its sounds heavenly and looks beautiful. Since Melissa says that rust isn't a big issue for her (we have basically the same climate) i think I'm adding it to my list, which is getting worryingly long! I think registering on garden web will turn out to be bad for my wallet...

  • Annalyssa
    8 years ago

    Hi KatieLucca!

    We're practically neighbours and both starting our rose gardening... I somehow feel connected, so hello!!
    I was wondering where are you thinking of going to get your roses?

    Annalyssa

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Hi Annalyssa!

    I've been looking at Mondo Rose (Sieci, near Firenze) who have a big selection of old and English roses, and Barni (Pistoia). There are lots of vivai around Pistoia generally but I'm not sure about rose specialists aside from these two.

    If you can wait til September there is also Murabilia, a big gardening festival in Lucca from 6th-8th, I think both Barni and Mondo Rose will be there, and there is a section devoted to roses...

    Good luck with your rose garden! It's exciting to be starting out, isn't it.

  • MinaLoy
    Original Author
    8 years ago

    Daisy, thanks for the advice, and congratulations on your wonderful garden which another poster linked to. Both of your potted roses are gorgeous, I can understand your reluctance to get rid of Pat Austin, she's stunning. I'm interested to see how bright pink Munstead Wood looks compared to the other, much darker photos I've seen - is that the photo or do crimson roses usually become pinker in the heat?

  • Annalyssa
    8 years ago

    Yes, the Munstead Woods I've seen at Mondo Rose (which is AMAZING, KatieLucca!! :)) are so much darker and bluer.

    Daisy, those are stunning! Are the dianthus and geranium growing in the same pot as the Munstead Wood? It doesn't get too crowded? So inspiring.

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    Daisy, I think you got a mis-labeled rose. The rose in your pic looks more like Austin's Lycidas than like Munstead Woods. Here is my Munstead Woods, for comparison. It is never that lighter pink color shown in your pic.

    Munstead Woods
    {{gwi:215625}}

    What do you think?

    Kate

  • daisyincrete Z10? 905feet/275 metres
    8 years ago

    Here is a photo of my Munstead Wood's first bloom.

    {{gwi:276742}}

    As you can see, it is deeper in colour than the later blooms, but not as dark as your's Kate.

    I had Young Lycidas in the same delivery. It flowered earlier in the summer and did look like it's photos.
    I didn't take a photo of it yet, and as both Munstead Wood and Young Lycidas are at present without any flowers, all I can do, is see how they look in the late summer.
    Munstead Wood might be darker in hue in the cooler weather.
    Daisy

  • strawchicago z5
    8 years ago

    Hi Daisy: You are right, I look at the form of the rose, yours is Munstead Wood. You have sandy alkaline soil ... in alkaline soil the color is much lighter. Full sun and warmer temp. makes the color lighter.

    Kim (Roseseek) sent me Gina's Rose ... we had cool weather, plus it was in an acidic potting soil, and partial shade. The color was very dark-red. But when I planted it in full-sun, in my alkaline clay ... it changed to pinkish red, much lighter.

  • Kippy
    8 years ago

    I think the heat changes the color in Munstead Wood

    here is mine feeling rather hot magenta

    {{gwi:276743}}

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    Well, it's quite hot here in Kansas and my Munstead Woods is getting ready to start its second cycle of blooming--lots of buds--so it will be interesting to see if its hot mid-summer color is lighter than its cooler spring bloom. I'll update you in a few days here.

    Daisy, don't get me wrong. Whatever your rosy bloom is, it is gorgeous--as is your Pat Austin--awesome!

    Kate : )

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    Repeat deleted.

    This post was edited by dublinbay on Fri, Jul 12, 13 at 13:11

  • Kippy
    8 years ago

    I am looking forward to seeing Kate!

    The first flush this year was even more hot pink!

    And check out the one cane of thorns it sent out:

    {{gwi:276744}}

    Ouch

  • dublinbay z6 (KS)
    8 years ago

    Maybe the heat does lighten Munstead Wood a bit, but not by much in my zone6 Kansas garden.

    Here is the first bloom on the second bloom cycle of my new Munstead Wood. Temps have been around 90. I took this pic this morning. To me, this bloom is a bit lighter than the spring bloom, but not as light and red (with no purples) as the other pics posted above.
    {{gwi:276745}}

    For ease of comparison, here is the earlier pic I posted of MW during its spring bloom cycle. There do seem to be some darker shades and more purple in this spring bloom, but I don't see a lot of difference--maybe more petals on the spring bloom, but colorwise, they are close.
    {{gwi:215625}}

    Now the question will be, what color will my MW be when our temps reach and stay at 100+ degrees. You know that is coming--I'm just thankful it hasn't happened yet. Last year at this time, we were already stuck in the 100s!

    Well, whatever color it is, I still think Munstead Wood is one of the most gorgeous roses I've seen in some time! Actually, I'm nuts about her--with or without her purple highlights! LOL

    Kate

  • Mountie
    7 years ago

    daisyincrete,

    Your photos are beautiful! Your Munstead Wood looks a bit like Princess Anne.