Advice wanted about transplanting a rose

I have a small rose bush that I grew from “Blue for You” seeds, currently growing in a 12 inch cube container with a miniature “Angel Wings” rose (which right now has a few deep pink flowers on it, the flowers deeper pink than usual in the cold weather). I treasure the “Blue for You” most, as it is the only one that has survived from the seeds I planted, and I have several “Angel Wings”, but I still like the “Angel Wings” and would like both to survive.

My questions are, is late December an ok time of year to be splitting them into separate pots? Also what size pot should I ideally transplant the “Blue for You” seedling into? It is currently about 12 inches tall and bushy. I want to give the “Blue for You” seedling the best place for light, it still has all its leaves, as does its parent. Would it be ok to keep the “Blue for You” seedling in the 12 inch cube pot, and move the “Angel Wings” to a bigger pot?

“Blue for You” is supposed to grow to about 3 or 4 feet tall eventually, maximum height 1.5 metres, which is about 4.5 feet, nearly as tall as an adult. It is considered suitable for growing in pots, and my parent “Blue for You” plant is doing very well in a huge pot.

Any tips on keeping the “Blue for You” seedling alive? Do I have to be very careful separating the roots of the two roses growing in the same 12 inch cube pot, or should I sacrifice the “Angel Wings” completely, as I have several of them and they are far easier to reproduce? I don’t like sacrificing them, but if I have to to keep the “Blue for You” alive, then so be it.

In my limited experience with “Angel Wings”, they were especially beautiful in their second year from seed, probably maximum height of about two and a half feet tall, absolutely covered with small flowers and then bright red small hips, but last year, their third year, they didn’t seem to be flowering much and I cut them back a lot, though for some reason last year was odd for a lot of things in the garden and it was cold until well into June. I got fed up with them taking over space with a lot of leaves and few flowers. One “Angel Wings” that I did get rid of last summer had grown to about two and a half feet tall and very bushy, and its roots were completely taking up a large pot.

Another question is whether it is ok to grow small spring flowers such as Aubretia and Violets in a pot with a rose? Will their roots be big enough to deprive the rose? Would planting spring bulbs in a pot with a rose deprive the rose’s roots, given that after flowering spring bulbs retreat back into the bulb? Are small bulbs like snowdrops and crocuses better than large bulbs like hyacinths in this respect? One advantage I noticed is that as soon as flowers appear, aphids seem to suddenly disappear, maybe due to all the hoverflies and their larvae which eat aphids, although my “Blue for You” has never been particularly susceptible to aphids, but my “Angel Wings” are.

But my main question is how best to keep my most treasured “Blue for You” seedling alive and thriving, whether I can transplant it in late December, and what size pot it should eventually need, and whether the 12 inch cube pot is adequate for it for a year or so? (And would putting a Violet (Viola odorata) in the 12 inch pot with it deprive it of root space?)

As long as the weather where you are is cool and damp, and particularly if there are good chances of rain, you shouldn’t have any problems keeping both alive and well. The whole issue is preventing them from drying out before they settle in and generate the root system necessary to support themselves. Blue for You here out grows a fifteen gallon nursery can. It’s happiest when it can find a route for its roots to hit the soil under it. We’re in the low sixties during the day and into the high thirties to low forties at night with all the heavy dew and dampness to make it genuinely uncomfortable. Even bare rooting the plants, with this kind of weather, you should easily be able to replant them, water them well and just keep them watered for perfect survival. We’re also warned to expect nearly 2" of rain by Tuesday, so if I had the energy and wanted to separate and replant, I’d be out there doing it. If this sounds similar to your conditions, go for it!

Thanks for this information. We have finally hit the rainy season, absolutely pouring with rain most days, as of a few weeks ago, and the weather is mostly mild with the occasional cold spell. I am on the south coast of England, so we have comparatively mild winters that very rarely go below 0 degrees Centigrade (32 degrees Fahrenheit, the freezing point of water). Most years we don’t have any snow. Right now the temperature is around 12 degrees Centigrade (53.6 Fahrenheit). It seems the volume of a cube with 12 inch sides is 7.5 gallons, presumably when filled to the very top, so your 15 gallon nursery can would be more than twice the size of my container, allowing for a couple of inches at the top.

Do rose roots go down deep or do they spread out horizonatally near the surface of the soil? It does look as though at some stage my Blue for You seedling will need a bigger pot.

You’re welcome. Rose roots go where the soil and water permit them to go. My yard is engineered soil, physically compacted to resemble bed rock to provide seismic stability WHEN the next earthquake occurs. The “drainage” is extremely slow as there is very little air space between the soil particles. While nasty for gardening, it is ideal for seismic safety and required by building codes. All of my roses are in large nursery cans. There are areas which are covered with “weed cloth” (NASTY stuff from the pits of Hades designed specifically to generate profit for its creators and retailers) which are then “mulched” with rock to prevent the need for maintenance (NOT my idea) and “weeds”. Except, soil blows in on the wind and organic material breaks down and settle into the rocks on top of the weed cloth where grass, weed and other seeds germinate perfectly. As soil washes from the nursery cans, it also settles into the rocks, allowing the rose roots to find their way into the rocks, above AND below the weed cloth where they will run for YARDS very quickly. They can’t really penetrate too deeply into the soil but they easily run across the lowest layer they are able to penetrate and will continue doing so until they are interrupted. The longest I have pulled and followed before cutting it off was over 7’ (2. something meters). Reportedly, the feeder roots spread out much past the plant’s drip zone so if the plant spreads three, four or more feet from the crown of the plant, the feeder roots spread out even further to enable the plant to absorb moisture and decaying debris from around the plant. And, from experience, Mermaid and Dr. Huey roots will regenerate from the material left after digging over 6’ deep to “get it all”. Anecdotally, an old garden volunteer from The Huntington Library, many years ago planted a Mermaid by the chimney of his small Hollywood bungalow. The bed it was in was quite small, between the house foundation, the drive and front walk. Mermaid ATE his house. He had it dug out numerous times and it resurrected each time. Supposedly, the final time, he had the bed excavated to 10’. He passed away. Mermaid CAME BACK. So, much like the dumb old joke about “where does a 300 pound gorilla sleep? ANYWHERE he wants to!”. Where will rose roots go? ANYWHERE they are able! I rooted less than an inch and a half long cuttings of Hi and Si, the tiny micro minis at The Huntington Library in their mist propagator decades ago. The short cuttings had nearly foot long roots. Never under estimate a rose!

Mermaid looks beautiful, a 30 foot climber, that David Austin gives the warning “caution, exceptionally tall”.

Mermaid IS a beauty and it IS huge. There were four, own root plants on this huge, iron structure at The Huntington Library. One died and the replacement rooted plant filled the hole in just a few, short years. 'Mermaid ' Rose Photo 'Mermaid ' Rose Photo and 'Mermaid ' Rose Photo, Alas, Mermaid is no longer holding her pride of place. Tom Carruth had her removed due to “safety concerns”. Imagine my amusement when a friend and I discovered these plants the owners were TRYING to keep to this very short section of wall. They were (may still be) on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, CA.
'Mermaid ' Rose Photo
'Mermaid ' Rose Photo
'Mermaid ' Rose Photo

The owners of a nursery I worked for in Pacific Palisades used Mermaid as a security fence. They had 70 or so feet of wrought iron fencing around a concealed corner at a side street intersection on Sunset Blvd, two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. That end of Sunset is pretty dead at night and people would break into the nursery fairly regularly. Once Mermaid slip covered the length of the fence, the break ins stopped. Wonder why…

Mermaid seems to have some nice thorns, a perfect security fence. Maybe the very best rose for that kind of situation.

I managed to separate the Angel Wings from the Blue for You (seedling). I pulled on the Angel Wings, wearing a gardening glove as it does have a few thorns, and reached down into its roots to try to get its main root system without disturbing the Blue for You. The Angel Wings roots seemed to come out mostly whole. I kept the Blue for You in the 12 inch cube container and added some fresh compost, and transplanted the Angel Wings into completely fresh compost mixed with perlite, with some coconut coir in the bottom few inches, as well as drainage material at the very bottom, in a pot 15 inches tall and 16 inches diameter.

I hope the Angel Wings survives, as it is still flowering quite well giving good colour for mid December, with deeper pink flowers, but I really didn’t want to empty the whole pot out and disturb the treasured Blue for You. I don’t think the Blue for You is ready for its ultimate sized pot yet, the 12 inch cube pot is probably best for it for maybe the next twelve months.

Photographs below of the Angel Wings.

As long as it’s cool and damp, and particularly if it’s raining, you should have no issues. Good luck!

Kim, in view of potential root damage, would you suggest some moderate pruning to balance root/shoot ratio and reduce the demand for resources? I personally might be inclined to remove blossoms and buds as well as a little of the tender new growth.

Yes ma’am. When you transplant an established plant, you usually wish to balance the top to the remaining roots. Tops won’t be generated until there are roots (except for when the plant or cutting receives what stimulates it to grow tops in place of roots and those fail) and if you’ve removed half the roots, usually at least half the top will die back. Not always, but very often. But, long periods of rain, where the plant remains constantly bathed in moisture, can significantly reduce the top loss as all that water stimulates growth of the entire plant while helping to support the top until sufficient roots are generated. Putting transplanted plants under mist to retain all the possible growth has worked perfectly in commercial applications. Sequoia, among other mini nurseries, used it quite well. If you don’t have mist or if you aren’t certain of the reliability of the rains, reduce the top to match the bottom and you should be just fine. I hope you removed enough of the root from the Blue for You seedling to prevent the Angel Wings from regenerating. It’s a multiflora so you could well have it reappear in the other pot!

That would be a “yes sir,” Kim. :wink:

Oops, sorry! I didn’t pay attention to who was responding that time.