My container garden: growing roses

By: Ariana Palmieri

Ahhh, the red, red rose. These, are by far my favorite flowers of all time. From their fragrance to their symbolism, roses fail to grow boring in my eyes. My dream is to one day own a garden and grow several things, but above all else it will certainly be a rose garden.

I’ve read time and time again that roses are difficult to grow. While I’ve experienced some…set backs, I don’t necessarily agree. Granted, I only have space to grow mini ones, they have never demanded much more than love, sunlight, and water. If you want to grow roses, don’t be intimidated by what you read online. You can do it!

I have to be honest: I’ve tried growing them from seed and failed. It was very disappointing. For Valentines day I received a cute rose growing kit but it just never bloomed despite me following the directions. I’m assuming it was just too cold to grow even though I kept it under my snake’s personal lamp light- YES, I HAVE A SNAKE and I assure you I’ll be writing about him on this blog eventually.

I would love to try and grow roses from seed again. Maybe now that it’s summer they’ll actually grow and have the right conditions to flourish.

My mini-rose tradition

For me, summer and spring do not officially start until I put potted mini roses on my windowsill. It’s like a necessity: the warm weather rolls around and I start staring at my windowsill, wondering where the heck my roses are. As if they should just materialize out of thin air.

It’s quite the opposite actually- picking my mini-roses is a big deal. They have to be perfect and epitomize exactly what I want to draw into my life. Let me explain: according to symbolism, every rose color means something different. You probably innately know that the red rose symbolizes love and romance. But did you know that yellow roses can symbolize joy and friendship? Or that pink roses symbolize love, gratitude and appreciation? Eventually, I will delve into this symbolism, as well as more fun facts about the rose, on this blog but for now I’ll keep it short and sweet.

The point is, every year since I started doing this I carefully decided which color rose I wanted based on what I was drawn to, feeling and what the rose color meant. It wasn’t like I was going to the store and grabbing the first rose I saw. I put a lot of time into thinking it over, which may sound silly to some.

Yet here’s the ironic part: those that really think about the plants they want produce better plants. You’d think it’d be common sense but it’s not.

Too often do I hear about people receiving plants as gifts they don’t really want and too often do I hear about it dying. If you don’t care for the plant or don’t truly want it like you thought you did, chances are it won’t stick around very long.

My first roses

One rainy day I decided I wanted to finally grow something. My windowsill was empty and before that moment I had never grown anything. I was a complete novice. But I needed to try.

I went to the Pathmark right by my house and walked around the small area where all the plants are sold. Immediately my eyes gravitated towards the pink mini-roses. It’s funny: most people don’t think plants can communicate with you but at that very moment I felt like, more than anything, those roses wanted me to take them home. So I did.

I felt so happy. Just holding the roses close to me and staring at their cute pink buds that promised life was so invigorating. I had purchased my first plant and to top it all off it was my favorite color.

You want to know what?

Out of all the roses I’ve bought, they were the ones that grew the best so far. I still find myself missing them. I felt a bond with that plant and I could tell it was happy because it lasted so long: straight into Fall actually. It tore me apart to get rid of it but I knew I had to since it became infested and overrun with spider webs.

Yet it was that plant that got me started on gardening. When you garden, no matter the space you choose to do it in, it is so much more than just sowing and watering some seeds. It’s forming a bond with the plant that not even you can fully understand.

My second rose plant

My second rose plant didn’t do nearly as well. The second year I decided to buy another one but this time I wanted a yellow one. Unfortunately it didn’t last throughout the whole summer.

 Despite me watering it the same exact way (once a day, everyday) just like the other plant, it ceased to thrive. I’m convinced it was because I didn’t give it enough attention. I used to talk more to the pink flowers and science has proven plants grow better when they’re talked to in a soothing way.

I feel this happened because I kind of still missed my pink roses and couldn’t bring myself to love the yellow ones nearly as much. I’m sure they could sense that, somehow. Plus, I sort of rushed getting them. It wasn’t as well thought out.

My third (and current) rose plant

Now these are really something. I bought them at Trader Joe’s. The only thing I don’t like about
buying roses off the shelves is how they tend to not label the species I’m buying. There are a lot of different rose types and I can tell by the shape, color, foliage and scent of my roses that they’re different species each year.

I’ve run into a few problems with them (gnats, yellowing leaves, foliage losing vibrancy) but they’re still pulling through. They share the windowsill with my basil and I feel that the two of them are a nice pair.

Some plants, I’ve read, aren’t compatible with other plants while others compliment each other. That’s why a lot of people like to grow cooking herbs together because they compliment each other and grow well.

If anything, sometimes my basil outshines my roses because of how tall and fragrant it is! But I make sure to give them equal attention. At first this beautiful plant wowed me with 16 buds growing at once! I made sure to collect all their dried flowers and saved them. Eventually, since they’re so fragrant, I plan on using them in a DIY project.

They don’t produce as many flowers now but I’m still so happy to see them every time I look on my windowsill. Their vibrant color and sweet smell always puts a smile on my face.

My advice to you

Give growing roses a shot. Don’t be afraid- except for their thorns of course! If you run into problems, don’t give up and toss them out.

 If you’re not sure how much water they need, how big a pot they need, or how to get rid of pests, don’t sweat it. The internet is full of great gardening resources and one of my favorite websites to utilize is

Personally, I water my roses based on the soil: if it’s still damp from yesterday’s watering, I’ll leave it alone or add a drop. Don’t even bother with a watering can: I just fill up empty water bottles and go to town.

I never bother to transfer my roses into another container, although I’m sure you could. They always grow pretty big and branch out so you probably could if you wanted a bigger bush. I just know I’ve had success keeping them in their normal containers, despite most of the containers not having drainage holes.

You’re bound to make some mistakes as a beginner in any plant you choose to care for but don’t let that discourage you. All you really need is love, water, and a little sunshine.

Do you grow roses? What are some of the things you do to keep them flourishing? Share your tips below!

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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