How to Care for a Potted Rose Tree

Tree roses, also called rose standards, are "manufactured" rose plants, not naturally occurring plant forms. A bushy rose variety, either miniature or normal size, is grafted onto a long, upright trunk, forming the appearance of a small tree full of roses. These popular specimen roses are more expensive than regular rose bushes, so protect your investment by taking good care of the plant.

Site your potted tree rose in a spot that receives full sun, or at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Avoid placing the rose in a windy spot, such as the corner of your house.

Water tree roses often enough to keep the soil moist, and water at the roots, not from overhead. You must use a container with good drainage to prevent root rot. Container-grown roses need watering more often than those planted in garden beds.

Mulch the top of the container to conserve moisture in the pot. Using an organic material such as pine bark will also help to enrich the soil.

Feed your plants often with a fertiliser formulated for roses. Follow the package directions carefully for application amounts. Begin fertilising your roses in the spring when new growth begins to show.

Prune as you would any rose, by cutting spent blossoms back to a five-leaflet leaf. Make a slanted cut just above an outward-facing bud. Remove suckers from the roots, as well as broken or diseased branches, whenever seen. Disinfect your pruners between cuts by dipping into alcohol or a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.

Check often for signs of disease or insect damage, and if found, spray with a fungicide or insecticide formulated for roses. Many rose growers use an all-in-one systemic rose care product, which combines fertiliser, fungicide and insecticide in one mixture that is applied to the roots on a regular schedule.

Stop pruning and fertilising the rose after September, according to the Maryland Rose Society. This allows the tree rose to go dormant in a natural way, preparing it for cold weather.

Clean out any debris from the container to prevent disease or insects from overwintering near your rose.

Move the container to a sheltered building, such as an unheated garage. If you don't have such an area, move the plant close to the house.

Protect the trunk and graft unions on your tree rose by wrapping them with plumber's foam pipe-insulation, available at hardware stores. Secure the insulation with duct tape. Use additional insulation, if necessary, to completely protect the graft unions. There will one graft at the top, where the stem joins the flowering part of the shrub, and there may also be one at soil level.

Mound leaves or other loose material around the container to protect the roots. Use burlap, boards or chicken wire to contain the leaves. In extremely cold areas of the country, extend this leaf protection all the way up the plant, covering the upper portions as well as the roots.

Remove the rose covering in spring, after frost but before new growth begins. It is best to remove the covering in stages over several days.

Prune off any dead branches or stems that cross in the centre of the plant. Purdue University recommends cutting the remaining canes back to 8 to 12 inches. Always disinfect pruners between cuts.

Top-dress the soil in the container with a 1- to 2-inch layer of compost or other organic material. Water well.


Placing the plant where it receives early morning sun will help prevent fungal diseases by allowing the leaves to dry quickly in the morning.


Don't leave the insulation and leaves on your tree rose any longer than necessary in the spring, in order to prevent disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Container with drainage
  • Mulch
  • Rose fertiliser
  • Pruners
  • Alcohol or household bleach
  • Insecticide and fungicide, or all-in-one systemic rose product
  • Plumber's pipe-insulation foam
  • Duct tape
  • Leaves or straw
  • Burlap, boards or chicken wire
  • Compost
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About the Author

Marie Roper began writing in 1987, preparing sales and training materials for Citadel, Inc. and then newsletters for Fullerton Garden Center. A trained horticulturist, she was a garden designer and adult-education teacher for the USDA Graduate School in Washington, D.C. Roper has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Maryland.