Caring for Miniature Roses
Miniature roses are true roses that have been selectively bred to stay small in size. Most miniature roses have smaller flowers than standard rose bushes, but they come in the same variety of types and colors as their larger counterparts. Despite their petite size, miniature roses are extremely hardy. In fact, because they are propagated on their own roots (and not grafted onto the rootstock), they are more winter-hardy than most roses and tend to be profuse repeat bloomers.
Miniature roses have been in cultivation since the 17th century, but most originated as genetic mutations of old garden roses or China roses, which are native to Asia. They maintain many of the same core characteristics and also do best if planted in spring.
Miniature roses grow moderately quickly and work well in a border or as garden edging. They’re also especially nice as specimen plants in containers, where they can be brought closer to eye level and truly be seen and appreciated.
Plant and treat your miniature rose bushes the same way you would full-size roses. To plant, dig a hole the same depth as the pot the roses came in, and about a foot wider. Carefully remove the rose plant from the pot and gently loosen its roots. If the plant’s roots are tightly bound, use a sharp knife to score the sides of the root ball and try to loosen the roots.
Add some organic matter to the hole if your soil needs it, then place the rose bush in the center of the hole, with the roots spread out. Fill with soil and gently pat it down, watering thoroughly before you apply a layer of mulch. Because miniature roses’ roots are also smaller than standard roses’, the mulch will help protect the roots from the cold, as well as aid in moisture retention.
Like all roses, the miniature varietals thrive in full sun. Though they can tolerate a bit of shade, often times their foliage and flowers will become sparse in shady conditions. At least six to eight hours daily of sunlight should result in the best disease resistance and the most full, bloom-packed bush possible.
Roses like rich, well-drained and loamy soil. Miniature roses are also a favorite plant for patio containers. If you choose to go this route, don’t dig up soil from the garden to use in your pots. Instead, buy bags of potting soil—garden soil is too heavy and can compact with the frequent waterings needed for container plants, potentially suffocating the roots. Light, nutrient-rich potting soil drains well, helping the plant avoid root rot.
How much water your rose bush requires will depend on your soil and weather. As a general rule of thumb, you should provide roses at least 1 inch of water per week—this could mean daily waterings, every other day, or even just twice a week. Be sure to water deeply to promote good root development and aim your hose at the base of the plant to avoid spraying the delicate blooms directly. Due to their smaller roots, miniature roses may require more frequent watering during extreme heat when compared to their full-sized cousins.
Temperature & Humidity
Miniature roses can withstand a moderate range of temperatures but will do best around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They cannot withstand cold temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you’re expecting a drop, your best bet is to bring any bushes planted in containers indoors.
Although mini roses do quite well in containers, and you often see them sold as houseplants, many gardeners are disappointed by their performance indoors. Like traditional roses, they need full sunlight and medium humidity. To successfully grow them indoors, supplemental light and humidity are required.
Roses can be heavy feeders and since miniature roses continue blooming all season, regular fertilizing is essential. Use any commercial rose food or general all-purpose fertilizer, applied according to label instructions. To keep your plant healthy, feed it when the bush first leafs out and again after each heavy flush of blooms. Cease feeding your roses about six to eight weeks before the first expected frost to discourage new growth that could be killed back during winter.
Pruning Miniature Roses
As with other roses, you’ll want to prune miniature roses just before their new growth starts in late winter or early spring. Hard pruning is not necessary—simply prune dead or broken wood first, then trim back about one-third of the plant to maintain its shape and encourage new growth.
Preparing your miniature rose bushes properly for winter is important, though how your specific bush reacts to colder weather can depend on several factors, including the age of the plant, your hardiness zone, and more. Winterizing your plants will help protect them against too much damage, ensuring that a heavy frost or deep freeze doesn’t kill off your bush for good.
One of the most popular (and easiest) methods of overwintering any type of rose bush is called collaring. To utilize this method, begin by removing all the leaves (but not the hips) from the rose bush. Tie the bush up with twine and surround the bush with a wire hoop to form a “collar.” Fill the collar with drive leaves (like ones that have fallen from trees in your yard) to help insulate the branches, wrapping the entire bush with a layer of burlap if you’d like to as well. Cover the root zone and crown of the plant with additional soil, mulch, or straw to insulate the roots and protect them from heavy snow or ice.
Common Pests and Diseases
Unfortunately, miniature roses are subject to the same problems as larger roses, including black spot, a fungal disease. Powdery mildew can also be an issue. To avoid both of these inflictions, improve the air circulation around your roses by planting each bush a few feet apart and watering the plant from the base of the roots instead of overhead.
As with other roses, systemic rose-care products can also help prevent diseases and discourage pests. Always remove diseased debris and dispose of it to prevent reinfection, and keep an eye out for early signs of insect damage (Japanese beetles, thrips, mites, or chafers). Treat any sign of infection swiftly with an insecticide.
How to Get Miniature Roses to Bloom
Like their full-sized counterparts, miniature roses beginning their blooming period in mid-spring and continue on through early fall (though some will bloom year-round with the proper conditions). To bloom, roses must have at least six hours of sunlight daily, as well as regular feedings (a soil mixture high in organic nutrients is also an added bonus).
If you have a continually blooming varietal (like ‘Fairy Moss’ and ‘Lemon Drift), you can coax repeat blooms by deadheading any faded blooms before they go to hip. Preventing hips from forming will keep the plant from entering dormancy, which can be signaled by seed production.
What’s the difference between roses and miniature roses?
Miniature roses and full-sized roses are virtually exactly the same, save the size of their buds. In fact, many popular miniature rose varietals are hybridized from full-sized counterparts.
Can miniature roses grow indoors?
While miniature roses can survive temporarily indoors, long-term indoor life is not recommended. It’s difficult for them to get their sunlight, humidity, and temperature requirements met indoors.
Are miniature roses easy to care for?
Caring for roses is a passion for many, and miniature roses are tended to in the exact same way as full-sized roses. As long as you provide them with plenty of sunlight and food, as well as maintain periodic pruning, miniature roses are easy to care for.
Information courtesy of TheSpruce.com