Miniature Roses: Planting, Pruning, Fertilizing, and Using
Miniature roses seem modern when compared
to the age of old garden roses. Indeed the cultivation and improvement of
garden roses is thought to go back as far as 2737 B.C. whereas miniature
roses remained mostly unchanged until around the 1930s. Miniature roses at
that time were often referred to as "fairy roses" due to their diminutive
height, leaves and flowers. While not all of our roses are miniatures, they
are all unique, tough and beautiful. Many have been in the gardens here for
20 years. Below are some points to keep in mind when choosing and caring for
your miniature roses.
Consider planting miniature roses in mixed perennial borders instead of
making an all-miniature rose garden. Most of the miniature roses bloom
late spring and again inough fall and, with so many colors available, they blend
well with most perennials.
For hedging, Cinderella works well and is
thornless. But, Beauty Secret is our favorite hedge rose because it is the
densest almost thornless. They both reach about four feet when grown as a hedge.
For front of the border placement, Baby Austin, Tom Thumb and Little Pinkie work
well because of their diminutive size.
SOIL: While miniature roses
are easier to grow than shrub roses, they do have many of the same needs.
The soil needs to contain enough air pockets to allow water to drain freely
and enough organic matter to hold the moisture so that the plants don't dry
out too quickly. If water puddles where you want to plant your roses, then
choose another spot. Mulching the bare ground around your roses with compost
or other organic matter will, over time, help create the perfect soil. As
mulch breaks down, earthworms and other beneficial bacteria take essential
elements below the surface, which not only enhances the texture of the top
soil layer, but also helps to correct pH and improve fertility.
PLANTING: Miniature roses and the other roses we sell are on
their own root stock and should be planted at the same level they are in the
pot. Dig a hole just big enough to plant the rose and water well. Check
often to make sure the little plant is not dry. Until it takes off into the
soil around it, the original root cube needs to stay moist. This usually
takes about a month depending on the time of year. Be sure to gently firm
your little plant into the ground so it makes good contact with the native
soil, but don't smash the soil so hard that the soil becomes overly
Miniature roses can also be grown in containers with
coarse organic potting soil. Our three-inch
pot should be transferred to a pot that can hold a gallon of soil the first
year. Each spring, check the root ball to make sure it has not filled up the
pot. The rose will eventually need to be moved up to to a larger container. Since these
roses can range from 1 to 3 feet, it is important to give them adequate root
space in the container. Container-grown roses will need continual
fertilization with an all-purpose organic fertilizer throughout the growing season.
WATERING: Once planted, roses
should be thoroughly watered. Always deep-soak your roses. Roses have long
roots that benefit from deep watering, so always water enough to penetrate
below the root zone. Watering on the surface encourages shallow hair-like
roots that are weak and will not provide the rose with the moisture it needs
to be healthy. Container-grown plants should be watered well (so water
reaches all of the soil). Watering is critical the first month for the newly
planted rose. It takes about that long for it to establish a relationship
with the soil around it. Until that time, it can only collect water from its
original root cube. Roses should never be watered so much that the ground is
In humid areas, drip irrigation is advised to keep moisture off the leaves.
Keeping the leaves dry helps to thwart fungal diseases. Watering methods
that cause water to splash from the ground to the leaves can also spread
fungal disease. In hot, dry areas, overhead watering is preferred for
miniature roses because it keeps dust from clogging up the cells of the
How often to water is an age-old question that can only be answered by each
gardener. Sites, soil and conditions vary to such an extent that only
on-site inspection can answer this question.
water meter can help the novice gardener
to be more confident in their watering acumen. Be sure to place the meter within
the root zone for an accurate reading.
SUN: Full sun is required for
growing roses successfully. Roses that do not have full sun will be more
prone to disease and may become leggy as their branches reach for light.
This is often a death sentence for the rose.
FERTILIZER: If compost is part of your yearly mulching schedule, then
no other fertilizer should be necessary for the roses. If compost is not
available, then a general all-purpose organic fertilizer should be applied
in early spring.
pH: The pH for roses should be between 6.5 and 7. Very acidic soil or
very alkaline soil will need to be improved with the addition of lots of
organic matter. Again, compost is best for regulating the soil. In extreme
cases compost should be both worked into the soil before planting and added
each year as a mulch in a one-to two-inch layer on top of the bare ground
around the rose. Be careful not to mulch right up to the base of the rose.
Always leave a two-to three-inch circle of clear space around the rose.
PRUNING: Pruning miniature roses is a lot easier than pruning other
roses. There are no magic formulas or special cuts that have to be made. In
fact, they never have to be pruned if you are happy with the way they look.
We do suggest that dead canes be removed when noticed. If you want to hedge
your miniature roses, late fall (in warm winter areas) or early spring (in
colder winter areas) is a good time to do this. It is not necessary to
deadhead miniature roses, but spent flowers may be removed at anytime.
Miniature roses tend to bloom in clusters (more than one rosebud per stem)
and often we will remove the entire stem after the cluster is finished. We
always prune to a bud that is facing outward. This allows more light into
the center of the plant allowing new stems to grow away from each
other. If you want to harvest rose hips, then late summer flowers should be
left on the plant. Rise and Shine is our favorite miniature rose for
developing rose hips. Other roses that produce rose hips include
Andrea, Black Jade,
Jean Kenneally, Mr. Bluebird,
Rise and Shine, Roller Coaster,
Sequoia Ruby and Why
Not. Rose hips are full of Vitamin C and should be orange to red when ready.
PEST AND DISEASE:
Insects and disease are not as big of a problem with miniature roses as they are
with garden roses. We notice aphids in the garden in early spring but a few
weeks later the ladybugs come through and clean them up. Growing roses among
other flowering plants will provide a diverse haven and encourage
beneficial insects to take up residence
in your garden. Full sun, good air circulation and proper drainage will go a
long way toward discouraging diseases.
Deer, rabbits and even squirrels can also be
devastating to roses in the unprotected garden. We find that miniature roses
planted among other shrubs have fewer hits from these critters than those we
have planted in an all miniature rose garden. To protect your roses from these
large pests, you may want to install an automatic scarecrow. We have used
these with great success for many years.
CRAFTING: Judy Fischer,
Rise and Shine are all great for
harvesting perfect little rosebuds. These can be woven into
fresh arrangements and allowed to dry or
can be dried individually. and allowed to dry or can be dried individually. Buds
should be picked just as their color starts to show and handled gently. While we
let our buds dry naturally, colors are best kept when the roses are dried in
silica gel. Crystal bowls full of miniature buds make attractive table
decorations or place card holders. Dried petals and leaves add bulk and color to
potpourris and sachets.
CULINARY USE: Rose petals have long been used in the preparation
of foods. All roses can be used for culinary purposes as long as they are
organically grown and clean. Check out
"Growing Roses Organically"
for more information on raising your roses without chemicals. Rose petals
and fruit have an affinity for each other, thus the traditional addition of
fresh rose petals to apple or fruit jelly. Petals can also be used to make
an all rose petal jelly. These jellies make wonderful glazes for chicken or
pork. Fresh rose petals can also be added to butters, honeys, sun teas and
vinegars. Dried rose petals may be used to blend with other dried herbs for
tea or cooking. Dried petals can also be used to make rose petal syrup which
can be used to flavor ice cream, pudding or drinks. Try adding a bit of rose
syrup to your next martini and be sure to use a fresh petal as garnish.
Check out "How to Eat a Rose" by Jim
Long for more delicious ways to use roses in your recipes.
Most of our roses came from the nursery of Ralph Moore, one of the most important rose
breeders of the 20th century. Mr. Moore dedicated his life to the
hybridization of miniature roses. We are fortunate to have known this gentle
man. His nursery was not far from our own. Before we became interested in
miniature roses for our company, we would visit his nursery for the pleasure
of seeing all the beautiful roses. If he was there, and he almost always
was, he would take us on a tour and share his knowledge and passion.
Afterwards he would give us a laminated bookmark with pressed roses and a
poem he had written. Needless to say, we always took roses home with us. Now
that he and his nursery are but a memory, we are grateful to have his roses
filling our gardens, and delighted to make them available to you.
BOOKS TO READ ON MINIATURE ROSES:
Growing Miniature and Patio Roses
by Dawn and Berry Eagle
Their Care and Cultivation
by Sean McCann
The Complete Book of
by Charles Marden Fitch
All About Miniature
by Ralph S. Moore
Secrets of the
by Elizabeth Abler
to view or order our wonderful rose plants.
Roses make a wonderful addition to
our Edible Flower Garden Six