All 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. Miniature roses are fairly modern when compared to the history of old garden roses. Indeed the cultivation and improvement of species roses is thought to go back as far as 2737 b.c. whereas miniature roses were comparatively unchanged until around the 1930's. 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.
LOCATION: Consider planting miniature roses in mixed perennial borders instead of making an all miniature rose garden. Most of the miniature roses bloom summer through fall and, with so many colors available, they blend well with most perennials. They are also great for hedging and front of border placement. Cinderella is particularly nice for hedging because it is thornless.
SOIL: While our 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 so that water drains freely and enough organic matter to hold the moisture so the plants don't dry out too quickly. If water puddles where you want to plant your roses, then choose another spot. Mulching bare ground with compost or other organic matter helps to slowly create the perfect soil. As mulch breaks down earthworms and other beneficial bacteria bring the elements below the surface which enhances the texture of the top soil layer, helps to correct pH and improves 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 it so hard that the soil becomes overly compacted.
Miniature roses can also be grown in containers with coarse potting soil. Our three inch pot should be transferred to a gallon the first year and moved up each year after that. Since these roses can range from 1 to 3 feet, it is important to give them adequate root space in your container. Container grown roses will need continual fertilization throughout the growing season.
Watering: Once planted, roses should be thoroughly watered. Always deep soak your roses. They have long roots that benefit from deep watering. Watering on the surface encourages shallow hair-like roots that are week 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 the first month is critical for the rose as 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 kept soggy.
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 leaves.
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. A 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 also 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 is best 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 these 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, then 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 wait until the cluster is finished and then remove the entire stem. We always prune to a bud that is facing outward. This allows more light into the center of the plant as new stems grow away from each other. If you want to harvest rose hips, then late summer flowers should be left on the plant.
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, Magic Carrousel, Rise and Shine are all great for harvesting perfect little rosebuds. These can be woven into fresh arrangements and allowed to dry or dried individually. They 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.
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. Fruit and rose petals have an affinity for each other, thus the traditional addition of fresh rose petals to apple or fruit jelly. They 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.