Miniature roses are true roses that have been selectively bred to stay small in size. Most miniatures also have smaller flowers than standard rose bushes, but they come in the same variety of types and colors. Despite their small size, miniature roses are extremely hardy. In fact, because they are propagated on their own roots and not grafted onto rootstock, they are more winter hardy than most tea roses. They also tend to be profuse repeat bloomers.
The genetic parentage of miniature roses can be difficult to define since they have been in cultivation since the 17th century, but most originated as genetic mutations of Old Garden Roses (Rosa gallica and Rosa centifolia), or China roses (Rosa chinensis). Most types now grown are the result of extensive breeding and are long divorced from the original native species.
All miniature roses work well in a border or as edging. However, they are especially nice as specimen plants in containers, where they can be brought closer to eye level and truly be seen and appreciated.
|Botanical Name||Rosa spp.|
|Common Name||Rose, miniature rose|
|Plant Type||Deciduous flowering shrub|
|Mature Size||6 inches to 54 inches tall; ramblers can grow up to 6 feet|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil pH||6.0 to 7.0|
|Flower Color||Pink, red, yellow, white|
|Hardiness Zones||5 to 9 (USDA)|
|Native Area||None; miniature roses are a cultivated creation with no native range|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for Miniature Roses
Miniature Roses Care
Plant and treat miniature roses the same way you would full-size roses. Dig a hole the same depth as the pot the rose came in and about a foot wider. Carefully remove the rose from the pot and gently loosen the roots. If the plant is tightly root bound, use a sharp knife to score the sides of the root ball and try again to loosen the roots.
Add some organic matter to the soil to the hole, if your soil needs it. Place the rose bush in the center of the hole, with the roots spread out. Fill in the hole and gently firm down the soil. Thoroughly water the newly planted bush and then 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.
Most minis are not budded or grafted, so gardeners in colder climates don’t need to worry about covering or mulching the graft. Gardeners in warmer climates won’t need to be concerned about suckers from the rootstock.
Miniature roses thrive in full sun. Foliage and flowers will become sparse in shady conditions.
Roses like a rich, well-drained, loamy soil.
How much water your rose bush will require depends on your soil and weather. A general rule of thumb is to provide at least 1 inch of water each week. During hot, dry spells you will need to water more frequently. Be sure to water deeply to promote good root development. Due to their smaller roots, miniature roses may require more frequent watering during extreme heat, compared to their full-sized cousins.
Avoid getting the leaves wet to discourage fungal diseases. Water at the base of the plant, not overhead.
Temperature and Humidity
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 roses, they need full sun and medium humidity. To successfully grow them indoors, supplemental light (i.e. a grow light) and humidity is required.
These are easy enough to provide in summer, but humidity drops considerably when the heat comes on indoors and roses will quickly become desiccated. Mini roses given as gifts will do best if transplanted outdoors.
Roses can be heavy feeders and since mini roses continue blooming all season, regular fertilizing is essential. Use any commercial rose food or general-purpose fertilizer, according to label instructions. To keep your plant healthy:
- Feed when the bush first leafs-out.
- Feed after each heavy flush of bloom.
- Stop feeding about 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected frost to discourage new growth that could be killed back during winter.
Potting and Repotting
Miniature roses are a favorite plant for patio containers. Do not dig soil from the garden to use in your pots; instead, buy bags of potting soil. Garden soil is too heavy and can compact with frequent waterings needed for container plants, potentially suffocating the roots. Light, nutrient-rich potting soil drains well, helping the plant avoid root rot. Potted roses typically need to be repotted every three years or so.
If you bring potted miniature roses indoors for winter, give them the sunniest spot you can find, and rotate the plants every week or so so all sides get some sun. When grown indoors, they will appreciate the extra humidity provided if you set the pots into a tray filled with water and gravel. Add a grow light for best results.
Varieties of Miniature Roses
- Climbers: Minis roses with a vertical, rambling growth habit can be trained to grow against supports. The only thing "miniature" about these roses is the size of their flowers. Award-winning 'Jeanne Lajoie' doesn’t appear to be a mini at all, when allowed to reach heights of more than 7 feet. 'Snowfall' is a white ever-bloomer with canes that stretch out 7 to 12 feet.
- Trailers: Miniature roses with a cascading growth habit can be are wonderful in baskets and over walls. 'Sequoia Gold' has double flower fragrant yellow blossoms that repeat all season. 'Green Ice' is a hardy plant with unusual blooms that start out as apricot buds, open to double white flowers and age to a cool light green.
- Micro-mini: These are the smallest miniature roses. They grow only 6 to 12 inches tall, with proportional tiny blossoms of 1/4 to 1 inch in size. 'Bambino' has 3/4 inch vibrant orange blossoms on an 8- to 12-inch plant. 'Chasin' Rainbows' has yellow flowers that are edged in scarlet on a 10- to 15-inch bush.
- Miniflora: This is an American Rose Society classification for newly developed mini roses that have a slightly larger plant and bloom size than miniature roses. Average plant size is 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet tall.
Watch Now: Tips and Tricks for Pruning Roses
As with other roses, prune miniature roses just before new growth starts in late winter or early spring. Hard pruning is not necessary. Prune dead or broken wood first. Then trim back about one-third of the plant to maintain its shape and encourage new growth.
Unfortunately, mini roses are subject to the same problems as larger roses, including black spot, a fungal disease. Powdery mildew can also be a problem. Improving air circulation can help keep these fungal problems to a minimum. As with other roses, systemic rose-care products can help prevent diseases and discourage pests. Always remove diseased debris and dispose of it to prevent reinfection.
Keep an eye out for early signs of insect damage (Japanese beetles, thrips, mites, or chafers) and treat accordingly.