Growing Miniature Roses

Delicate Blooms on One Tough and Hardy Plant

Miniature red roses in pot
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Miniature roses are true roses, bred to stay small in size. Most mini roses also have smaller flowers than standard rose bushes, but they come in a variety of types and colors. Despite their small size, miniature roses are extremely hardy. In fact, they are more winter hardy than most tea roses. Miniatures also tend to be profuse repeat bloomers. Two outstanding mini roses are:

"Child's Play", which was a 1993 All-American Rose Selection and 1993 American Rose Society Award of Excellence.

It blooms abundantly in white with soft pink edges and is a very carefree grower with great disease resistance.

"Baby Boomer", which also won an Award of Excellence. These delicate pink blossoms grow on long stems suitable for cutting. They have a slight fragrance and bloom throughout the season on 24 -36" bushes.

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.

Types of Miniature Roses

  • Climbers - Minis roses with a vertical growth habit that 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 7+ feet. "Snowfall" is a white ever bloomer with canes that stretch out 7 - 12 ft.
  • Trailers - Miniature roses with a cascading growth habit that 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 - 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 -12-inch plant. "Chasin' Rainbows" has yellow flowers that are edged in scarlet on a 10 - 15 inch bush.
  • Miniflora - 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 ½ - 4 ½ feet. "Moonlight Scentsation" offers fragrant flowers in the palest lavender on a 3 ft. plant. "Harm Saville" has traditional velvet red blossoms on an 18 -20-inch plant.

Planting Miniature Roses

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.

If your mini rose comes bare root, follow these excellent planting directions from the All-American Rose Society.

NOTE: Most minis are not budded or grafted, so gardeners in colder climates don’t need to worry about covering or mulching the graft and gardeners in warmer climates won’t need to be concerned about suckers from the rootstock.

Caring for Mini Roses

Feeding: 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 - 8 weeks before the first expected frost, to discourage new growth that could be killed back during winter.

Watering: How much water your rose bush will require depends on your soil and weather. A general rule of thumb is to provide at least an inch of water each week. During hot, dry spells you will need to water more frequently. Be sure to water deeply, so that the soil is wet at least 12 - 18 inches below the surface.

Avoid getting the leaves wet during humid weather, to discourage fungal diseases.

When and How to Prune Mini 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 a third of the plant to maintain its shape and encourage new growth.

Diseases and Pests of Miniature Roses

Unfortunately, mini roses are subject to the same problems as larger roses, including black spot. Keep an eye out for early signs of insect damage (Japanese beetle, trips, chafers...) and treat accordingly.

Growing Miniature Roses as House Plants

Although mini roses do quite well in containers and you often see them sold as houseplants, many gardeners are disappointed by their performance indoors. As roses, they need full sun and good humidity. 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.