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.
Miniature roses work well in a border and are especially nice as specimen plants or edgers.
‘Child's Play’ 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’ 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.
Other types of minis include:
- Climbers - Minis with a vertical growth habit and can be trained to grow against supports. (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'.)
- Trailers - Minis 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 - Term for the smallest mini roses (6 - 12") with proportional tiny blossoms of 1/4 to 1 inch in size. (‘Bambino’ has 3/4" vibrant orange blossoms on an 8 -12" plant. ‘Chasin' Rainbows’ flowers are yellow, edged in scarlet on a 10 - 15" 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' plant. ‘Harm Saville’ has traditional velvet red blossoms on an 18 -20" plant.)
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 in hole, if needed.
- Place the rose bush in the center of the hole, with the roots spread out.
- Fill in the hole and firm gently.
- Thoroughly water the newly planted bush and then apply a layer of mulch.
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 root stock.
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.
- 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.
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.
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
Unfortunately, mini roses are subject to the same problems as larger roses.
A product called Messenger is showing promise as a deterrent to rose diseases. Keep an eye out for early signs of insect damage (Japanese beetle, trips, chafers...) and treat accordingly.
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.