Maximize Your Miniature Roses
Don't Kill Them -- Make Them Winners  

By Kitty Belendez
Master Rosarian
Santa Clarita, California

  The purpose of this article is to help you to avoid "killing" your new mini rose purchases and to teach you how to maximize your minis to their fullest potential.  

Hundreds of miniature rose plants will be sold at the upcoming rose shows. Rose societies will purchase a supply of miniatures in 2-inch pots from commercial rose growers specializing in the miniatures. The growers will fill the orders by taking the little minis out of their greenhouses where they have been growing in a protected environment for several months. Food, water, air, light, and temperature have been precisely controlled to ensure fast, healthy growth for peak bloom season. Then the growers will ship the baby plants just days before the rose shows where they are to be sold to the public. Hopefully, the person who has ordered these minis will harden them off by watering them well, and place them under a shaded tree or patio for a day or two before taking them to the rose show to be sold.   

On show day many of the miniature roses will be in full bloom, and they are so cute that we just cannot resist buying a few, because they come in so many colors. With names like IrresistibleChild's Play, and Rainbow's End, and the heavily-scented ones like Scentsational, well the next thing you know you have purchased a bag full of little plants with no thought of what to do with them.

The proud owners of the new little miniature rose plants will take them home with full intentions of planting them into the ground or transplanting them to bigger pots. Some of us will never get around to transplanting those little minis or may just forget about them. Unfortunately, many of those plants will die before the owner gets a chance to plant them.   

The first thing to be aware of is that your new miniature roses cannot continue to grow in those little 2-inch pots. In fact, they must be moved immediately to a larger size pot as soon as you get home from the rose show. They have become extremely rootbound and have only been able to thrive because of the controlled environment of the greenhouse. Here in Southern California we could get 90-degree temperatures with dry Santa Ana winds-perfect conditions to kill a little 2-inch, rootbound mini in just one day.   

Whether you intend to grow your minis roses in the ground eventually, or will continue to grow them in pots, you should first place them into a one-gallon pot where they can get off to a fast, healthy start. If you stick the 2-inch plants directly into the ground they will become temporarily lost like a ship at sea. It is better to move them up slowly, starting first with a one-gallon pot where their environment can be better controlled with food and water. Their roots will spread quickly from the warmth surrounding the outer edges of the small pot. There will be time enough later, perhaps in early spring, to move them to their permanent home.   

For now, a plain, black plastic nursery pot will do just fine. You don't need anything fancy. Fill the pot with a blend of potting soil and Kellogg's Gromulch (or any brand of nitrohumous). I like this heavier mix, because it holds water better, and yet it provides good drainage while keeping the potting soil from escaping through the holes in the bottom of the pot. Toss in a couple tablespoons of Superphosphate into the bottom of the hole before placing the mini into the pot.   

Water the plant well, and do not fertilize for at least two weeks. After that, you can feed your miniature rose bush with fish emulsion once a month. Later, as the rose bush gets bigger you can expand its diet with other organics and periodic feedings of water-soluble fertilizers. Don't plan on doing any pruning of your minis until the plant is at least 6 months old. More foliage will encourage more root growth. You can, however, keep the spent blooms trimmed off.   

Like the bigger roses, some miniatures can be susceptible to powdery mildew and other diseases. For now, you won't need to do much spraying of your new mini plant, but this will become more important during the spring growing season.   

Miniature roses can also attract aphids and other insects. In particular, spider mites can be a problem during warm weather, but can be easily controlled with a daily washing of the foliage. Don't be afraid to get the foliage wet, as the minis love to be washed down from head to foot. If aphids get out of control, a fine misting of Orthene will get rid of them in just a day or two.   

In about six months, your little miniature rose that began in a 2-inch pot and is now in a one-gallon pot, should become rootbound again and be ready to move to a place in your garden or into a 7-gallon pot which will become its permanent home. You will know it is rootbound because the pot will no longer hold water, it will run right through the pot, and when you pick up the pot it will feel very light. When you transplant it, your mini rose will take off like crazy and within a few months could double its size again. Some minis will grow to 12 inches while others can reach heights of 36 inches.   

So, instead of leaving your mini rose purchases to linger or die in those 2-inch pots, give them the chance to perform their best. Provide your minis with a regular watering, feeding, spraying, and pruning schedule, and they will reward you with a bounty of blooms like you have never imagined.   

This article is an American Rose Society Award of Merit Winner. Reprinted from "Rose Ecstasy," bulletin of the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.   


© Copyright  Kitty Belendez. All rights reserved.

Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez

For questions about Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, contact:
Rose Society
Updated January 5, 2016

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