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Caring for Potted Miniature Roses

Question of the Week

Miniature Roses Inside and Out

Miniature roses can be grown has potted houseplants if given enough light. Q. My boyfriend gave me a cute little miniature rose for Valentine’s Day and it’s been flowering like crazy ever since! What should I do with this plant? Is it a houseplant? Do I need to repot it? Can I plant it outside this coming spring? Thanks for your good advice.

A. Your boyfriend has given you a gift that you can enjoy for years either as a houseplant, or in your garden with just a little care.

If grown as a pot plant, I recommend repotting miniature roses into clay azalea pots or bulb pans to reduce the chance of overwatering. If you choose to grow it as a houseplant, repot it into a six to eight inch diameter, clay azalea or bulb pot filled with a peatmoss-based potting soil such as Pro-Mix, Jiffy-Mix, etc., at left. I recommend a clay pot because excess water will evaporate from the sides of the pot. This will make it at least a little harder to overwater houseplants, which is one of the main reasons why many houseplants fail to thrive.

All roses, including miniatures prefer full sun all day, every day. Therefore, a key to growing miniature roses as houseplants is to make sure they’re in a window that receives as much light as possible. During our long, cloudy winters, however, they’ll do best if grown under fluorescent lights that come on at sunset, and turn off around midnight. An inexpensive timer can take care of tunring the lights on and off for you.

I’d also suggest gradually acclimating your potted miniature rose to outdoor conditions during the warm days of April and early May, then leaving it outside in full sun after about the middle of May. Make sure to keep the potting soil moist and fertilize every other week with a half-strength, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.

Don’t bring it back indoors until Thanksgiving – even if it gets buried by snow! Like potted florist azaleas, this exposure to cold temperature will satisfy their need for a brief dormant period. Prune them back to two to four inches, then watch them sprout vigorous, new shoots by New Years!

Finally, miniature roses are completely winter hardy in Central New York - more so even than the ever-popular hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda rose bushes found in so many gardens. In fact, there’s a pretty good collection of miniature roses in the E.M. Mills Memorial Rose Garden at the Ostrum Avenue entrance to Thornden Park in Syracuse.

If you decide to plant your miniature rose in your garden, select a spot having well-drained soil in full sun. Once it’s established, it will require little care other than cutting off spent blooms and cutting it back to two to four inches from the ground each spring.