The Incredible Miniature Rose

Of all the different roses available—miniatures, hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, climbers, shrubs, and old garden roses—the miniature is the most versatile and pleasing to even the most particular gardener. These plants offer everything: multiple uses, variety of size and color, hardiness, repeated blooms, and modern or old fashion styles. 

Miniatures are hardy and easy to grow. They continue to produce flowers even if you neglect to deadhead; pruning is less demanding than hybrid teas; and most varieties thrive during our hot summers and foggy winters. 

Miniatures can be planted along sidewalks, mixed with other perennials in a flower bed, massed as a ground cover, pruned into colorful hedges, grown as climbers on a trellis, placed in containers for indoor and outside use on patios and porches, and displayed in hanging baskets. 

Location: Find the right location with at least six hours of sunlight. Plants can be spaced as close as 12 inches. For greater visual impact, plant several roses of the same variety together. 

Planting: Miniature roses are usually sold in containers. Dig the hole twice the diameter of the container and slightly deeper than the rootball. Plant in good or amended soil; small amounts of manure and bone meal can be added at planting. Place the rootball in the hole and add the prepared soil. Firm the soil around the rootball and water thoroughly. Because the mini dries out quickly, be sure to water regularly. Do not fertilize until the plants are pushing new growth and have abundant leaves. 

Maintaining miniatures: Proper irrigation is most important, so watch your minis carefully during hot days. A dry plant will have gray green foliage, the buds and flowers will show signs of wilt and the soil will feel dry to a depth of 1 inch. Periodic fertilizer applications throughout the season produce bigger plants with more blooms. Applications should be made in early spring, midsummer and early fall. Fertilizers that contain equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium work well.

Insect and disease control: Minis are prone to aphids and spider mites. If at all possible, stay away from harsh insecticides and let predatory insects build in numbers. Washing plants with a high-pressure nozzle, insecticidal soap, light insecticidal oils and systemic pesticides can control these two pests. Minis can also contract powdery mildew, rust, and occasionally black spot. Use organic fungicides if at all possible. The best defense against disease problems is a healthy rose. Proper water and fertilization programs will go a long way to prevent disease. If you wash your minis once a week you will prevent most insect and disease problems. 

Pruning: Unlike hybrid tea roses, which are typically grafted plants, miniatures are grown on their own roots. Because of this they have more canes of various diameters. This results in more twiggy growth than hybrid teas and the distance between budding nodes is closer, so there is more flexibility in where we cut and how we prune the rose. The gardener can choose to prune with hedge shears with good results and minimal dieback, or take time to manicure each plant with hand shears. Over the long haul, the plant will reward you if you manicure them periodically. 

Varieties: When selecting a miniature rose variety for your planting site, be aware that it is the flower that is small in size, not necessarily the bush that it grows on, so choose accordingly. Many different varieties are available in nurseries. 

The Ralph Moore Rose Garden on the corner of Hall and Main Street in Visalia showcases some varieties. You can see colors, shapes and sizes, which will help in your selection process. 

Miniature roses will reward you all summer and keep you excited about your garden. You can bring them inside for special occasions or use them in flower arrangements. But always remember, miniature roses respond to TLC (tender loving care), as do most other landscape plants.

The Master Gardeners will be live to answer your rose-related questions at their Public Rose Pruning Demonstrations on Saturday, Jan. 22, 10 to 11 a.m. at the Ralph Moore Rose Garden at Hall and Main streets in Visalia, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Woodlake Botanical Garden in Woodlake. They can also be contacted between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to answer your questions at 559-684-3325, or visit their web site at ucanr.edu/sites/UC_Master_Gardeners.

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