Growing Miniature Roses

By: Mike Darcy

Pots of miniature roses brighten up a nursery display.

Miniature roses are perfect for small-space gardeners that love the look of classic roses. They come in all colors, and newer varieties are disease resistant and bloom continuously through summer.

There is a cloud of mystery concerning the exact origin of the miniature rose. It is most likely a descendant of the Chinese rose, Rosa chinensis var. minima, and for some unknown reason it made its way to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean where it was found growing in a botanical garden. An Englishman who found it growing there brought it back to England in ~1815. It then seemed to disappear until an officer in the Swiss Reserves found it growing in a window box in Switzerland in the 1920’s. Rose hybridizers quickly recognized the marketing potential of the miniature rose.

What is a Miniature Rose?

Miniature roses are everblooming and make fine container specimens.

Initially, to be classified as a miniature rose it had to fit under a teacup. However rose growers realized that to be a recognized class in rose shows, a better definition was needed. Today for a rose to be classified as a miniature, the leaves, stems, thorns and flowers must be miniature versions of a full sized rose plant. According to the American Rose Society, miniature roses now can range from just inches to 2 feet. A newer miniature class, mini-flora roses, are like shrubby floribunda roses in miniature and can reach up to 3 feet. The flowers can range from less than 1 inch to several inches across with the colors being the same wide array as any regular garden rose.

Good Miniature Rose Varieties

Image by Weeks Roses

All a’Twitter™ (2012 introduction, 18-24 inches)

This bushy miniature produces loads of orange blooms on plants with glossy dark green leaves. This is a very disease-resistant selection from Weeks Roses that flowers best in milder weather but will also tolerate warmer growing conditions. Its delicate double flowers open as they mature to show a golden plume of stamens.

 

Be My Baby™ (2011 introduction, 20-28 inches)

Image by Weeks Roses

Marked by excellent diseases resistance, this bushy miniature from Weeks Roses and produces loads of deep pink blooms all summer.

This one is a high performer that will bloom well all season up until frost. It’s perfect little roses look very much like those of a hybrid tea rose, but in miniature.

 

Busy Bee™ (1994 introduction, 18- 22 inches)

Image by Greenheart Farms

This cold-hardy, disease-resistant miniature produces lots of coral pink and peach blooms on bushy plants. Offered by Jackson & Perkins, Busy Bee™ is also a vigorous bloomer that will go all season!

This exceptional beauty was originally bred by F. Harmon Saville of Greenheart Farms.

 

Red Sunblaze® (1989 introduction, 12-15 inches)

Image by Meilland Int.

Developed by Meilland International, Red Sunblaze® is a miniature red rose with attractive foliage and frilly deep red blooms that look great in containers.  This is a truly small rose, but its high blooming capacity makes it a standout in the garden.

 

‘Sun Sprinkles’ (1999 introduction, 18-24 inches)

Image by Jackson & Perkins

The delicate yellow blooms of this 2001 All America Rose Selections Winner look like mini hybrid tea roses and have a light fragrance. ‘Sun Sprinkles’ is an exceptional Jackson & Perkins introduction. The shrubs are heat tolerant, disease resistant, and everblooming. Plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 6.

Growing Miniature Roses

As a general rule, miniature roses are as winter hardy as other garden roses, with some being bred to be a bit hardier than others. Since they are grown on their own roots and not grafted, they can withstand quite a bit of winter cold.

In our maritime Pacific Northwest climate, I have never heard of instances of them being killed by our winters. They should be treated just like other roses in the garden with at least six hours of sunlight, regular rose fertilizer, summer water and possible disease and insect control. They like a rich soil, so at time of planting, work in some Black Gold Garden Compost Blend. Most miniatures will bloom continuously throughout the summer months if the old flower buds are cut just as would be done on a regular rose bush.

Sometimes miniature roses get a bad ‘rap’ when they are sold by supermarkets and box stores during the winter months. Often these plants are sold in full bloom in small pots. These have been forced in a greenhouse controlled environment and are not meant to be planted outdoors in winter. They should be treated as a blooming houseplant, and if kept in a well lighted location, they will continue blooming for 6-8 weeks. With good indoor care, they can be planted outdoors in spring when temperatures warm up.

Growing Miniature Roses in Containers

Miniature roses make ideal container plants and can be especially useful on a deck or balcony. For a gardener that has a confined space but would like roses, miniatures are ideal. Most will bloom early in the spring and continue throughout summer and into the fall. In a container, using Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix would be an ideal mix to use at time of planting. A miniature rose growing in a container will need regular fertilization just as it would if planted in the garden.

Since they are easy to propagate, many new miniature roses are introduced every year, and some of the colors are amazing. If you perhaps do not have the space or location for a regular-size rose garden, consider growing miniatures. You will be amazed at their performance!

About Mike Darcy


Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969.
He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners.

Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening.

To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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