With one small bush producing a dozen or more blooms that last for weeks, it’s no wonder potted miniature roses substitute for cut flowers so often. ProPlants’ mini roses come from growers who take pride in the genetic make-up and overall hardiness of their house plants. With these miniature rose care tips, your lovely little plant can bloom inside or outside for years to come.
Miniature Rose Care Basics
This overview of caring for miniature roses provides a firm basis in what’s needed to keep your plant healthy. In depth information about proper care during the miniature rose’s life cycle follows this section.
Placement: Miniature roses should get five to six hours of direct sun from a southern or western facing window daily. Turning the plant from time to time will encourage even growth. As the miniature rose plant needs consistent watering, a kitchen or sunny bathroom location near a water faucet is helpful.
Light: At least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. A west- or south-facing window provides sufficient light for the miniature rose. That said, because miniature roses do well so outside, many Americans like to put their roses on their patios many months of the year.
Temperature: Potted roses can live outside year round in USDA hardiness zones up to Zone 5 where it reaches -20° in winter. In zones 1-4, where winter temperatures reach -40°, miniature roses must move inside in fall. Indoor potted roses do well in temperatures that range between 60° at night and 70° during the day.
Potted roses acquired in warmer (zones 8 – 11) climates have a different need. Now kept indoors, these flowering plants need a cool period to enter a healthful dormant phase. That means that they must move outside in the winter to have access to cooler temperatures for several weeks.
Water: Because they have delicate, shallow roots, mini roses need abundant water in well-draining soil. They cannot tolerate drought. Water any time the top two inches of soil get dry, possibly daily. Try to water roses during the morning or at least by early afternoon to prevent fungus and bacteria from invading the plant.
Fertilizer: Fertilize rose flowers in early spring, as soon as frost danger has passed but after the plant has been pruned. Use a rose or balanced garden fertilizer with even 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 ratio at half manufacturers recommended strength every three weeks. Plants that are outside need more fertilizer than those kept inside as more photosynthesis occurs in direct sunlight.
Growth: Miniature roses stop growing when they reach about 15 inches in height.
Blooming: Miniature roses bloom in the spring and their blooms last for weeks.
Planting Miniature Roses Outside: In USDA planting zones 1-4, miniature rose winter care includes bringing plants in before the first frost. Leave the plant in its pot for easy portability. Even in these cold areas, however, most growers encourage buyers to let miniature roses spend at least the spring and summer months outside. Those in USDA planting zones 5 and above can leave miniature roses outside all year.
Those living in planting zones 5-10 (the majority of Americans) can be confident about the safety of replanting the miniature rose outside permanently. A temperature of -40° (zones 1-4 brrr!) will kill it, but -20° won’t. A good time to plant outside is right before the plant starts growing in the spring. That way, roots can grow and get established before the first winter frost. Follow these steps to replant your miniature rose outdoors:
- Marshall your potting soil. Well drained soil amended with two to four inches of compost or rotten manure works well.
- Remove plant from container, shaking off excess dirt (that’s most likely depleted of nutrients at this point.)
- Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the rose’s current pot.
- Fill the hole partway with soil.
- Set the plant in the hole and fill in with soil. Make sure the new soil covers the root ball by an inch or two, possibly going up the stem to the first branch.
- Tamp down soil and water the plant.
Care During Miniature Rose’s Life Cycle
Since roses are perennials, they grow and bloom in spring and summer and go into dormancy during the winter before budding again the following spring. Care during these phases differs because metabolism occurs at different rates, changing the plant’s needs.
Miniature Rose Care in Spring and Summer – The Growing Season
What’s Happening? The miniature rose’s job during the growing season is to create a bloom that will get the attention of birds and bees. These creatures will bring in pollen from other plants and carry away that rose’s pollen. The rose’s growth requires close attention with water and fertilizer remaining readily available. The rose flower takes significant energy and resources.
What to do: Start fertilizing two weeks after you see the first leaf buds emerge on stems. Fertilize with a balanced rose or garden fertilizer. Some growers use a high phosphorous, liquid fertilizer that can penetrate deep into the root bed. A high phosphorus fertilizer typically has a 5-10-5, where the middle number (which pertains to phosphorus) is twice the other two. Nitrogen encourages plant growth where phosphorous focuses on blooms.
Organic gardeners stick to compost and manure as fertilizers, but manure must be allowed to decompose for several months before being placed directly on plants to prevent damage.
Miniature Rose Care in Winter - Dormancy Outside
What’s Happening? With pollen both received and dispersed, rose bushes can rest. As they drop their blooms and leaves, the plant’s energy goes to amending its root system. These changes are welcome as roses will be damaged if a frost hits while they are in full leaf and bloom.
What to do: Those living in zones 5 – 13 can leave their mini roses outside. 1-4 zone dwellers will bring the plant inside or into a shed or garage where temperatures won’t dip below -20° F. Six weeks before the first projected frost, stop fertilizing and reduce water. If your winter temperatures go below zero, load up the base of the plants with one to two inches of soil, mulch or dry leaves. Avoid covering the entire plant with compost as it can smother.
Miniature Rose Winter Care - Dormancy Inside
What’s Happening? Just like miniature roses outdoors, bushes kept indoors will drop their leaves and blooms, but only if they get to experience a drop in temperature. This necessary step can be taken care of by putting the rose near a cold window day and night or in the garage during the evenings.
What to do: While you’re protecting your roses from winter’s chill, keep in mind that miniature roses need a decent cool (even cold) period so they know to take a rest. They may even keep their leaves. It’s “the pause that refreshes.” Keeping a miniature rose bush indoors year round in our ideal temperatures 65° to 70° impacts the plant’s overall health. As mini roses are best pruned mid-winter to early spring, remember to review our pruning basics below.
Re-Potting Miniature Roses
What’s Happening? You can tell if your rose needs to be repotted by examining the soil surface. If roots are crowded on or above the soil surface, it’s time to repot. Also crowded roses tend to wilt when they are watered.
What to do: Growers typically re-pot miniature rose plants at least yearly and sometimes two or three times in a year. The best time is in the fall, after flowers have faded. When you go to re-pot your plant, keep in mind that many commercially available rose plants have several separate plants in each pot. Getting each plant in its own 6”, 5- to 7-gallon pot is sufficient. Miniature rose plants don’t mind a snug fit over their roots. After you remove the pot, hold the plant by the base and gently work root systems apart. Shake off left over soil and repot separately. Prune off broken, rotting or damaged roots.
As recommended above, mix a premium, bagged potting mix with compost, perlite or peat moss. Some growers recommend against using soil from your garden as it could harbor insects or disease.
Miniature roses do best in pots that are wider than they are tall. Most of all, make sure the pot has decent drainage. Drill holes in yourself if you have to.
Pruning Miniature Roses
Pruning enhances the health of miniature roses. First, if you have several plants in close proximity, keeping individual size limited help circulate the air throughout the plant, reducing bacterial, pest and fungal infestation. Further, pruning stimulates growth at buds just below the cuts. Finally, pruning keeps the bush in the shape you desire.
4 Steps to Pruning Miniature Roses in Winter: The Major Rose Pruning
- Marshal your rose pruning tools:
- Garden gloves. Thorns on these little guys can still draw blood.
- Hook and blade pruning shears. (Sharp, clean blades make the clean cuts that reduce incidence of pest and disease infestation. Wipe blades with rubbing alcohol as you go from plant to plant.)
- Remove dead or diseased canes.
- Prune canes and branches from the center of the plant. Prune canes that cross each other. Both excisions open the plant to the light and air that will help keep rose problems at bay. Crossing branches chafe each other creating vulnerable scars where disease and virus can enter.
- Prune to within ¼ inch of a leaf bud. Cut too long and the remaining stem above the bud can die off and become vulnerable to pest and disease. To keep water from being funneled into the bud and causing rot, angle the cut so that the high part is ¼ inch above the bud and the low part is about at an equal level. A new stem will emerge from this.
- Shorten the remaining canes by one-half. Rest assured: rose plants that resemble a cluster of sticks in the winter come roaring back with blooms and leaves-a-plenty in spring. Miniatures require heavy annual pruning to keep in top shape.
Spring and Summer Miniature Rose Pruning
Keep those pruning shears out even after the big late winter trim so you can remove faded flowers regularly. Removing faded flowers redirects energy back to the plant so that it can possibly produce another bloom. Growers of standard sized roses watch for the bud on the end of the stem and trim any buds growing beneath it. This is to encourage the biggest bloom per cane. Because blooms on a miniature rose bush are more scattered (and no one is going for huge on mini roses), dis-budding is avoided. That said: it’s still wise to remove dead blooms.
Follow these three tips:
- Don’t worry about cutting a miniature rose bloom down to the five-leaf point; simply cut anywhere under bloom.
- Clean up any stray petals to prevent any fungal growth or bacterial or pest infestation.
- If your miniature rose blooms in sprays, removing the central bud as soon as it develops helps the rest of the blooms develop in a more robust and some say more attractive manner.
Miniature roses are susceptible to the same viruses, bacteria, fungi and insects that regular, standard sized roses are. Unfortunately, that means quite a number. Luckily, plenty of solutions are available as well. We’ve organized all problems you may run into in our Miniature Roses Diseases and Pests Symptoms & Solutions Chart.
Miniature Rose Plants Care Conclusion
Perennial plants, miniature roses can live for years and even decades with regular:
- fertilization during the growing season and
- a good prune in winter.
Skeptical? The Guinness Book of World Records reports that the Tombstone Rose, America’s largest rose bush, was first planted in 1885 in Tombstone, Arizona. Not a miniature rose per se (actually a “White Lady Banks” rose), its flowers are tiny. With a trunk six feet wide, its white blooms cover 9,000 square feet of trellis. If arid Arizona can grow a masterpiece for over a century, your rose can live for years and even a decade or more.