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Caring For Miniature Roses

Did you get a pot of miniature roses for Valentine’s Day? Although a flowering potted plant is always appreciated, a miniature rose is one of the most difficult to care for and it is a very challenging task to keep such a plant flourishing beyond its first flush of bloom.

Miniature roses are just like all other roses – they prefer lots of sunlight, moderate temperatures, lots of water while demanding superb drainage, and they are magnets for that insidious pest, the spider mite. However, if you have received a miniature rose as a gift and are up to a challenge, you might like to try to keep the plant healthy and growing until you can plant it outdoors in late May.

Firstly, give the plant as much direct sunlight as possible – a minimum of six hours a day and more if possible. Water the plant daily, giving it a good soaking by taking the pot to the sink and letting the excess water drain away along with any accumulated salts. Be sure the pot does not sit in a saucer of water by placing the pot on a smaller inverted saucer, inside the larger one under the plant that catches the drips. Feed the plant with a balanced soluble plant food once a week.

Miniature roses like high humidity, so use of a pebble tray would help to raise the humidity around the plant, as would daily misting and periodic showers under the bathroom shower. This last practice would also keep the foliage dust free and help to deter spider mites and other insects, although to do a better job of this the undersides of the leaves should be sprayed as well – no easy feat without creating quite a mess. One method of doing this is to place a piece of aluminum foil over the soil surface and tightly around the stem of the plant to enable you to hold the plant upside down while it is under the shower (a hand-held shower works best) without the soil being dislodged.

If you can, add a bit of organic material to the planting medium. Miniature roses have trouble utilizing the inorganic minerals in synthetic fertilizers because they rely on soil organisms and bacteria to help them do this. Working a bit of actual soil into the planting medium will be very benefi cial, but even better would be to pot up the plant into a larger size. Roses, including miniatures, like large pots and soon get so root bound in smaller containers that they fail to thrive. Increase the pot size by at least one size.

If you are successful at keeping your miniature rose healthy until spring, plant it outside and care for it as you care for your other roses. In the fall, if you wish, pot it up; roses need a dormant period,

and the plant should be allowed to go dormant and lose its leaves – allow as much of this as possible to occur naturally by leaving

the pot outside until cold weather arrives.

Then place it in a cool, dark location until late

January when the rose can be cut back, brought into the warmth and light, and encouraged into new growth. Hopefully you will get a second year of enjoyment from it. Keeping a miniature rose thriving is a challenge for even the experienced gardener, but it might offer a welcome task during the long, cold winter.

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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