Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
I'm a sucker for plants on the clearance rack. I rationalize spending a little money on the chance that I may save a plant from certain death. Miniature roses were one of the first plants I ever rescued from the clearance rack. Of course I went overboard and bought one of each color I could find. Arriving home with my purchases, I was greeted with my mom's exasperated sigh of "Did you really need to buy more plants?" To this day she still asks me this question, though she knows the answer is always a loud "YES!"
Miniature roses are deceptively delicate in appearance, yet one of the most hardy plants in the garden. They easily survive winters in zones 6-10, and reportedly can survive to zone 4 with heavy mulch. Indoors, they need some pampering. Two factors that need particular attention are water and pests.
I can't emphasize enough the importance of not over- or under- watering. Over-watering will promote root rot, ultimately killing the plant. The fine roots of an under-watered miniature rose are prone to damage from lack of moisture.
A dry environment will promote the dreaded spider mite. Most of the plants I bought from the clearance rack were there because they were infested with spider mites. The first evidence of spider mites is minute discolorations on the surface of the leaf. Carefully shaking leaves over white paper will produce tiny moving dots. These are the mites. Eventually, the mites produce fine webbing all over the plant.
Forceful water sprays, insecticidal soap or indoor pesticide specifically listed for both spider mites and miniature rose are good controls. Better yet is prevention. Keeping the humidity high around the roses discourages spider mites. Humidity can be raised by misting the plant, or by placing it on top of pebbles in a dish filled with water. With a little preventive care, miniature roses bloom profusely indoors. For more information, call the Master Gardeners at 877-6872.