The Incredibly Versatile
Santa Clarita, California
Of all the different types of roses available (miniatures, hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, climbers, shrubs, and old garden roses) the miniature roses are surely the most versatile roses that I have ever grown. They are available in a wide spectrum of colors, sizes, bloom styles, and growth habits. There are thousands of varieties available. And, they can be purchased practically year-round.
Miniature roses take up so little space. And with such a vast array from which to choose, you could quickly fill your garden with hundreds.
A RAINBOW OF COLORS FOR MINIATURE ROSES
Let's start with bloom colors. Miniature roses come in almost every hue imaginable from the purest white to the darkest red, plus pink, yellow, orange, mauve, russet and many shades and blends in between. There are many striped miniature roses such as red and white, yellow and red, orange and yellow, and pink and red. There's a mini color for everybody's whim or taste, except the truest blue, grassy green, and the deepest midnight black. So, don't limit yourself to only the basic mini rose colors you might see at the supermarket. Instead, try some of the more exotic colors of the spectrum.
OFFICIAL ARS COLOR CLASSES
The 18 distinct color classes of the American Rose Society are:
w: white, near white & white blend
ly: light yellow
my: medium yellow
dy: deep yellow
yb: yellow blend
ab: apricot & apricot blend
ob: orange & orange blend
op: orange pink & orange pink blend
or: orange red & orange red blend
lp: light pink
mp: medium pink
dp: deep pink
pb: pink blend
mr: medium red
dr: dark red
rb: red blend
m: mauve & mauve blend
NOTES ON BLOOM COLORS OF MINIATURE ROSES
Be careful when selecting mini roses based just on their official color class. Read the descriptions in the catalog of what the color looks like. Even the photos on the web sites or in the catalogs can be deceiving or not entirely accurate. Colors can change depending on the time of year, microclimate, and cultural practice. It's best to actually see the rose growing or on display at a rose show before making your final selection, so that you won't be disappointed.
UNUSUAL COLOR EXAMPLES
'Green Ice,' has a definite greenish cast, but is classed as white since ARS has no green color class.
'Black Jade' can sometimes look blackish if grown in partial shade, but is really only a dark red.
'Fairhope' is classed as a light yellow, but looks white in my garden.
'Child's Play' has quite a bit of pink on the edges, but is classed as a white (or white blend).
'Hurdy Gurdy' has red and white striped blooms, and is classed as red blend.
'Anytime' is classed as orange-pink, but it also has a lavendar eye.
FLOWER FORM & BLOOM SIZE
Miniature roses are replicas of the larger roses in our gardens. Some grow like hybrid teas, some look like floribundas, and even others resemble the old garden roses. They range from the single-petalled bloom with only 5 petals, or semi-double with 12 to 15 petals, while others are very heavily-petalled with perhaps 40 petals. Some are casual and decorative and make good garden roses, and others have the more formal, classic hybrid tea buds with long stems that are perfect for exhibition at the rose shows.
Even the size of the miniature rose blooms are vastly different, and could range from 1/4 inch to 2 inches or more when fully open. The tiniest are the micro minis such as 'Baby Betsy McCall' and 'Si', while the biggest are the new mini-floras such as 'Autumn Splendor,' 'Tiffany Lynn' and 'Quiet Time.' But most of the minis fall into the middle size range, and even still there is a wide range of bloom sizes within that middle range.
Thirty years ago the petite miniature rose bloom size was more popular. But tastes change, and so the bigger mini rose bloom size has become more in demand, which is why the even larger miniflora roses are now being offered.
Single-Petalled Miniature Roses
The American Rose Society defines a single-petalled rose as one having only 5 to 8 petals (usually a single row). This certainly does not bring to mind one of those long-stemmed beauties seen in the florist shop or at the head of the trophy table. And, in the garden their blooms are only fleeting. So exactly what is the attraction of single-petalled roses? Just like gourmet food, one must develop a taste for single-petalled roses. Hybridizer Harmon Saville said it best when he exclaimed, " ... only the most sophisticated rose growers like them." Indeed, most modern-day hybridizers are quick to toss out their single-petalled rose seedlings.
But, more and more single-petalled miniature roses are coming on the market these days, and the 10-petalled Playgold won the prestigious Award of Excellence in 1998. Other popular single-petalled roses are the bright yellow 'My Sunshine', red with yellow eye 'Why Not,' the hand-painted red and white 'Peggy T', orange with lavender eye 'Anytime', purest white 'Grace Seward' (now classed as a mini-flora) bright orange with red eye ' Halo Today' and the red with white eye 'Hoot Owl'. The single with unusual coloration seem to be the most popular mini roses.
The charm of the old garden roses and shrub roses has not been lost on the miniatures. A number of mini roses have "decorative" or "casual" form that will find themselves at home in the cottage gardens of today. 'Marriotta' is a delightful deep pink ruffled miniature rose hybridized by Sam McGredy. 'Red Minimo' and other miniature roses of its ilk are apparently quite popular at the supermarket checkout stands. 'Antique Tapestry' from John Clements of Heirloom Roses, has a unique burgundy bloom with golden reverse.
For the discriminating rose exhibitor, there are a number of minis that fit the bill. These top exhibition miniature roses have the classic hybrid tea form: 'Fairhope', 'Irresistible', 'Behold' and 'Miss Flippins'. Others include 'Glowing Amber', 'Alysheba', The Lighthouse', 'Magic Show', 'Daddy Frank', and 'Renegade'. Of course, all miniature roses can be exhibited, but those mentioned here are some of the top "Queen" contenders.
GROWTH HABITS OF MINIATURE ROSES
Miniature rose bush heights will vary from 12 inches to 36 inches and sometimes even taller. They mostly grow on their own roots (except budded tree roses), and therefore are very hardy in colder climates.
Some mini roses are compact and bushy, like 'Rainbow's End' while others are tall and stately such as 'Irresistible."
Some grow one-bloom-per-stem, while others produce a multitude of sprays (inflorescence). 'Kristin' is one of my favorites for producing armloads of red and white sprays.
Looking for a climbing rose? Don't overlook the minis. There are a number of climbing miniatures. 'Red Cascade' has a multitude of decorative blooms that will blanket a shed. 'Climbing Earthquake' has red and yellow striped blooms. 'Jeanne Lajoie' is covered with pink blooms and is great for training along a fence. And my all-time favorite climbing mini is the red and white striped mini 'Hurdy Gurdy' which was hybridized by Sam McGredy. Although not officially a climber, my Hurdy Gurdy has grown more than 8 feet tall. For an interesting specimen plant, try 'Rollercoaster', a red and white striped mini that has a spreading growth habit, or what some call cascading. Rollercoaster can also be trained as a climber.
A number of mini roses are available grafted onto tree stock to provide us with mini tree roses. I've seen them in 12-inch and 18-inch heights. One of the best mini trees is 'Rainbow's End' because it is bushy and compact and seems to always be in bloom.
Some miniature roses are wonderful for hanging baskets. My favorite for hanging baskets is 'Sweet Chariot' and I have seven plants. The bloom color begins dark purple and fades to pastel lavender. Other minis suitable for hanging baskets are 'Orange Honey' and 'Green Ice'.
FRAGRANT MINIATURE ROSES
Looking for roses with fragrance? A number of the miniature roses are intensely fragrant. The two most fragrant are 'Scentsational' and 'Sweet Chariot'. Both are mauve, with 'Scentsational' displaying the more classic hybrid tea form, while 'Sweet Chariot' has loose and fluffy blooms produced in clusters. A bouquet of twelve 'Scentsational' will fill a room with sweet fragrance. 'Jean Kenneally' is a lovely apricot mini with strong fragrance. 'Winter Magic' from Ralph Moore has light greyish-mauve blooms with attractive fragrance. Other fragrant minis are 'Make Believe', Seattle Scentsation', 'Sachet' and the Award of Excellence winner 'Winsome'.
MINIATURE ROSES ARE EASY TO GROW!
Some people mistakenly believe that miniature roses are difficult to grow. Not true! I've been growing minis for more than ten years and I now have about 175 plants, all in 7-gallon pots, outdoors in full sun. In my opinion, they are the easiest to grow. Why do some people believe mini roses are difficult to grow? Because they don't know HOW to grow them. The truth is that all roses do take some care. They simply cannot thrive on neglect. But miniature roses are much easier to grow than you might think. After all, miniature roses are just like the bigger roses in every respect, except size.
MINIATURE ROSES TRULY ARE VERSATILE
Whether it's exhibiting, arranging, container gardening, or just cutting for your home, there's a wide selection of miniature roses from which to choose. You can also use them for drying and potpourri. Miniatures are great in the landscape, and they are the best companion plant your larger roses can have. As you can see, the versatile miniature roses offer something for everyone.
Tips for Growing Better Miniature Roses
- Wash them down completely at least twice a week to prevent spider mites.
- Prune miniature roses hard annually.
- Start miniature roses in 1-gallon pots for six months to get them off to a fast start.
- Grow minis in a 7-gallon pot to allow them to reach their fullest potential; grow mini climbers in the ground.
- Grow them in a good planting medium such as potting soil.
- Repot them at least every three years.
- Never fertilize a dry plant; water the plant very well the day before feeding.
- Fertilize miniature roses at least monthly with organics such as fish emulsion.
- Deadhead the spent blooms to encourage continual blooming.
- Keep the pots well watered, which could mean daily in the summer.
- Let the pots drain freely; do not place the pots on a tray holding water.
- Spray miniature roses with insecticide and fungicide as needed.
- Raise the pots up to waist height so that you can tend them more easily.
- Grow roses in full sun, or at least a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day.
- Mini roses will not be happy growing indoors or in the shade.
- Avoid planting roses close to trees.
© Copyright Kitty Belendez. All rights reserved.
This article was originally published in "Rose Ecstasy," bulletin of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor.
Photos © Copyright by Kitty Belendez
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