Gardening Articles: Health :: Houseplants
Miniature Roses For the Holidays (page 3 of 3)
by Karen Dardick
Growing Mini Roses Indoors
Veteran gardener Ann Hooper of Reading, Massachusetts, loves roses and has filled her garden with more than 350 roses of all types, including at least 50 varieties of miniature roses. She also enjoys holiday blooms by growing dozens of 6-inch pots indoors in a specially constructed system featuring fluorescent lights. In her cellar, she has set up a custom-designed, two-tier growing table; each tier has four 4-foot fluorescent light tubes, two cool white and two warm white. She places pots in 6- to 8-inch-deep trays under the lights. Here's what she recommends:
1. Buy new plants each season to ensure that your plants are free of diseases and pests. In November, order 2-inch potted plants from companies that specialize in miniature roses.
2. Select varieties described as good for pot forcing or suitable for containers. Many miniature roses are suitable, but those that are shorter and especially floriferous perform better.
3. When the 2-inch potted plants arrive, immediately repot each one into a 6-inch container. Use a commercial potting mixture containing perlite and vermiculite.
4. Water thoroughly, and place the pots under fluorescent lights in trays with pebbles and water in them. Never let plants dry out completely.
5. To reduce the chances of pests and diseases, bathe each plant once a week under running water, washing the undersides of leaves as well as the tops.
6. Fertilize weekly with a fertilizer diluted to one-quarter strength. To encourage blooms, select a fertilizer with a formula high in potassium, such as 5-5-10.
7. Watch carefully for any sign of pests. Spray whiteflies with a lightweight horticultural oil. If spider mites become a problem, wash plants thoroughly every 2 to 3 days. For a severe infestation of spider mites, strip all leaves and cut the plant back by half. Healthy new growth will emerge rapidly.
8. Buds should appear about 6 weeks after repotting. When the buds start to open, bring the pot into the living area to enjoy. Flowers should stay attractive and healthy for 10 to 14 days.
9. When flowering has finished, return plants to the light table and repeat the process for a second bloom cycle. Allow about 6 weeks for flowers to develop.
10. After the last frost in your area, gradually acclimate plants to outdoor air. In spring, plant them in the garden or in an outdoor container.
Los Angeles-based Karen Dardick is a rose enthusiast and a regular contributor to National Gardening.
Photography by John Goodman