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Roses: Grow Mini for Maxi Reward

by Lynn Hunt

No other flower in history has enjoyed the admiration and tradition of the
rose. According to legend, roses perfumed the Garden of Eden, and since that
time the Queen of Flowers has enchanted and influenced virtually every
culture on Earth. During the 18th century, a new "midget" rose captivated
European royalty. Where it came from is one of the rose world’s great
mysteries. Some say it traveled to the western world along with China
traders. Others say it was found growing wild in a window box in Switzerland.
Still others say it fell off the back of an Australian ship and drifted to
shore.  No one really knows but one thing is sure, the miniature or "fairy"
rose has become a worldwide sensation.

Today more than ever, new generations of enthusiasts are discovering the
pleasure of cultivating miniature roses. Almost everyone can find room for a
few minis, and anyone can grow them, including children and inexperienced
gardeners. They make a colorful addition to perennial beds and borders. They
can brighten a winter windowsill indoors. And despite their fragile
appearance, miniature roses are very hardy.

Minis Offer Mega Choices
   
Like their larger cousins, miniature roses boast a vast array of sizes,
colors and forms. Micro minis such as Little Dickens, Cinderella and Bo Peep
reach a height of only 4 to 6 inches and are tailor-made for windowsill
gardens. Rise N Shine, Beauty Secret and Suzy are far more vigorous and will
likely grow to at least 2 feet.  Many miniatures including Minnie Pearl,
Black Jade and Kristin have the perfect spiraling high-centered bloom of a
hybrid tea, while others like Lemon Delight are covered with an old-
fashioned fragrant moss.
   
Climbing minis such as Jeanne LaJoie and Snowfall can smother an 8-foot
fence.  Red Cascade can be trained as a ground cover and is perfectly suited
for hanging baskets. There are even miniatures that resemble antique or
English roses. In other words, no matter what special accent you need in the
garden, there is a miniature rose that can fill the bill.

Mini Culture
   
Miniature roses require the same care as any other rose. They need at least
a half-day of direct sunlight and good soil that drains well and contains
plenty of organic matter. Add peat moss, sand, perlite or compost to amend
your soil as necessary.

Minis also like frequent feedings and lots of water. Once your roses begin to
sprout new leaves you can start applying a balanced fertilizer according to
package directions. Don’t think that more is better – too much of a good
thing can burn tender roots. Also be sure to offer at least a gallon of water
per bush per week.

Your minis may fall prey to the same diseases and insect infestations as
larger roses; however the major threat is spider mites. These nasty creatures
can actually defoliate and kill a bush. The best preventative is to direct a
strong spray of water to the undersides of miniature rose leaves at least
once weekly. Aside from being vigilant about spider mites, you’ll find
miniatures are quite easy to grow.  They tend to be more forgiving than
larger bushes and they don’t require constant pampering. In fact, you can
prune minis one stem at a time like hybrid teas or with a hedge trimmer.
Either way they’ll come back strong.

Miniature roses are naturally hardy because they grow on their own roots.
However if you live in an area where winter temperatures consistently fall
below 10° F (-12° C) you will need protection, so cover the base of the rose
with lots of mulch.

Displaying your tiny treasures
   
With little more than routine care, miniature roses will provide a
spectacular show of baby blooms about every six weeks. Part of the fun of
growing these Lilliputian treasures is discovering new and unusual ways to
display the dainty, distinctive bouquets. Ceramic thimbles, egg cups, cream
pitchers and jelly jars are just a few possibilities. Hit the antique shops
and flea markets and you’ll soon find all kinds of inspirations.  By then the
spell will be cast and you’ll find yourself in the company of 18th century
royalty -- hopelessly addicted to the charm and beauty of the miniature rose.



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