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GARDENING : It's a Small Wonder That Miniature Roses Fit In Almost Anywhere


Miniature roses are among the most adaptable plants around.

The 6- to 12-inch tall roses with miniature canes, foliage and flowers can be placed in a rockery, a border, a bed or a pot; planted in a window box or a tub; grown in a garden, greenhouse or small conservatory, or they can thrive as house plants for a limited time. They can grow as small bushes, ground cover, hanging plants or climbers.

"The great thing about miniature roses is that they can be grown in small pots, redwood barrels or hanging baskets," says Cal Hayes, president of the Orange County chapter of the American Rose Society.

"You don't have to have a large back garden to grow and enjoy roses," says Hayes, who has 300 miniature roses growing around his North Tustin home.

And miniature roses come in a variety of colors--from lavenders and greens to whites, yellows, reds and bright pinks.

Miniature roses--probably developed through various Chinese roses--were sold in Asia and Europe around the 1700s. But there were only four well-known miniature rose varieties available until 1935, when hybridizers got busy creating new ones. Today, hundreds are available.

There are six basic groupings of miniature roses: hybrid tea; floribunda; old garden rose; moss rose; the eye-catchers and the ground huggers.

'Starina' (a vermilion-scarlet) miniature in the hybrid tea style, is the best-selling miniature in the world. It grows well in pots, boxes, beds and as a climber. Other popular hybrid tea styles include 'Magic Carrousel' (white, red-tipped), 'Party Girl' (apricot blend), 'Darling Flame' (bright orange) and 'Peaches 'n Cream' (blend).

The floribunda style has three or more blooms per stem but appears flatter than hybrids. Some of them include 'Cinderella' (white), 'Blue Mist' (lavender), 'Stacey Sue' (light pink) and 'Little Buckaroo' (red).

The old garden rose style includes 'Single Bliss' (red and white), 'Mimi' (medium pink) and 'Pompon de Paris' (rose red).

Moss roses have many tiny prickles around the bud of the flower and include 'Dresden Doll' (light pink), 'Fair Moss' (medium pink), 'Honest Abe' (dark red) and 'Honey Moss' (white).

Popular eye-catchers are 'Stars 'n' Stripes' (red and white stripes), 'Angel Darling' (mauve), 'Lavender Lace' (lavender), 'Green Diamond' and 'Green Ice' (both white with hints of green).

The ground huggers began with the Japanese-raised Nozomi. From it, hybridizers have produced varieties such as 'Angelita' and 'Snow Carpet' (both good for hanging baskets) and 'Bambino' (pink), 'Woman's Own' (pink) and 'Coral Treasure' (all low-growing plants).

A hedge of miniatures is ideal for dividing a garden because it will not rob the rest of the garden of sunshine or light, and it creates a lively strip of color.

Miniatures also will live indoors for about two months with good light, constant temperatures and adequate (but not excessive) watering. To extend their time, bring them indoors for two weeks at a time when they are in full flower then return them to the outside.

When buying a miniature rose plant, look for a healthy specimen that has been in a nursery for weeks.

To keep it healthy, you'll need good drainage that prevents the plant from getting too dry or waterlogged and soil with an pH (acid/alkali) balance of 6:5. Use peat to increase acidity, nitro-chalk to increase alkalinity.

Premix a separate bucket of soil using a bucket of granulated peat and a handful of rose fertilizer mixed thoroughly together.

The most productive way to increase miniatures is by cuttings. Select a cutting that has carried a flower, trim off the bottom two sets of leaves and dip the cutting in a rooting powder or gel. Plant it in a small pot with cutting compost and keep it moist. When it is established, plant it in pots, containers or beds.

Or, you can plant the new cuttings into the parent plant's pot. The soil around a well-grown mini is usually excellent for cutting growth, and the parent plant's foliage protects the little plant from direct sunlight. Root it out and transfer it when it is established.

The Orange County chapter of the American Rose Society holds meetings on the first Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Community Services and Recreation Department Building, Civic Center, 8200 Westminster Blvd., Westminster.

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