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Invite 'the Queen of Flowers' Inside

March 10, 2001|From ASSOCIATED PRESS

For growing indoor blooms in winter, why not try for the ultimate: roses?

Miniature roses are a good choice for windowsills. A variety such as Lyn Gold, for example, grows only 6 inches tall and sports lemon-yellow blossoms the size of a nickel.

Miniature roses trace their lineage to a plant found about a century ago by a Col. Roulet in Switzerland, a miniature variety of China rose. This dainty find was crossed with hybrid tea and other roses, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The color range of miniature roses now embraces shades and combinations of whites, yellows and reds. On some varieties, the petals are knit into a tight bud like those of hybrid teas; blossom shape might be like a miniature hybrid tea or loose and floppy like wild roses. Original miniature roses were scentless, but newer hybrids such as Sachet and Singles Better fill the air with their delicate scents.

Plans for indoor rose blooms should begin in autumn. If you have miniature roses planted in the ground, dig up a plant and pot it up. A 6-inch pot is adequate for a rose as small as Lyn Gold, along with any standard potting mix. A purchased plant will already be in a pot, but may need to be shifted to a slightly larger one.

After giving the potted plant a thorough watering, keep it cool to hold back top growth while roots take hold in the potting soil. A sunny window in a cool room or a garage could provide temperatures close to the ideal 50 degrees Fahrenheit for this stage of growth.

After a few weeks of cool temperatures, the plant is ready for some warmth to stimulate growth of new shoots and leaves. Put the plant in the sunniest window you have, and in no time you should see shoots capped by fat flower buds, which soon open.

Keep on the lookout for pests. Indoor roses are particularly attractive to aphids, red spider mites and powdery mildew. Hand crushing, sprays of water or insecticidal soap, and equable temperatures should avert any of these problems before they turn into disasters.

Even if roses are not the easiest of plants to grow indoors, consider giving a try to "the queen of flowers." Your miniature rose might be more appropriately called "a princess of flowers."

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