Miniature Roses

Gardeners find roses irresistible for their beauty and long flowering season. Miniature roses have the same charms, plus the appeal of all things tiny.

The small size of many new gardens, and the increasing trend towards container planting, have led to a considerable increase in the popularity of miniature roses. Their tiny, dainty flowers have an appeal all of their own, and the small-sized plants – sometimes no more than 20cm/8in high – enable rose lovers to plant a pleasing selection where there is no room for ordinary full-size rose bushes. Miniatures offer everything desirable in a rose – they are all repeat flowering, with a long season of bloom, and many are fragrant. The varieties available offer all the range of beautiful colours found in their larger cousins, reds, oranges, pinks, whites, yellows, lilac, bi-colours and even a near-green. The flowers are almost always double, and the plants themselves, despite their delicate appearance, are perfectly hardy.

The term miniature rose encompasses two distinct types: true miniatures and slightly larger plants that are some-times catalogued as patio roses. There are also a few climbing miniature roses, and some varieties are also available as standards, growing a single straight stem about 30cm/1ft high.

Renoir's painting of cabbage roses, Roses in a...

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Potted history

The miniature rose is not a new introduction – they were very popular in Victorian days, but gradually fell out of fashion and had all but disappeared by 1900.

Then, in 1918, a Major Roulet happened on a tiny pot-grown rose in Switzerland, which became known as Rosa rouletii. From this small beginning came the legions of present-day miniature roses.

Miniature roses are ex-tremely popular in the United States, where they are used as house plants. In Britain, they do not succeed very well in-doors, and many people be-came disillusioned with them.

The reason is that the plants are raised differently. In the USA they are grown from cuttings, which makes them slow-growing and not very hardy, but guarantees they will remain small. In Britain the plants are generally grafted on to rootstocks of larger roses. This makes them hardier, faster-growing, and suited to life outdoors – but also means they can eventually grow undesirably large.

Ancient and modern

As with full-size roses, some miniature varieties have been in cultivation for a very long time. The bright pink ‘Pompon de Paris’, for example, was very popular in Victorian times. Others date back to the 1940s, but most of the big sellers are modern roses, produced by hybridists in the 1970s and 1980s. They are very fond of naming their babies after British TV personalities – if you wish you can buy ‘Anna Ford’, ‘Angela Rippon’ and ‘Penelope Keith’.

One of the very latest patio roses is ‘Queen Mother’, launched in 1990 to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. This has semi-double flowers in a delightful soft pink shade, and a very dainty, delicate appearance. If you are looking for something really unusual, there’s even a pale, creamy green-flowered miniature – it’s called ‘Green Diamond’.


Baby Faurax Amethyst. The most remarkable ‘blue’ colour in roses. Small, flat, double flowers, on a stumpy plant that can really do with protection. Not strictly speaking a miniature, but the height fits. Average height. Raised by Lille (France) 1924.

Baby Masquerade Yellow marked pink. The easiest miniature to grow, with plenty of shoots, tiny leaves and narrow-petalled flowers similar in effect to Masquerade. Average height or more. Raised by Tantau (Germany) 1956.

Coralin Coral red. Flowers are well formed, double, and a trifle larger than most miniatures. Small leaves with a bronze tint. Average height. Raised by Dot (Spain) 1955.

Easter Morning Cream. Well-shaped buds, true miniature roses. Average height. Raised by Moore (USA) 1960.

Miniature Roses

Humpty Dumpty Pink. May not be easy to find. Very short, with little flowers of fifty petals or more. Below average height. Raised by De Vink (Holland) 1950.

Little Buckaroo Crimson. Pretty miniature buds, opening semi-double. The plant, however, manages quite a lot of growth, up to twice average height, but with miniature leaves. Raised by Moore (USA) 1956.

Little Flirt Orange pink touched yellow. The leaves a trifle larger than most, the flowers more open. But it certainly gives a shameless performance. Above average height. Raised by Moore (USA) 1961. New Penny Salmon red. Flowers, growth and leaves are all that one expects a miniature should be. Glossy foliage. Average height. Raised by Moore (USA) 1962. Perla de Alcanada Light crimson. Double flowers, opening flat, the colour not particularly bright. The plant makes a little thicket, and this admirable habit has enabled it to survive for no other miniature grows into such a good little plant. Above average height. Raised by Dot (Spain) 1945.

Pour Toi White touched yellow at base. Small neat flowers and leaves on a bushy little plant. Average height. Raised by Dot (Spain) 1946.

Rosina Yellow. Pretty buds, opening semi-double. Well known under its English name, Josephine Wheatcroft. Watch it for blackspot. Above average height. Raised by Dot (Spain) 1951.

Sweet Fairy Pink. A tiny plant with double flowers. Below average height. Raised by De Vink (Holland) 1946.

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