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How to Prune Miniature Roses AND Grow New Roses from the Cuttings!

Easy Instructions for Saving Your Mother’s Day Rose Plant

Did you know that pruning flowers is also called “Dead-Heading”? Sounds like something from a horror film, right?

Mom taught me how to dead-head when I helped her in the garden as a kid. I never liked that term. “Pruning” is much nicer, more fluid, less violent. Don’t you agree?

At any rate, I’ve always struggled with keeping those potted rose plants alive. You know… the ones you get as housewarming or Mother’s Day gifts? Years ago, I lived next door to an award-winning gardener whose home was on the Short North Garden Tour in Columbus, Ohio. His specialty? Roses. His yard was filled with lush roses of every kind. I was lucky to live right next door.

Because I had failed to keep roses alive in the past, I picked his brain for some tips. I did not expect him to tell me it was difficult and a lot of work! His answer totally intimidated me. As an amateur gardener of plants and flowers (hubby does all the edibles…more on that later), I gave up on keeping a rose plant alive…or an orchid for that matter.

My green thumb neighbor made caring for roses sound like cracking the code to quantum field theory. I accepted his word as gospel, and I gave up trying…for years.

But you know what? It’s not that hard.

I’ve learned that when a person tells you something is too hard or too difficult, what they really mean is that it is too difficult for them. This doesn’t have to apply to you. Only if you believe it. Sometimes the anxiety we create over the simplest things we think are insurmountable can stop us from moving forward and learning something new.

My daughter taught me about the concept of “Failing Forward” when she was in the first grade. I had never heard this before. I was thrilled! How cool that she was learning not to fear failure in her school.

Such a simple mindset shift for kids, but what a positive impact it can make…for the rest of their lives! Wish I had learned this as a child…would have saved me a lot of grief over the years.  

It’s like flipping a light switch from I can’t to I can try. We might fail, but we also might succeed and we’ll never know unless we try.   

The good news is…it’s never too late! There is always room for growth and expansion. Okay, let’s do this!

Like most of us during this bizarre, history-in-the-making Covid-19 shutdown… my rose plant desperately needed a haircut!

I left “Rosie” in the same spot and never turned the pot so she started growing towards the light.

Dried blooms & stems on the right

Plus, those pesky weeds moved in…clearly, she needed a little maintenance.

Attack of the killer weeds!

Pruning Miniature Roses Step-by-Step

Tools:

  • Gloves (Optional, but those tiny thorns hurt!)
  • Household Scissors or Pruning Shears (The stems are pretty thin and regular scissors work just fine.)

Steps:

  1. Remove any dead or dying leaves, and brown flowers/stems where the blossom has already fallen off.
Dried up leaves
Dried, brown rose bloom and stem
  1. Follow the stem down to the first leaf node that has 5 leaflets.
Cut just above a 5-leaf node
  1. The top of the stem, just below the bloom, may have only 1 or 3 leaflets growing. You want to prune down to just above the node that has 5 leaves.
This is the first leaf node from the top of the rose looking down.
It only has 3 leaves (see dead flower at bottom of pic).

  1. Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve pruned, you may want to go lower and bypass a few more 5-leaf nodes to make the plant look healthier & fuller (as opposed to twiggy…and I’m not talking about the 1960s fashion icon, Twiggy.)
  1. Cut just above the leaf node…

* Some say to cut at a 45-degree angle for better water absorption; others say it doesn’t matter. I experimented with both on this plant.

Drumroll please… that’s it!

NOT HARD AT ALL.

I left a tall bud on one side so I can watch it bloom.

I also left the 2 blossoms because they are so pretty! I’ll prune those back when they wilt.

Look Ma, no weeds!

Roses love the sun…heat & humidity are their friends. I kept my plant inside for a month or so, then repotted it to a larger container on our back patio… and it’s growing fast! Our growing zone is 10. You can find yours by entering your zip code here: Burpee Growing Zone Finder.

How to Prepare Roses for Winter

We grow flowers outdoors year-round, but if you live in a colder climate, you’ll need to prepare them with some very simple steps for winter.

  1. Remove the dead flowers and stems. It’s not necessary to prune in the fall.
  2. If your rose plants are in the ground, just mulch and let them go dormant.
  3. If you have potted roses, you can bring them into your house or garage for the winter. Just make sure to keep the soil from completely drying out.

Bonus!

You can even grow new roses from your cuttings! Disclaimer: This is the first time I’ve tried this, so I’ll update with photos of this experiment.

How to Grow Roses from Stem Cuttings

  1. Remove all lower leaves and only let 1 or 2 leaflets remain at the top of the stem.
  2. Remove the thorns from the bottom 1-2” of the stem.
  3. Take scissors and scrape the lower 1” of the stem to damage it. “Shaving” the bottom of the stem allows the roots to propagate faster.
Remove thorns and start shaving the end of the stem!

Scraped or “Shaved” stems
  1. Optional: Dip your grafted stem in rooting hormone to encourage new roots to grow. (Tip: wet the roots first)
  1. Poke a hole in your soil and stick your stems in the dirt. (I used a cut straw)
  1. Lightly pack soil around stems and add water.

  1. Cover loosely with a plastic bag. Make sure air can get in and don’t let the bag touch the leaves at the top. I stuck 2 chopsticks in mine to hold the bag up and away from the leaves.
  1. Maintain humidity by spraying with water every few days.
  2. Expose them to indirect light, not full sun.
  3. In about a month, roots should have formed. You can check by pulling lightly on the stems and they should remain stuck in the dirt.
  4. Let them grow for a month or two more before transplanting.

I’ll post follow-up photos when “Rosie” has bloomed again and the cuttings have sprouted.

Rosie enjoying the sun with her friends 🌱

UPDATE JULY 31, 2020 (5 weeks later):

Full disclosure…I left the plastic on the cuttings too long. The chopsticks got moldy and a few of the stems died off and turned brown. But TWO survived!!

I took this photo on July 19…they not only survived, they also rooted and even grew new sprouts!

I just took the photo below (July 31, 2020). Look how big the sprouts have grown in just 5 weeks!

Beautiful rose sprouts grown from a clipping!!

I pruned more off the main plant, took the largest clippings, and planted them in the same pot (you can see them behind my hand in the photo above).

This time, I’m not going to cover it in plastic. I think the Florida summer heat & humidity is all we need. I’m very happy with this progress! Stay tuned…I’ll update with another post!

Happy Summer and Happy Gardening! 🌹

The Geek's Wife

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