Pruning Miniature Roses

Question:

 I purchased and planted several miniature roses for a border. The bushes have done very well, but I’m wondering if they need to be pruned like the other roses this winter?

Answer:

  • Miniature roses are pruned annually but not like the typical Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora or Floribunda varieties, which I’ll refer to collectively as ‘garden roses’. It’s a lot simpler and is very similar to a hedge or shrub rose.
  • Miniature roses have many more canes of varying sizes depending on the age of the plant. Hence, they tend to exhibit a bushy or twiggy growth habit, especially the younger plants. You’ll also find that the spacing between the growth buds is much shorter than the other rose varieties. This affords more flexibility in choosing where to cut when you prune verses a typical garden rose.
  • With our mild winters, miniature roses don’t go completely dormant. Thus, there should be plenty of foliage still on the bushes. I’d put on a pair of gloves and manually strip the canes, removing as much of the foliage as possible.
  • Next, hose off the plants with a steady stream of water to clean out the loose debris from the center.  You have now exposed the overall structure of the hedge.  Although you planted individual plants, the growth should have merged to form a hedge. Thus, when pruning the hedge, it’s one canopy with multiple stems. You don’t prune each plant.
  • The actual pruning has three steps; removing the dead wood, thinning out the canopy, and reducing the overall shape of the plant or in this case the hedge.
    • A garden stool or bench, available at your favorite garden center, is convenient if bending over is a problem.
    • I’m impatient so, I’d prune the bulk of the hedge with an electric hedge trimmer as your goal is to shape the plant. This is not recommended with garden roses.
  •  The dead wood removal and thinning of the canopy is done with a pair of pruning shears or scissors.  The close spacing of the buds makes this possible with little dieback. You start at the bottom of the plants and work your way up, another reason for a garden stool. You could be removing a lot of growth or very little.
  • It’s a judgment call on your part as for how much of the growth, you remove. For individual plants in containers. I’d use a pair of pruning shears for shaping.
  • Although they could be pruned now, you could also wait until the end of February. This is just before the spring flush of growth. After pruning, clean up all the current and leftover debris from the base of the plants. Also, it is recommended to make one application of copper or a dormant oil spray after pruning.
  • Miniature Roses are heavy feeders just like the other garden roses, so they are fed monthly through October with Rose Food.  Another option is to feed them with the time-release fertilizer, Osmocote. Now every time, you water a little bit of nutrients are released. Two applications, four months apart, feeds the hedge for the entire season