Taking care of indoor roses is very easy but there are a few best practices you need to follow for a healthy rose and the best display of flowers…
- Choose the right pot to prevent root rot
- Place your Rose in a spot with 6 (or more) hours of sunlight
- Check soil moisture twice a week in hot weather
- Water well once per week (not little and often)
- How to care for your indoor rose in winter
- Good air circulation (keep away for air con)
- Prune back your indoor rose in early spring
- Choose the right fertilizer (avoid unpleasant smells)
- Deadhead spent flowers for better blooms
- When to transplant your rose to a bigger pot
Now let’s look at these steps in more detail…
Choose the Right Pot to Prevent Root Rot
Choosing the right pot for your indoor rose is essential. Check your pot has sufficient drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to escape freely.
Roses love a ‘soak and dry’ cycle of watering where the soil receives a generous amount of water and then the soil is allowed to dry between intervals of watering.
Inevitably this means water will collect in the bottom if your pot doesn’t have holes for drainage.
Of course it is not practical if every time you water your rose, the excess water drains out the bottom onto your window sill or bench.
The solution is to place the pot onto a paper towel and leave it there to absorb the excess drained moisture for a good 10 minutes.
Another common mistake is to place the pot containing the rose, into another more decorative pot or onto a plate that collects and traps any run off after watering.
If the water stays in a puddle under the pot, the roots of the rose will be sitting in stagnant water which will eventually lead to the roots of your rose rotting and the plant dying.
Allow water to escape through your pot and you will have no problems.
Place Your Rose in the Sunniest Spot in your House
Roses need at least 6 hours of light per day to stay healthy, disease resistant and to produce plentiful flowers. If they are in partial shade, the rose will become leggy with plenty of weak growth and a distinct lack of flowers.
Take the time to monitor how much sunlight your window sill or conservatory receives in a typical sunny day.
Morning sun is preferred but it is more important that the rose is in direct sunlight for more then 6 hours per day during the growing season and you will have a healthy rose.
Check Soil Moisture 2 Twice Per Week in Hot Weather
Soil in pots tends to dry out much quicker then the soil in gardens, which means your indoor rose can become dehydrated if you are not careful.
Roses love plenty of sunshine on their leaves, however if this sunlight heats up the roses container then this can increase the evaporation rate from the soil.
You also need to bear in mind that because your rose is restricted to a pot indoors, the rose does not receive any supplementary rainfall in addition to your weekly watering and there is a limited amount of soil that the roots can draw moisture from so you need to be consistent with your watering and keep tabs on soil moisture in the hot summer.
To test whether your rose needs watering, simply place your finger into the soil about an inch down and see if you can detect any moisture. If the soil is still moist then you can wait a day or so before watering. If the soil is on the dry side then this is the perfect time to water.
Remember roses like the soil to be somewhat dry in between watering so do not feel you are neglecting your rose by waiting for the soil to dry out.
The aim is to water once per week but if the soil feels dry and the temperature in your house is particularly hot because of warmer weather, give your rose another watering.
Once the rose has entered its state of dormancy in winter, the rose will only need water once every 4 weeks.
Water in a ‘soak and dry’ cycle, not ‘little and often’
A common mistake when watering indoor roses is to water your rose little and often. Roots love well draining soil so that the roots aren’t kept persistently wet which leads root rot.
A good rule of thumb is that you should water your rose once per week in the spring and summer and really give the soil a generous soak. In most climates and conditions this will be all your rose needs to thrive.
If you water your rose to frequently it will be unhealthy and possibly die of root rot.
Of course you need to have a pot that allows water to drain freely out the bottom and keep check of soil moisture levels in the hottest weather as described in the other steps.
Winter Care for Indoor Roses
When the rose enters its state of dormancy in late fall/early winter. You will only need to water an indoor rose about once per month.
By contrast, outdoor/garden roses generally don’t need watering in winter but indoor potted roses will need the occasional watering to account for the generally dryer atmosphere of a house compared to the outdoors.
You will notice when the rose goes into its dormancy phase as the foliage turns yellow and drops off as a means to protect itself from winter frost and reduce water loss through transpiration.
Start to water your rose once per week again in Spring at the first signs of new growth.
Good Air Circulation (Keep Away From Air Con)
Your rose will appreciate the occasional light airy breeze through an open window that wafts through its leaves and carries the flowers fragrance through the house, as this keeps the foliage dry and reduces the chance of insect pests and disease.
This becomes more important if your rose is in a more humid room such as the kitchen where there can be a build up of steam, so don’t place your rose in areas with excessive condensation.
Too much of a breeze can also be problematic. If the rose is sat in a consistent draught of dry air from an air conditioning unit, radiators or forced air then this will increase the rate of transpiration (water loss) from the leaves and end up dehydrating your rose, even if its cool air.
Keep a happy medium of an occasional breeze through an open door or widow and away from artificial air currents from cooling and heating units and your indoor rose will be happy.
Prune Back your Indoor Rose in Early Spring
The time to prune back your indoor rose is before the plant breaks its winter dormancy.
The same principles of pruning an outdoor rose also apply to indoor miniature roses.
The optimal time for pruning is in the spring just before growth begins when the uppermost buds start to expand slightly but no leaves have yet appeared.
The purpose of pruning is to:
- Remove dead wood and spent, brown canes.
- Remove weaker spindly canes.
- And remove any canes that are crisscrossing and in contact with one another as this can lead to damage and infection.
The upper portion of more mature canes naturally goes brown every year or so as they become ‘exhausted’ and no longer produce flowers. Cutting away this dead wood is essential for stimulating new growth which produce more flowers and it neatens up the appearance of the rose bush.
Weaker spindly growth can be removed as well as criss-crossing canes, which will leave you with only the strongest, healthiest canes, for a healthier, more disease resistant rose.
All cuts to your rose should be clean and done with a sharp pair of pruners (also know as secateurs). Miniature roses are tougher then they look so don’t hold back!
I cut my indoor rose canes back by ½ of their length (and sometimes 1/3 depending on the level of growth).
Make a sloping cut about one centimetre (just under half an inch) above a dormant bud that is facing outwards. This bud is where the new season’s growth will come from.
If you are unsure I recommend you watch this YouTube video for a nice visual guide.
Fertilize for Indoor Roses for More Flowers (and Avoid Bad Smells)
Fertilizing indoor roses is not much different to fertilizing your outdoor roses, however I have a tendency to prefer premade rose feed from miracle grow rather then a lot of organic fertilizes on my indoor roses.
This is because of the simple fact that organic fertilizers are smelly! Fish emulsion, and blood and bone meal will stink the house out so I tend to stick with a premade formula that doesn’t smell offensive.
The reason I love miracle grow rose feed so much is that it has the all the nutrients a rose needs in the correct concentrations with only two applications of granules per year so it takes out all the guess work and could not be easier.
I personally use miracle grow on my indoor roses and they have always been laden with flowers and never troubled with disease.
You need to apply a small handful of granules around the base of the rose and water in. Do this once at the start of spring when there is some growth appeared on the rose and then again in July. That’s all there is to it.
Do not fertilize to early in the season before any growth has appeared or too late in the season (After the 15th of August) as the rose needs time to prepare for its winter dormancy and fertilizer will stimulate new soft growth that can be killed in cooler temperatures.
There is also less natural ecology to the soil (which helps promote soil fertility) in an indoor rose compared to outside, so a good fertilizing regime is essential for the health of the plant.
Deadhead Spent Flowers for Better Blooms
The same principles of dead heading outdoor roses apply to indoor miniature roses.
The purpose of dead heading, is that by removing the spent flowers, the roses bush’s energy is redirect into producing more new shoots from which to bear new flowers rather then producing rose hips (seeds).
With regular deadheading you are promoting more blooms for a better floral display.
Deadhead by cutting with pruners (or sharp scissors) on the spent flowers stem about ¼ of an inch above the first 5 leafed stem.
You may have to cut below other stems with less then 5 leaves which may seem harsh but generally speaking if you cut the stem above say 3 leaves then you may end up with ‘blind wood’ which where no flowers are produced.
For a great visual guide check out this Youtube video: How to deadhead roses…
When to Transplant your Rose to a Bigger Pot
When you start to see roots appearing through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot you need to transfer your rose to a larger pot.
In my experience you only need to repot once every few years with a regularly pruned indoor miniature rose due to their naturally more modest size and their slower growth rate compared to other rose species.
Miniature rose varieties tend to be hardy and will tolerate repotting at any time of year, although it is best to wait for your rose to be in winter dormancy as this will minimize transplant shock.
Multipurpose compost for a nursery or garden center is suitable although you can of course use garden compost as long as the pH is 6-7 (slightly acidic). You can buy a soil test kit to check the pH for a great price on Amazon just to make sure. If the soil is too alkaline (pH 8 or greater) or too acidic (pH 5 or lower) then the rose will not live in this soil.
When repotting to a large pot make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom and that you bury the bud union of the rose (the point where the canes and the roots are connected) is buried below the soil line and water the rose.