The gray days of winter are upon us. Grays and browns overwhelm the landscape at this time of year, but if you are willing to do a little extra work you can bring some spring into your home. The rose, our most enduring symbol of love and beauty, can be grown indoors.
Miniature roses are dwarf versions of roses, including the classic hybrid tea, but they only grow 12 to 15 inches at most. They are pretty and tough, and can be grown indoors and even outdoors in Kansas if you mulch them.
If you choose to grow them indoors there are some specific needs:
- Moist air, at 50 percent to 60 percent humidity, which can be produced by putting the flower pot on a tray that holds moist pebbles.
- Lots of sun. Put your roses in a south-facing window. Some people put the plants under fluorescent lamps (wide spectrum bulbs are needed). Place the lights 3 to 4 inches above the plants and use a timer to ensure the plants get 14 hours of light each day.
- Protection from the dreaded spider mite. These pests can devastate a rose plant. Providing adequate humidity and washing the plants once a week in tepid water should help keep the mites away. If you do have to use an insecticide, make sure it is for spider mites. Several applications will be needed because the insecticide doesn't work on the mite eggs -- only on the adult mites.
Miniature roses can be summered outside, but don't put the plant in full sun immediately because it can get sunburned, just like us. Gradually transition the plant to increasing light during several weeks.
Pots sunk in the ground won't need as much water as those exposed, and be sure to turn the pot 180 degrees every couple of weeks to break off any roots that escape the pot and move into the underlying soil. Your plants should thrive during the summer and be ready for another winter indoors.
It's not easy to fight the gloom of winter but if you are willing to put forth the effort, miniature roses are a beautiful and enjoyable way to do it.
-- The Garden Calendar is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County office and written this week by Bill Padgett, master gardener. For more information call the extension office, 843-7058, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.