Roses forum→Please help me do the impossible!

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Gracierocket
May 8, 2020 3:38 PM CST
Hello rose enthusiasts!

I am really hoping someone can help me. I am attempting to grow miniature roses indoors on a second floor south facing windowsill in Scotland, UK. Also, I have absolutely no idea about gardening because I've never had a garden (and I don't have one now). I realise this is famously near-impossible, but I love roses very much, and since it's highly unlikely I'll ever have a garden, I want to at least make the attempt.

The story so far: I bought 3 miniature potted roses from a rose-specialist nursery and was given one more by a friend. They are: Flower Power Gold, Sweet Magic and Wild Fire. I have no idea what the one from my friend is. I read several guides online, and when they arrived I repotted them all into pots 18cm deep x 18.5cm diameter, using potting compost with added John Innes. I cleared off as much of the original soil as I could but tried not to damage the roots. I also added a couple of small handfuls of rose food to each pot. I put bits of broken crockery in the bottom of the pots. Then I watered them until the water came out of the bottom, made sure it had all drained away, and put them in the windowsill. That was 4 days ago and I've watered them 3 out of 4 days since.

They are not doing well so far. The Flower Power seems to be coping OK (it was the biggest and already had well developed buds). The Sweet Magic (second biggest) is surviving but today most of the leaves have gone yellow. The mystery rose seems OK. The Wild Fire is, I think, dying. I think it must have been quite a new cutting to start with because it was mostly a bare branch with only a scattering of leaves. About half of those leaves curled up and dried out on the first day and it doesn't seem any better now. It is also possibly struggling because I couldn't manage to get all its roots under the soil. The pot is the same height as the one it came in, but I have no idea how they managed to shove it in there so deep. I couldn't.

I have ordered glazed ceramic pots for them, and some greenhouse shading to pin to the window, because I've heard that they struggle if their roots get too hot. But I don't know what else I can do. I don't even know how much to water them. I've read that you stick a finger in an inch and if the soil is dry, you water. But I've also read that potted roses should be watered every day for the first two weeks. And how much water do they need at each watering? How do I know when it's enough? The poor things are suffering from their environment but also from my inexperience.

I really hope someone can help me!
Coastal Southern California (Zone 13a)
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jerijen
May 8, 2020 5:22 PM CST
You know, I don't know what sort of "rose food" you added handfuls of, but over-fertilizing may be one of the problems you're having. (I HAVE killed a rose that way, so I know it can be done. Some of us just have to learn by making our own mistakes.)

I would wait until the plants are settled in and growing, and not looking stressed before "feeding" them.

Also, I fear you may be over-watering.

Roses, ideally, flourish with a good drink of water, followed by an opportunity to partially dry out. If you're watering that regularly, they may be sitting there soggy. Are your pots in "saucers"? If so, you can almost guarantee that. I don't know who told you to water them daily, but that wasn't good advice.

I'm a little unsure on your pot sizes, but if you couldn't manage to get all of the roots under the soil, your pots are probably too small. And if you are worried about heat, I would use a pot-in-pot. Not ceramic, ideally. Plastic. AT LEAST the inner pot should be plastic.

I killed my first Minis by planting them in a 6-inch-deep "window box." (That was my FIRST mistake!)

No one told me that although the FLOWERS are small, many miniatures are large plants indeed!

It was only much later that I realized that the 'Jean Kenneally' I'd put in that box could be planted in the ground and grow 6-ft. tall. Did the descriptive material on the roses you bought describe their eventual plant size?

To really flourish, they should be potted up when the roots are showing through the bottom, until you have, well, the largest pot you can accommodate.

Good luck. Growing roses entirely indoors as you want to do isn't easy.



Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
May 8, 2020 5:49 PM CST
Welcome to the rose board!

Yes, you are correct. It will be very, very difficult to grow roses indoors. How much sun each day do your roses get? How many hours? You stated you were upstairs and had a south facing window sill. Are there other buildings that might be blocking the sun during the day? Trees blocking the sun, etc.?

For those of us who, unfortunately had to revert back to inches rather than stay with centimetres, it sounds like your pots are seven inches deep and a little over seven inches in diameter. Those are going to be too small for your roses. That seems to likely be the case now, since you had to shove one of the roses in a pot and the roots are exposed (roses don't like that).

Roses like to have deeper root depth and bigger pots. Your Sweet Magic is a mini floribunda and the mature size of that rose will be 35--75 cm. Too big for the size of the pot it is in. I understand that it is a baby rose right now, however, eventually, you will need to re-pot it into something bigger (probably three times the size you have now). The Flower Power Gold will grow to be about 45 cm and it will still need to be re-potted down the road. Sorry, but I could not find any information on the rose Wild Fire.

Your compost (aka potting mix to us in the US) is fine for these roses, if you used one for indoor plants (since the plants are going to be grown indoors). It is my understanding that the "added John Innes" really doesn't make a difference since the formula is different for each type of compost. What added fertilizer did you use? Organic, granules, liquid? After re-potting the roses and having them now living indoors, I probably wouldn't have fertilized them as it might do more harm than good until the roses get established. It sounds like you may have over fertilized them. Also, fresh potting compost usually has some fertilizer in it that should be good for a couple of months, until the plants get established.

It also sounds like you are over watering. as evidenced by the yellowing leaves. Although the yellowing leaves could also be from having grown outside and now being indoors and not liking its new environment. Those watering instructions are for plants that are outside. If you have been watering them daily, you are over watering them. When you will need to water will depend on the plant, the size of the container, etc.

So, you may inadvertently be killing your plants with kindness and love. Roses do not like to be grown indoors. It is not something I would recommend. However, if you wanted to try, I would use bigger pots and get a good grow light where the time of light can be regulated. I would re-pot them into bigger pots, use a good indoor plant compost and hold off on the fertilizer until the plant gets established. Even if you do this, the chances of success are pretty iffy. However, I do hope that you will continue to report back and please prove me wrong! I would love for you to have happy and healthy roses grown indoors.
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
May 8, 2020 5:51 PM CST
Ah, it looks like Jeri beat me to the post--had things I had to do before I posted. Jeri gives some of the best advice going! I would follow it!

Gracierocket
May 10, 2020 1:06 AM CST
Thank you both so much for the advice! I do understand that even if I get everything right, my chances of making this work are low, but I still want to try it.

To answer your questions: the South facing window is not blocked by anything (streets are wide here) so we get direct sun most of the day.

I used a granular rose specific fertiliser and just followed the instructions on the back of the box which said to put one or two handfuls in for a new potting.

And yes, my pots are roughly 7x7 inches.

So, these are the changes I intend to make based on your suggestions:

1. Let the top inch of soil dry out completely before watering, even when they have just been re-potted.

2. Don't add fertiliser until the plants are well established.

3. Repot them into bigger pots using houseplant potting compost.

I have a few more questions!

1. How big should the new pots be? I know they should be as big as possible but there is a limited amount of space on the windowsill so what is the minimum you think might be enough?

2. When I water them, how do I know how much to give them?

3. I will repot them into plastic pots with drainage holes. Do you think it would be a good idea to double pot them into glazed ceramic pots to try to keep the roots cool? Or should I just rely on the greenhouse shading?

Thank you so much, again! xxx
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
May 10, 2020 4:04 AM CST
Oh, your planters don't have drainage holes? Yes, they are drowning, so please repot them as soon as possible. Water them in their new pots until the water runs through. If you can do this in your sink until they stop draining, so much the better.

I would put the plants on a table or stand or something next to the window and not on the sill. That way, you can have bigger pots and you don't have to worry about the hot window hitting the leaves, etc. These plants are going to want to get big. Plants should not be next to the glass or hitting the glass. Start off with a 1.5 gallon pot (around 5.67 liters) and go up in size from there in about six months or so. My potted roses (yes, even mini roses) are in several gallon containers (they are all outside and not indoors). The only thing mini about a mini rose is usually the flower size unless you grow micro mini roses.

Again, the instructions for the fertilizer are for a plant in the ground and not in a pot. I would hold off on the fertilizer until the plants start to survive and thrive (at least a couple of months).
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bulbs Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals
Garden Photography Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Foliage Fan Bee Lover Region: United Kingdom I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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kniphofia
May 10, 2020 4:38 AM CST
I'm in Northumberland and agree that it is nigh on impossible to grow roses indoors.
If you want mini roses then I would just buy them from a garden centre or supermarket and enjoy them on your windowsill for a couple of months then replace them.
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
May 10, 2020 8:37 AM CST
Gracie, if you decide you want to do what Sue suggested, after the flowers are gone, give the plant away to someone with a yard. My grocery store "saved" roses are some of the healthiest roses I grow. They are great for tucking into a spot in my yard, here and there. They do get big, however. Most of mine have been in the ground for a little over a year and are a good 2--3 feet tall and wide. Of course, that would depend on the particular variety, but they are great little roses nonetheless.
SW Ohio River Valley (Zone 6b)
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vaporvac
May 10, 2020 11:20 AM CST
Two questions: what is the purpose of the shade cloth? If it's for the windows, roses need as much light as possible which is already greatly reduced just by being indoors.
Why did you remove all the dirt from the roses rather than plant them as is into the new soil? This in itself could have broken and disturbed the roots enough that they are now undergoing severe transplant shock just from that. Of course, there may be reasons to do it, but it's iffy and can set a plant back.
It can't hurt to double pot the roses, especially if you want a more decorative look.

Gracierocket
May 10, 2020 5:10 PM CST
Hi all,

Thanks again for your thoughts.

Mustbnuts: My roses are currently in pots with drainage holes - don't worry! I'm pretty sure you're right and I've been over watering them but they're not actually sitting in a swamp. I just meant the new ones will have drainage holes too.

Sue: Yes, you're probably right, but I feel I have to give it a go.

Vaporvac: I have read that indoor roses sometimes suffer because their roots get too hot in the windowsill. My thinking was that I could put up shading over the very bottom of the window to just give the pots a bit of shade but leave the plants exposed to the sun. I thought it might serve the same purpose as putting the plastic pots inside glazed ceramic pots to keep the heat out.
What do you reckon?

I pulled as much mud as possible off because I thought that was what you were supposed to do! I take it that's wrong?

Update: I've ordered some 11 litre pots and more potting compost. When they arrive, I'll repot the roses and follow your advice on watering and fertilizing.

One problem: the only pots I could find are black. What would you recommend I do to slow down the soil heating up? I could just paint them white?

Oh, incidentally, Flower Power opened its first bud today, and I can see a bit of colour in the Sweet Magic buds too, so I'm hoping this means they're not *too* miserable??
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
Charter ATP Member Bulbs Bookworm Amaryllis Houseplants Annuals
Garden Photography Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Foliage Fan Bee Lover Region: United Kingdom I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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kniphofia
May 10, 2020 9:56 PM CST
Your black pots will be fine. Believe me in Scotland your soil is never going to heat up too much. I have pots on a south facing windowsill, not with roses in admittedly but still.

Gracierocket
Jul 1, 2020 4:39 AM CST
Hi all!

As requested, this is an update on my indoor roses. I've had them two months now. The Wildfire died. I did think it might be all right because it got some new leaves and even a large bud, but then one day everything just dried out suddenly and it died. I have no idea why because I treated it the same as the others. Maybe certain roses are particularly unhappy indoors?

The other three are, so far, doing well I think? The baby (on the left) is just opening its first flower, and the other two are both on their second round of flowers since I got them. How do they look to you rose experts? Do you have any recommendations for how I should proceed?

In case anyone is interested, this is what I do:

- Water when the soil is dry an inch down (just under once a week I think). A litre for the bigger two, half a litre for the smaller.

- Put them on a tray of pebbles and put water in the tray (making sure it doesn't reach the bottom of the pot) to create a humid zone.

- spray a tissue with weak washing up liquid and water solution and go on an aphid assassination rampage every couple of days.

- Spray them with weak washing up liquid solution after de-aphid-ing.

- Put up greenhouse shading down low so it doesn't shade the plants, but does shade the pots.

- deadhead spent roses, cut off any yellow leaves etc. Every couple of days.

Any thoughts or advice gratefully received! And thanks again for all your help so far. Even if they all die tomorrow, I've had two lovely months of roses!

Thumb of 2020-07-01/Gracierocket/413277


Thumb of 2020-07-01/Gracierocket/5ef45f

Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
A Darwinian gardener
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JBarstool
Jul 1, 2020 6:19 AM CST
I start by saying I admire your tenacity - and am surprised the roses are doing as well as they appear to be doing. Oh, and yellow roses are the best.
That said, you earlier asked: "Maybe certain roses are particularly unhappy indoors?" I would answer with, yes - all those that are still alive.
But, if you are determined (and it certainly seems you are) the advice you've been given is good. My only worry in your described regimen of caring for the plants has to do with spraying them with diluted washing up liquid. I wouldn't do that unless you had an infestation (and then I would still want to use a proprietary mild insecticidal soap), certainly not as a preventative.
Last comment...now is the time to start thinking about what you are going to do about low light levels come winter.
I find myself most amusing.

Gracierocket
Jul 1, 2020 7:06 AM CST
Hi JBarstool, thanks for your thoughts!

I am indeed determined! Have a look at the view beyond the roses in the photos I shared and you'll see why!

I don't know how many aphids count as an infestation, but I would say I find about 30 every two days across all my roses. I am loathe to use anything toxic because I have an inquisitive toddler in the flat. I do have an eco friendly rose specific insecticide but the one time I used it, it didn't seem any more effective than washing up liquid. What do you think?

Regarding the winter: there is a space in the stairwell outside our flat by a large north-facing window. The stairwell is unheated but indoors so probably won't drop below zero (celsius) in winter. North-facing in a Scottish winter won't get much light at all. How does that sound??
Port d'Envaux, France (Zone 9a)
A Darwinian gardener
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JBarstool
Jul 1, 2020 7:17 AM CST

Yes, I am loathe to use toxic products; which is why mild insecticidal soap is a good choice. I worry any time products are used for 'off-label' use - who determined what level of dilution is adequate for rose leaves, etc.? But, if you are already wiping the aphids off regularly I am not sure you need anything more than that mechanical control. So, why spray anything?
Prices for good efficient LED plant lights have dropped dramatically...leaving them in your window with supplemental light might be a good choice.
Have fun and bon courage.
I find myself most amusing.

Gracierocket
Jul 11, 2020 2:01 AM CST
Hi again!

Well, the problem with purely mechanical control is that if I go on holiday I'll come back to swarms of aphids. I was hoping to find a less labour intensive option.

Regarding lighting, my understanding was that roses need to overwinter somewhere colder with less light so they go into a dormant phase for a couple of months? Have I got that wrong?

I also have another question! How do you know when a rose plant is ready to be fertilised, and are there any vegetarian fertilisers that will work? I keep being recommended fish emulsion...

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