Rose experts advise, please!
March 8, 2018 7:36 AM   Subscribe

My husband gave me a mini rose bush for Valentine's Day instead of cut flowers. How can I keep it alive until it can be planted outside (without buying a grow light or something)? It's not doing well indoors at all, and while I don't have a green thumb, googling leads me to believe that it's impossible for a rose to thrive under regular indoor lighting, even on a window sill. What's my best option?

-I can just keep watering it and hope it revives when I can get it outside in April or May.

-I can put it in the basement, where the temp is in the 50s and it's dark and hope it goes dormant.

-I can put it in the garage where the temperature usually only gets to the 30s at coldest.

-I can put it outside, where winter is still pretty brutal, but it would get full regular light.

-With any of these options, would it help to cut it down? How much watering would it need?

-Call it a lost cause and toss it like I would have tossed cut flowers?
posted by Kriesa to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
If it makes you feel better, in my experience, those mini bushes often don't survive even when you do have a green thumb. They're grown in highly controlled environments to get maximum pretty blooms before being sent out on a harrowing shipping journey that gives them a good shock. They land in your home, but are quite stressed by then and can't often be revived. They also tend to get overwatered and the decorative plastic jacket over the pot drowns them because it won't drain. You could repot it into something like teracotta that will breathe and put it in your brightest window. If it's got dying branches, cut them back. But, if it does succumb, it was likely the cummulative effects of a stressful journey. If you want to try this option of a living flower again, orchids tend to do better overall than roses with the journey from grower to your home.
posted by quince at 7:53 AM on March 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Transplant it to a larger pot and supplement its light somehow. I've kept many of those mini rosebushes alive on an outside deck by transplanting them immediately to something bigger.
posted by annathea at 7:56 AM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

It’s not going to go dormant for only a little while, putting it in even dimmer lightt conditions will likely kill it.

Your best bet is to repot it and give it as much light as possible. It’ll likely limp along until April when you’ll be able to put it outside, in all likelihood. It might not do well outside either, though, those miniature roses are terribly frail and finicky even under ideal conditions.
posted by lydhre at 8:04 AM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know you said without buying a grow light, but I had some success with some kitchen herbs in a very dim kitchen with a ~$10 grow light bulb in a regular desk lamp. I've never yet managed to keep a miniature rose alive, period, so I'm not sure that'll fix everything, just not sure if you're aware that they don't have to be terribly expensive.
posted by Sequence at 8:34 AM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know nothing about roses specifically, but agreed with Sequence. I use shop lights in my kitchen to keep the herbs I bring in from outside every fall. I also bought a blueberry bush in January and managed to keep it alive (not happy, but alive) until April when I could plant it with a fluorescent bulb. I'd use a fluorescent because you get the most light bang for your buck. You can also go the led route, but those are so bright they can burn plant leaves. Make sure you keep a bulb like that about a foot or two away from you rose bush.
posted by Bistyfrass at 9:32 AM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Any fluorescent light is a grow light. Is there a fluorescent light anywhere in your house? Put it under that, even if you have to put it on top of a step ladder on your counter when you leave for work in the morning, and move it down to the counter when you get home.

Consider using a desk lamp with a fluorescent light bulb in it, on an extension cord to increase the light it gets.

Did you clip off the flower heads? Many plants thrive much better if the flowers are clipped off, as they don't have to go to the stress of supporting them and can work on supporting only their green foliage. Don't forget to rotate the plant so that it gets the sun on all sides so that the side not near the ight won't just die.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:04 PM on March 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

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