Valentine's Day flower bouquets may start to wilt by now, but you're lucky if your sweetie gave you a potted miniature rosebush instead.
With a little care upfront, you can enjoy those tiny blossoms for many years.
"They're not as tricky as they sound," assures Elena "Lani" Lee, a florist with Mayfield Florist.
A gift-container rose is one of two types of plants.
A pot may contain a very young bush that eventually will grow with regular-sized flowers, says Sandy Sarah, owner of Magic Garden Nursery & Landscape.
Or the container may hold a true miniature-rose plant that will mature into a small bush with small blooms, Lee says.
In either case, they don't do well indoors, but they love full sunlight and are hardy in heat and cold.
First they need to slowly get used to growing outdoors.
"They were pushed in a greenhouse to be in bloom on Valentine's Day," Sarah says. "They have to adjust to coming out of that greenhouse, then have to adjust to being in something larger."
Both women suggest this strategy for moving them outside:
• You can continue to enjoy your gift indoors for a little while. Put the container in a sunny spot in the house, but not in direct sunlight that could burn the plant.
• Water once or twice a week to keep the soil consistently moist. Take off the foil wrapping so that water doesn't pool at the bottom. Drain any water runoff remaining in a saucer under the pot after 15 minutes.
• When flowers start to die off in about two weeks, cut the blooms off and move the plant onto a patio or under a tree so that it gets some shade. This helps the plant get used to full sun. Continue to water regularly.
At this point, you can repot the plant into a container that's slightly larger. Use good potting soil. If you plan to put the plant in the ground, you can keep it in its original container until then.
• After about a month, you can move the plant into full sun, either in a container or in the ground.
If you plant the bush in the ground, wait another month before fertilizing. You don't have to wait with potted plants.
Now that it's acclimated to the outdoors, treat the rose plant as you would treat other roses: Water regularly and consistently, fertilize monthly during growing season and prune on schedule.
True miniature rosebushes do not need drastic pruning as larger plants do. Lee says you can just cut it to the size and shape you want.
Did You know
While container miniature roses are sold as Valentine gifts, they're a bigger sell for Mother's Day, Lee says. Men tend to go for the "big bang" that a rose bouquet provides for Valentine's Day, she says.
Contact Tucson freelance writer Elena Acoba at firstname.lastname@example.org