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For centuries, Europeans had to make do with roses that bloomed only once in early summer. But the Tea and China Roses, originating in mild regions of southern China, began trickling into the western world in the late 1700's. And by 1811 the first China Rose, 'Old Blush', had crossed with the spicily-scented, fall flowering species rose 'Rosa moschata', with one seedling, 'Champney's Pink Cluster' becoming the founding member of the Noisette class of repeat-blooming roses. The Victorians treasured them all as priceless glasshouse exotics, and soon they thrived outdoors in mild regions like southern France and later, Florida and southern California.
With their subtropical heritage and built in genetic urge to bloom all year long if kept warm, the Tea and China and Noisette Roses make perfect potted patio plants in summer and window sill houseplants in winter. Yes, you can grow fresh roses indoors each winter!
Choose a variety grown on its "own roots", leave it in the pot you bought it in for one year so the root system can mature, and give it a sunny spot on your patio or deck. Feed it monthly with a pinch of Epsom salts and 1 tablespoon of fish emulsion dissolved in ½ gallon water from May through August. If aphids appear blast them off with a garden hose and remember, these roses bloom more the more you cut fresh blooms and/or deadhead spent blooms. Feel free to lower the commercial growing pot into a decorative pot of your choice.
Before the first frost, cut each rose back hard (50%), give it another feeding of fish emulsion and Epsom salts, and bring it indoors to grow in your warmest brightest south window, though a bright west window will do. The pruning and feeding plus the warmth of indoors will trigger abundant new growth bearing fragrant roses all winter long. If aphids appear just blast them off with warm water from your shower head. Expect some leaf drop as indoor light levels and dry household air can't match the ideal conditions of outdoor culture.
When frost danger has passed each May, repeat the 50% cutback and feeding and set them back on your deck for another summer of growing living treasures now approaching 200 years in age, and that will likely outlive all of us.
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