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Roses and Grow Lights? Indoor Growing?

Grace Yu
October 31, 2018
Hi guys! I was wondering if anyone had experience with growing full size roses (not the ones that reach huge heights, but ones that can be managed in large 20in pots) indoors or on shady balconies with the assistance of grow lights. I’ve come across one video on YouTube of someone growing their roses successfully with grow lights. Has anyone here ever tried it?

I am sure there is a difference between completely replacing sunlight vs adding some extra rays for the plant to soak up. Im guessing light bulb type will vary depending on what is needed. Wondering if this would be possible in a home-environment.
I’m assuming Dormancy would have to be forced, as well. If anyone has experience, successful, or not, I would love to hear about it! It’ll be an insight as to whether or not full-sun plants can be grown inside.

Comments (15)

  • jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

    My opinion is roses are meant for the great outdoors...lol... Personally I have never tried to grow a rose inside... I Just do not think they would be happy indoors..Even under grow lights...


    Usually when something works well you have lots of people doing/or using it... I never hear much about others growing roses indoors...

  • seil zone 6b MI

    I have tried to grow roses indoors using several methods. To date none of them have ever done very well. Roses are not house plants. They need to be outside in the sun and humidity and rain to be happy. I found that in most cases I could not keep the humidity high enough for them, grow lights made them grow very tall and spindly (as if they were reaching for the light) and even though I watered regularly the soil always seemed dry, like the rose couldn't get enough water. Maybe that was because I couldn't keep the humidity up. Anyways, all my attempts failed and I gave up trying.

  • rifis (zone 6b-7a NJ)

    I wonder if the pros at the “growing under lights” forum would agree that sufficient light for rose success cannot be provided artificially.

    And concerning humidity: how do outdoor growers in the arid desert achieve success w/roses?

    Grace: consider posting this on the “growing under lights” forum too.

  • BenT (8a Dallas, TX)

    Agree with Seil - lack of humidity might be the biggest problem for roses indoors. The times I’ve tried it , their leaves dry up and they are not happy.

    I’m guessing desert and mediterrainian climates (which roses love) are still much more humid that the average house. You still see dew in the morning on roses in most such places.

  • mad_gallica

    For years I overwintered roses under lights in the basement. The basement was cool and damp. The lights were regular fluorescents.

  • jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

    If people on the “growing under lights” forum ACTUALLY grow roses indoors full-time successfully year after year and continue to do so I might change my opinion... But I'm not listening to anyone's opinion that actually isn't doing it full-time and successfully year after year indoors...


    If I ever have to overwinter a pot again I'll try my basement as MAD stated...That I believe can work...But growing roses full-time indoors...Still sticking to my opinion...lol

  • seil zone 6b MI

    The closest and best result I ever had was in the basement under lights. The rose was a baggy rose that some idiot thought they could sell in January in Michigan, ha! They had just come into the store and were still fresh and green. I knew they would never last in the store until it was time to plant here so I rescued a few. I brought them home and potted them up and put them in my basement under the grow lights I use to start my seeds with. They leafed out almost right away and I thought they were doing great. However, slowly they all seemed to go downhill and by the time I could get them outside near the end of March they were pitiful looking. They never really recovered and not one of them made it through their first winter.

  • vaporvac

    Seil, if the soil was "diggable" I would try just planting them out dormant straight from the bag. Even if they were breaking dormancy, I bet they would go back into it and grow normally once the soil warmed up. I transplant my roses very early while it's still basically winter and have had no losses, but that is with established plants.

    I am keeping the small roses I've grown from cuttings in a very cool, well lit room with only a florescent bulb for additional lighting, where they remain in a state of suspended animation until the days increase. Then they slowly grow. I've done this with roses and other plants for three winters now. The soil needs to be very light and they need little water or the roots get too cold and soggy and then rot. I had that happen to a couple I shuttled outside. Now I only do that with larger roses with more developed roots systems. I suppose I could try to force the little ones into dormancy, but they do grow quite a bit by springtime. I don't think one could ever grow roses as houseplants without a real greenhouse.

  • seil zone 6b MI

    vaporvac, no ground is diggable in Michigan in January. You can't sink a shovel anywhere in my yard until well into march. And that early you have nothing but a big mud pool at that. The soil needs to thaw completely and then have some time to drain a little before you can work it.

  • vaporvac

    Oh well. It was worth a shot. : ( It might work for someone. I have been digging my holes in fall and just filling with leaves, but I don't have anymore cleared bed to do that.

  • noseometer...(7A, SZ10, Albuquerque)

    Is it possible to grow roses indoors? I'd say yes, with some major caveats. It won't be cheap and it won't be easy. I grow orchids, and I start rose cuttings with my orchids in orchidarium, which is indoors. I've grown those cuttings on, to some degree. The first hurdle is to provide enough light. When I mean enough light, I mean more light than even high-light cattleya orchids require. Keeping in mind that direct sunlight is 10,000 ft-candles, to grow a rose, you'd need to produce (my guess) at least 5-6,000 ft candles of light. This would be about 2 feet away from a 1,000 watt halogen bulb, which is about the size of a street lamp halogen. The new LED lights may be able to provide it at a lower energy cost. I tried one a few years ago, and it was a bunch of hype that didn’t work to grow even my low light orchids, but technology has improved since then. Okay, so this is roughly equivalent to shaded outdoor area, which as we know is enough to grow a rose (sort-of), but not enough to for it to bloom well. So you’d need to double that. I’ll let you figure out how much in your area that would be for electricity, because you’d want to run the lights at least 10 hours a day. Another thing to keep in mind is that the grow lights are of specific spectrum, so if you want normal colors you’d have to choose full spectrum lights. (Aside: this would include UV, which we know is part of tanning and promotes skin cancer and can damage the eyes, so you’d want to wear sunglasses and sunscreen, just as if you were gardening outdoors.) Then there is the issue of heat. The lights would generate heat, and the fans that are in many units help with that, which also would raise the temperature of the room. You might need some air conditioning in the room in the summer, or leave a window open in the winter, although you’d have to be careful not to let it get too cold at night. Having the days bright and warmer, and cooler and dark at night is good for orchids, I’m not sure if that is needed for roses. My roses seem to do best at temperatures lower, especially at night, than I typically keep my house and warmer during the day, like 50-60 F at night and 80F in the day. If you didn't want to induce dormancy, then you'd be best growing roses like Tea roses, which can grow in tropical areas.


    Something I’ve learned from growing cuttings indoors is that roses, like orchids, need air movement. Without it, too much light will burn the leaves, but perhaps most importantly they will be very prone to fungal diseases like mildew. So you’d want another fan to keep the air moving over the leaves.


    For a full size rose, you’d also need the space, and enough light units to cover the area of growth.


    Basically, you are trying to duplicate the conditions that the roses like, i.e. recreating the outdoors, but indoors. This would mean an appropriately sized room with full sun conditions, and air movement, enough root room (i.e. at least a 20 gallon container), certain humidity, watering and fertilizer. It’s doable, as you can see from greenhouse grown florist roses. You’d just have to have the space, energy and finances to create such a place.

  • Grace Yu
    Thank you everyone for this awesome discussion! This makes me appreciate nature’s intricate designs and systems so much more. Imitating the environment for the rose to grow, like noseometer said, sounds very expensive. As a hobby gardener, I’d probably be better off just growing it outside. I definitely thought it would be an interesting topic to ask about. I’ve also learned quite a bit from everyone who talked about different types of grow lights.

    It’d be interesting to see if any advancements in the future will eventually let us control the humidity level, light level, etc in an enclosed space. Be it the house, or one room in a house. Only when those features become more common and affordable would I be able to attempt growing a demanding plant like a rose indoors. A big ol green house w big windows seem like the more modern possibility for now :)
  • summersrhythm_z6a

    I have been doing the same thing as Mad to overwinter tender potted roses in the basement for many years in zone 6a, lost a few baby bands. Most of my potted roses overwinter in the garage. This year at the country house in zone 5b, I am going to move 23 potted rose trees that on the 2nd floor decking inside, they are too heavy to move them downstairs to the garage. They will be in an in-law apt that has its own heating system, I won’t turn the heat high, it gets heat from main part of house underneath and through an open door on the 2nd floor. It’s normally around 50F in the In-law apt. It should work for those rose trees.

  • jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

    I have the perfect basement conditions for over wintering potted plants but never really realized it...lol... something to try in the future...





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