Terminology: dwarf vs miniature

Can anybody explain to me what the difference is between roses that are considered dwarf as opposed to those considered miniature?

George I don’t know that roses have a classification of Dwarf. If there is then Miniature would be the size of the flower and dwarf would be the size of the plant. Just my opinion.


To me, dwarf suggests that there is a “regular” sized rose as well, one with similar bloom and foliage, but of a different size.

A hundred years ago, “dwarf” had a different meaning. It refered to the height of the graft above the ground because certain cultivars were believed to grow better as dwarfs than as standards which were grafted much farther from the ground.

For me, the terms are almost synonymous, but with some subtle difference: I think of dwarf as a verb; something the genes do to a plant, but I think of miniature as the term used to describe its stature. Still, a miniature rose is still a dwarf rose in the literal sense.

I was under the impression that miniature implied something about the lack of height and the small size of blooms and leaves while dwarf referred only to lack of height.


May I ask, is there a conventional maximum height beyond which a rose cannot be classed as a “miniature rose”?

lol, pardon my ignorance.

…what about climbing miniatures…is there a height restriction defining that group of roses?

Ive always noticed that a lot of the microminis are the result of mini x dwarf.

I always thought Miniature did not refer to the shurb size but the flower size as I stated in my previous answer.


Some say stature is defining for miniature rose, others not, here. It is very confusing to be sure!

The ARS has a clear definition for what is “miniature” in roses, but I’m not certain what their definition is. (I’d have to look it up) A miniature rose is a plant with blooms under a certain size, and whose plant is under a certain size also. I think this definition also includes some condition that the plant has to have a certain overall quality that defines “miniature”. Plants that were once classed as miniatures are now redefined as “minifloras” because the plant size exceeds the stated parameters for miniature.

As I said in a previous note, dwarfism is something that happens to a plant, but we don’t generally refer to roses as “dwarf”, choosing “miniature” instead to define stature and habit. “Dwarf” is a characteristic some small roses (like Polyanthas) exhibit, where “miniature” is a clearly defined class as recognized globally.

It’s a misconception to think that any horticultural classification is hard and fast. At the outer edges of every classification, all definitions fall apart, as classes meld into one another.

Some very large roses have sported (or are presumed to have sported) dwarfs. The two that come to mind immediately are Happenstance, the dwarf Mermaid, and Little White Pet, thought to be a dwarf of F

This is the answer I got when I inquired about this to the ARS.

"Miniature indicates the size of the flower, not the plant. I’ve seen miniature plants get quite large. Climate has a lot to do with plant size but doesn’t affect flower size much.

There are a few rose types such as Polyanthas that produce miniature size flowers. These are usually in clusters and are not miniatures.

Polyanthas are often found in the parentage of miniatures.

A newer classification is Miniflora. It fills the void between miniatures and Floribunda size flowers. For years many hybridizers were tossing good roses that were too large to be classed as miniatures but too small to be classed as floribundas.

Minifloras often grow on plants the same size as a miniature plant.

While an occasional flower on a miniature plant will be larger or smaller than the norm, overall the flowers will miniature size.

Real Men Grow Roses,

Never enough Roses,

Take time to STOP and smell the Roses,

and Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Karl Bapst (Rosenut)

ARS Master Rosarian."



Interesting, OK, I propose the classification be changed on Perennial Blue, pink, blush, white, Purple Skyline and the Super new repeat ramblers to Climbing Miniature! They all have flower sizes which qualify for miniature status and that classification does not require the plant comform to a particular size. Perhaps, they might sell more as minis than they will as ramblers or climbers?

lol… in commerce here, any plant marketed as “dwarf” (usually as a result of grafting scion onto dwarfing rootstock, like in apple varieties), is a BIG sales draw card.

I don’t think miniature roses actually ever sold much here. Maybe if they were re-marketed as “dwarf roses” they would sell like hotcakes…lol.


That answer you were given is very confusing to me.

On the one hand the respondent stated that “…Miniature indicates the size of the flower, not the plant”… then later he/she goes on to contradict this, by stating …“Minifloras often grow on plants the same size as a miniature plant”…in which case he/she is also using the stature of the plant to define the miniature condition.

He/she can’t have it both ways, see what I mean?

Yes he did say that and I ASSUME that he also knows that most miniature plants are smaller that other rose classes but still miniature refers to the size of the flower. What he was getting at was that we had some smaller plants(Miniature plants) with bigger flowers than minatures and needed to reclassify these and thus appeared the mini-floras. Now I’m confused.LOL. Not really.