Winter rose care is crucial to the protection of your rose bed. In cold climates this is even more important, but whatever the weather, roses need a period of dormancy.
Draw up a winter rose care plan.
If you live in an area of extremely cold winters, perhaps down to minus 20 degrees, your choice of rose bush is crucial and your coverage of the plants during this time becomes a matter of life and death.
Winter rose gardening is not easy in these extreme temperatures but many are successful. The plans you make for your winter rose care, in these conditions is very important.
Draw up a simple winter rose care plan and your rose beds will thank you for it!
Rose Gardening- How To Take Care During Winter
While winter is the season of hibernation and dormancy for your roses, it can spell disaster, if you let it face the season with out taking any precaution.
The tougher varieties like old garden roses and own-root types normally survive through the bitter cold, but the more delicate varieties like hybrid teas and budded roses can wither easily, if left unprotected.
Preparation process for your rose bush, begins right at the time of selecting the roses for plantation. While browsing the net or printed catalogs, or even admiring the roses on display at your local garden store, be careful to choose only those types which are tough to glide through the harshness of winter, typical of the area in which you live in. consult the “hardiness zone maps”, if necessary before you make that final selection.
The key to making your roses make it through the harsh winter is to deliberately make them hibernate or push them into dormancy. You can achieve this by stopping any fertilizing activity by mid August, ceasing all dead heading and pruning activities by the beginning of October. You must let hip formation to further ensure dormancy.
Be certain to keep your plants in a frozen condition, if you live in very cold areas. Prevent the freeze/thaw/freeze cycles to happen repeatedly. To ensure this, never put any early covers on your plants. Bide your time till the first hard frost hits and the leaves start falling. Remove all fallen leaves, diseased leaves and other debris from around your rose bush at this time, as these insects and fungi hibernate during winter and return to damage during spring.
Prune and trim the taller roses, before you put on any winter covering. Do not prune these too thoroughly, as you will have to prune again to remove dead and disease-infected canes in spring. You can tie the canes together – this will protect them from the cold and gusty winter winds.
One of the very popular and easy methods to protect your rose bush during winter months is called “hilling“. This method involves piling a lot of moisture-free loose soil or compost around your rose bush. This piling should be around 10 to 12 inches in depth. This is a very good covering for the plants, provided it is dry.
You should cover the mound with hay, leaves or evergreen branches, once it has frozen completely.
With this type of dry covering, with moisture-free soil or compost, your rose bushes have the winter protection that they need so badly to survive.
After your have successfully put your rose garden to rest for the winter, take some time off to sharpen your garden maintenance tools, so that you can start afresh in spring.
Winter is the time for short days and long nights. As you sit and warm your heels by the fire side, browse through the websites and printed catalogues to order for next year’s roses.
A Winter Rose – How To Prepare Your Roses For Winter
How to prepare any rose for winter always depends on temperature. In general, if in your area during winter the temperature drops to minus 10 degrees F or lower then any rose bush will need some protection.
Note: If you live in an area that has a mild winter then most of the following will not apply. However, the advice on fertilizing and watering in general does. (In mild winter areas a rose never really goes dormant although it does require a season of rest).
Whether you have a hybrid tea, floribunda, tree rose, miniature or climber the goal is always the same… To protect the crown and roots of the plant from the worst of the winter cold and possible mid-winter thaws and re-freezings.
In the case of climbing roses and tree roses you will also need to protect the upper parts (long canes for climbers and top flowering crown for rose standards) as well.
Preparing a rose for winter will always start in spring ( yes, I did mean spring). Any rose that has had a long and well tended growing season will be better able to tolerate the worst any winter has to offer.
Throughout the growing season be sure to water a rose deeply (allow the soil to dry to a depth of 2 inches or so before watering again, the root system needs air too) and fertilize regularly which will encourage a deep and healthy root system as well as healthy canes and flowers.
Roses store nutrients in their woody canes and so the bigger the plant the healthier it will be. Maintain a routine of pest and disease prevention as well as careful pruning to remove spindly growth and damaged or diseased canes.
About mid to late August stop fertilizing though do continue to water deeply (never let the roots of a rose completely dry out). About late September stop cutting blooms and allow a few rose hips to develop which will be a signal to the plant that it’s dormant period is approaching.
Once you have had a few good frosts, leaves will start falling. Apply a dormant spray such as lime sulfur or a dormant oil spray. This will kill pests and fungal diseases that might try to over-winter on the plant or surrounding soil. It can also help nudge those final leaves off. Rake leaves from around your plants and throughout your yard to prevent the spread of disease or a place for pests to hide.
Continue watering only as needed until the first hard frost and the ground is frozen. At this point cover the base (crown) of the plant and the surrounding soil (about 12 inches around the base of the plant) with a thick layer of straw, leaves or mulch and then cover with a few inches of soil. Do not remove soil from around the plant to cover the crown, that soil is needed to insulate the rest of the surrounding roots. Instead, use soil from another part of the garden.
Climbing roses require the same protection listed above and in addition will need to have their long canes protected as well. Carefully remove the canes from the trellis, fence or wall they are tied to, lay them on the ground and cover with a thick layer of straw, leaves or mulch and a few inches of soil just like the base of the plant.
Tree roses are a special case in that not only do you need to protect the base and “trunk” of the plant but the top flowering crown as well.
There are 3 ways to over-winter a rose standard if it is planted in the ground. One, is to dig the plant up keeping a good sized root-ball and “heal” the plant into a large container then move it into a shed or garage for the winter. As spring approaches the plant is brought back outside and re-planted in the ground.
The second method is to carefully remove some soil from one side of the plant and bend it until it is laying on its side and then covering the entire plant with a thick layer of straw, leaves or mulch and 3 to 4 inches of soil. This method can be tricky for the novice gardener as there is a danger of cracking or breaking the plant at one of its grafting points.
The third method may be the easiest for a ground planted tree rose. First, wrap the entire plant in a thick layer of straw and burlap taking care to fully protect the plant from top to bottom. Secure everything with either clips, string, twine or wire and after taking a few measurements construct a ply-wood box (with an open bottom) to place around or over the plant.
Rose standards that are planted in containers are the easiest to care for. After following the advice for preparing a rose for winter listed above, simply move into a shed or garage where the temperature will be milder than the temperature outside. Check the soil now and then to make sure the roots do not dry out (water lightly when needed) and move back outside once the danger of frost has past.
Late winter – early spring: When there is no longer a danger of a killing freeze uncover your roses and water deeply if needed. Once new growth starts to appear is when you’ll want to prune. Remove any damaged or spindly canes and prune back healthy canes by 1/3 to 1/2. Then fertilize and follow all the steps necessary to promote healthy vigorous plants for the entire growing season.
As you can see winter rose care is a very important aspect of rose gardening. Most areas require roses to go dormant for a period of time before “springing” into action after Christmas, unless you are in the southern hemisphere and then your winter rose care should be taking place around Easter time.
These two articles, together, cover all the basics for your winter rose gardening. If you build a plan, based on these two articles your winter rose care will be a successful event and you can look forward to a summer of glorious blooms.
If you have further ideas and suggestions concerning the winter rose care of your roses beds, don’t hesitate to use the Q & A page to send us your suggestions and/or your questions. We all need to improve our winter rose care plan to ensure summer success.
Winter Rose gardening starts in spring with building strong plants and follows through winter with a logical plan, built for your specific climate area. Let us know how you get on!