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Preparing Roses for Winter
If you live in a climate zone that experiences sub freezing conditions during winter, your will want
to take some steps to care for your roses before the onset of cold weather. Many rose varieties —
hybrid teas, climbers, grandifloras, floribundas, standards — need special treatment before winter sets
in. The following steps can help protect roses from winter damage:
- Stop fertilizing roses six weeks before the first frost.
- Allow the last blooms to ripen into hips to signal the plant to slow its growth.
- Continue to keep roses well watered until the soil freezes.
- Prune back long canes. Shortening the canes before winter will lessen the risk of a bush drying in the wind. Wait until freezing weather sets in, then cut the canes back to about 2 feet. Remove all branches that are dead or diseased. If roses have suffered from attacks of black spot during the summer and diseased leaves surround the base of your plants, use a leaf blower to remove these leaves. They should not remain around the base of plants over winter to nesure that the problem doesn't recurr..
- Make a hill the roses. Simply build a mound of soil or well-rotted compost over the base of each rose. Cover the canes to a height of 12 inches. Take this soil from another part of the garden. Firm the soil or compost around the canes with your hands to keep it in place. At this time you can spray the exposed canes with an antidessicant, such as Wiltpruf.
- Once the mound of soil has frozen solid, place a cylinder of chicken wire around it and fill it with a 3-inch layer of noncompacting organic matter, such as straw or shredded oak leaves. This mulch will prevent alternating periods of freezing and thawing from damaging the buried parts of the rose.
- Use the same procedure for the base of a climbing rose, but be sure to tie long canes (over an arbor, for example) firmly in place so they will not whip about in the wind. Spray those canes several times during the winter with an antidessicant.
- If you have a standard tree rose, you must bury the entire plant somewhere in the corner of the garden. Dig a trench about 1 foot deep and lay the rose in it, then cover the whole plant with soil. If it is a potted standard, you can move the pot into a cool garage for the winter. Water sparingly during the winter months.
- In early spring pull away the mulch when all the hard frosts are likely to be over. After the mound of soil has thawed, use a gentle spray of water to remove the soil covering the rose so that you do not damage tender new shoots.