How To Protect Your Roses During the Winter

Roses have always been one of the most popular flowers for avid gardners. There are so many varieties and colors to choose from, that everyone can find at least one rose bush they just have to add to their flower garden.

If you love roses then you’ve probably spent a lot of time taking care of your roses so that they will be healthy and look their best. And, you don’t have to let the harsh winter weather destroy an entire summer’s work.

If you’re lucky enough to have mild winters, you may not need to take any steps at all to protect your roses. Hardy varieties of roses are available that can survive colder temperatures and this should be taken into consideration at the time you purchase rose bushes.

Even the hardy rose bushes might need some protection depending on the area where you live. The type that you have will determine how much or how little you’ll need to do to make sure that they will provide another summer of color for your garden.

For roses to survive through the winter months, they need to be forced into a dormant state. You can help push this process along by dead heading, cutting any more roses from the plants and allowing rose hip to develop. Fertilization should also be stopped no later than the middle or end of October.

Once you’ve had the season’s first hard frost, you can then cover your rose bushes. You want to wait and cover them after all the leaves have fallen off of the bush. Dead leaves and stems trapped around a covered bush will promote insects, mold and other plant infestations.

Insects will look for places to hide from the weather and any leaves at the base of your rose bush is the perfect place! A rose bush that was healthy and insect free when you covered it, might emerge badly damaged or dead when you uncover it.

When there isn’t any leaves left, rake the ground around the rose bush to remove any debris. You can even remove any dead leaves that are lingering on the plant yourself instead of waiting for them to fall off.

Many gardeners prune their rose bushes before covering them for the winter. Use your own judgement when it comes to pruning, it can actually stimulate plant growth and you don’t want them trying to grow during the winter months.

However, if there are really long limbs on the bush, it might make it more difficult to cover them properly. If you do decide to prune some of the limbs, don’t do a thorough job. Just cut away only what is necessary to allow for good coverage of the plant.

It’s a really good idea to tie all of the bushes canes together with twine or other strong string. This will help prevent the winter winds from breaking the limbs. It will also help keep them covered since the limbs won’t be swarming around as bad ripping the covering.

If you really don’t want to prune the bush or it’s a really large bush, you can build a frame for the covering. Metal poles inserted into the ground can even be used to keep the covering up off of the plant and protect it.

Before you cover your rose bushes there is one last step you should do. Get some good soil that is completely dry and pile it around the bottom of the bush. You want the soil to extend to about a foot up onto the bush. This layer of soil will reduce the damage caused by frozen roots.

Heavy sheets of plastic are most commonly used to cover any type of outdoor plant including roses. I have seen some people use thick pieces of cloth. But, using cloth can do a lot of damage. Unlike plastic that will repel water, cloth will absorb it and when the wet cloth freezes it will freeze right to the plant.

Many types of roses can actually live through being frozen. It’s the cycle of freezing and thawing over and over that can be vicious on your beautiful roses. If you have really cold winters, you may want to consider keeping your roses in containers so that you can take them inside a garage or storage shed until spring.