The Q&A Archives: Overwintering Tree Rose

Question: We planted a tree rose this spring, and I know we need to protect it over the winter here in upstate NY. We were thinking we could wrap it in burlap to give it some protection from the cold and wind. Or would we be better off to just leave it alone and take our chances?

Answer: The main concern with tree roses is to protect the high graft. It is subject to more exposure to the wind and cold and drying than a graft buried underground and insulated by the soil. The standard method for overwintering a tree rose in northern climates is to dig a trench 12-18" deep in the garden. Then they dig up the tree rose, prune the top, and lay the tree rose into the trench and backfill it with soil. Mulch over top of the tree rose with organic mulch to provide some extra protection. Mark the area so you don't forget where to dig it up in the spring. Another riskier option is to wrap the graft with an air-permeable material such as burlap stuffed with an insulating and non-packing material such as oak leaves. Plastic with insulation might be an alternative if you can vent it so that there is not excessive heat buildup on sunny days. Another alternative is to dig up the plant and pot it once it's dormant, then keep it in a cold but nonfreezing location such as an unheated garage.

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