The Q&A Archives: Topiary Rose Bush

Question: My husband gave me a Mr. Lincoln topiary rose bush (tree)for Mother's Day last year. I have been unable to find any information on care and overwintering except for when they are planted in the ground. I planted mine in a planter that can withstand colder temps. I was unsure whether to leave it outside or not for the winter and no one that I asked seemed to know either. Well, I stored it in my garage for the winter and wrapped burlap around the top of the stem where the branches are grafted(?). The weather has warmed up in my area and the rose is growing profusely (still in my garage). My question is when should I move it back outside and how and when should I prune it. I really enjoyed it's fragrance and beauty last summer and would like to for many years to come.

Answer: This would be a hybrid tea on a high graft to form the tree shape. The graft is not very cold hardy, so you do need to protect it from extreme cold just as you did. Since it is in a container you might consider putting it on a roller tray (or dolly or child's wagon) and taking it in and out each day so that it can get a head start on the sunshine but still be protected from freezing nights. Next year, you might set it outside a bit earlier to try to keep it from leafing out so early -- just let it "wake up" naturally with the season. As it is now, you will need to gradually acclimate it to the outdoors so it won't sunburn. Pruning would follow, to some extent, normal hybrid tea pruning rules in that a hard pruning results in larger but fewer flowers, prune out any diseased or damaged stems, thin to allow for some air flow at the interior, and then finally for shape. Enjoy your rose!

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