The Q&A Archives: Roses in Minnesota

Question: I planted 4 rose bushes last year. Today is May 4 and so far there is no sign of leaves budding. The stems also appear to be almost black in color. Am I to early in looking for growth or do you think they suffered winter damage?

Answer: There are hundreds of varieties of roses that grow very successfully in Minnesota, and almost all of them require some level of winter protection. In our climate, we need to protect many plants from low winter temperatures as well as the ups and downs of fall and early spring. Protection may be as simple as raking leaves over the roses in late fall, or as involved as using the Minnesota Tip method. In order to know what is appropriate for your roses, you need to know what type of roses you are growing. Most importantly, make sure your plants go into winter strong and healthy. You can help them get ready for winter by cutting back on the fertilizing by mid-August.

Roses can be divided into two basic groupings ? hardy and non-hardy. Hardy roses include most shrub roses, such as the Explorer series and the new Flower Carpet. Non-hardy roses include all grafted roses as well as a few shrub varieties such as the David Austin roses. All hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, polyanthas and many climbers are non-hardy grafted roses that require good winter protection. If you did not protect your roses over the winter months, it's possible that they did die back. You can try pruning off all but a few inches of the blackened stems. This may prompt the roots into producing healthy new canes. If not, I'm afraid they're goners. Best wishes with your roses!

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