The Q&A Archives: Winter care of tree roses

Question: Just rcvd one of your tree roses as gift. How do I keep it over the winter? Trying to plan ahead!

Answer: This is always an interesting question. In late fall you need to take steps to protect the graft which is at the top of the plant where the tree branches begin. You wait until late fall so the plant has slowed down and hardened off for winter. Some gardeners do a version of the Minnesota tip for roses, meaning they dig a trench and bury it horizontally, return all the soil to cover it and also heap mulch over top of that. The other method is to bring it into a sheltered location for dormant storage. This requires a space that is dark (to prevent it trying to grow too soon) and quite cool but not freezing. Sometimes an unheated garage will do, or an unheated basement, but many modern homes seem to be too warm for this to work. Keep the soil barely damp so it does not go bone dry. In mid spring, dig it up or take it outside to wake up naturally with the season. You would also prune it back either in the fall or in the spring as you prefer. I hope this helps.

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