The Q&A Archives: Wintering new rose bushes

Question: I have always understood from others that roses are somewhat temperamental and want to treat them correctly. How do we prune 3 new bushes in a mostly protected yard with lots of sun? 2 are in a small garden bed in front of an elevated cement porch & one is in a garden bed next to a fence with limited sun. Philadelphia winters are getting colder & more snowy, and I want to do the right thing in preparing them for winter.

Answer: Correct pruning really depends on what kind of rose you have -- eg. hybrid tea, old garden, landscape shrub, etc. Hybrid teas can be pruned back a bit to prevent them from being whipped around in the winter wind, but wait to do this until November or so when they have really stopped growing. (If you have hybrid teas, I hope you selected varieties that are hardy to zone 6. They will need a more severe pruning early next spring.) The others would not be pruned at all until spring. Landscape roses would be trimmed back to about a foot tall in the early spring. Old garden roses can be thinned and shaped as needed, but wait until after they bloom next spring. Since they are in a sheltered place, the only protection they should need is mulch. After a few freezes, apply mulch about six inches deep over the root area. This should insulate the roots and the graft if there is one. (I hope they were planted with the graft below the soil surface to provide additional protection.) The other thing you could do if you have had any disease problems this summer is to remove any foliage left on the plants this winter. Also be sure to clean up any prunings. Despite their reputation, carefully chosen rose cultivars with appropriate hardiness ratings and good disease resistance can be quite easy to grow. I hope this helps!

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