The Q&A Archives: Caring for a standard rose bush

Question: My friend just gave me one of your standard roses as a gift. It is still in its original container, however, I do not know the name of the rose. Can the rose stay outside over the winter or does it have to be protected from the harsh winter? I have an outside shed that is unheated and wondered if this is an ideal place to store it. Also, can I permanently keep it in its container? Shoud it be pruned in the spring? Thank you.

Answer: These patio tree roses or standards are often maintained as container plants indefinitely. They need special protection because they are high grafted, and if the graft freezes or is otherwise damaged then the rose will be ruined. Your shed might work if it is protected enough that the soil will not freeze solid. You will need to leave it outside until late fall after frosts but before it turns frigid. Let it slow down and begin to go dormant before you bring it inside. Then strip the foliage and store it in a dark cool place that is above freezing but below about 45 degrees. The darkness helps keep it from growing too soon. Water just enough that the soil does not go bone dry. In spring once the weather begins to moderate take it back outside to wake up naturally with the season. Prune it back quite hard in the spring, just as you would a regular rose of that variety growing in the ground, but be careful not to damage the graft when you prune. The alternative to winter indoor storage is to do a version of the Minnesota Tip and bury it in a horizontal trench outside, cover that with a generous heap of mulch. Bury it in late fall, dig it up in the spring. Prune it in the fall or spring, or prune partway in fall and finish it in spring so you don't have to dig as big a trench. Good luck with your rose!

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