The Q&A Archives: Overwintering a Tree Rose

Question: I planted a tree rose a year ago but lost it over the winter. I did not take any special precautions with it. I received another one for Mother's Day and don't want to make the same mistake.

Answer: Here's a description of what to do to prepare roses for winter. It's taken from "Roses for Dummies" written by Lance Walheim and the National Gardening Association.

Stop fertilizing 6 weeks before the first frost and let spent flowers go to seed rather than cutting them off. This encourages the plant to go into dormancy. Then,

1. Deep water after the first frost, but before the ground hardens.

2. When nights start being frosty on a regular basis, mound several shovels of soil over the base of the plant, at least a foot above the bud union. To make this easier, you can tie the canes together with a string.

3. When the ground is completely frozen, cover the mound with a foot layer of mulch, such as compost or leaves. This helps prevent repeated freezing and thawing, which can damage roots. You can also enclose the rose with a cyclinder of wire mesh and fill it with mulch. Remove all leaves from the roses, which can harbor disease and increase drying out of the plant.

4. When the ground starts thawing in the spring, gradually start removing the covering. Do it by hand or with a gentle stream of water so as not to damage tender buds. Don't remove all at once, let the plant acclimate.

Because of their height, tree roses need protection because of their exposure to wind and cold. Dig up tree roses and store them in a cool garage or basement. Or, dig only one side of the tree roses? roots so that it can lie down on its side. Secure it in place with stakes and cover the entire plant with soil and mulch.

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