The Q&A Archives: Cut Down Roses or Not?

Question: I have three types of rose bushes: Sunsprite, Rosa Radcon (pink knockout), and Easy Care Flower Carpet). I have read varying advice on how to best prepare them for winter. They are all about 2-3' tall and no longer producing blooms. Should I cut the canes low and mulch the crown area for the winter or leave them alone? Feed or don't feed?


Answer: At this time of year you don't want to do anything to encourage new growth on your roses. Instead, you want them to slowly go into a natural state of dormancy (that's how they react the the shorter days and cooler temperatures). For that reason, feeding and pruning are not recommended from mid-September on. Your carpet or groundcover roses should winter over just fine without any special care but if you have some organic mulch material such as compost or shredded leaves, you can pile it up around the main stems of your plants. It isn't necessary but I find that the organic matter does keep the soil from thawing and heaving the plants right out of the ground, plus as it decomposes it releases nutrients into the soil. In the spring, when new growth begins, you can prune your roses back to encourage lots of new growth and you can feed them at that time, as well.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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