Cool fall weather often gives rise to outbreaks of powdery mildew, which looks like white patches on rose leaves. Don't waste time spraying this late in the season, but do gather up withered leaves and put them in the garbage to interrupt the fungus' life cycle.
Plan Fall Pruning
Last month's warm spell is the reason why it's best to wait until winter begins to prune back hybrid teas and other grafted roses. When pruned too early, the plants will produce new growth that is killed by cold. Thanksgiving weekend is often a good time to attend to this task.
Locate a supply of clean, seedless wheat straw or pine straw to use as winter mulch in the rose garden. Keep it in a dry place until you're ready to use it ? after winter pruning is done, or after leaves have fallen from climbers and shrub roses that are not pruned in the fall.
Prune Stem Tips
Do you have a rangy old rose that "planted" one of its stem tips, which has now grown into a new plant? Use a sharp spade to cut a circle around it, but don't dig and move it until spring. Pruning the roots now will make the move a little less traumatic.
Rout Out Weeds
Winter weeds, such as chickweed and henbit, are off and running, and they love the rich soil beneath roses. Pull them out when you see them, and toss them into your compost heap.