winter care of roses - Knowledgebase Question

allison park, Pe
Question by carolg08
November 15, 2010
I have climbing roses and a shrub rose. I'm new to growing flowers and do not know how to prepare them for winter. Please help.


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Answer from NGA
November 15, 2010

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If you haven't stopped fertilizing your roses yet, you should stop now. Generally, it is a good idea to stop fertilizing roses in early August. If you fertilize beyond that date, you can get a flush of new growth -- just when the plant should be winding down and preparing for winter dormancy. At this time of year, stop deadheading (removing the spent blooms). Instead, let those blooms stay intact and form seedpods, or "hips." The formation of hips signals the rose to stop growing. Once your roses are dormant, (usually after the first frost of the season) it is time to apply the winter protection. Begin by cleaning up the rose bed, removing all leaf litter from the ground and the top inch of mulch. There are many diseases that overwinter in leaf litter, so good housecleaning in the fall is essential. Some gardeners go as far as plucking off any leaves that are still clinging on the canes. Next, give the bed a deep watering. The roses need a big gulp before their long winter's nap.

Here are two options for protecting shrub roses: 1. Cut canes back to 2 to 3 feet tall after the plant ise dormant. Cover the crown with a 1-foot-deep layer of bark mulch. The mulch will protect the crown and allow air to circulate. Don't use soil, leaves, or grass clippings as they tend to hold too much water, which can cause rot. Then wrap the canes with burlap to protect them from drying winds. Or, 2: Use purchased rose cones. Choose ones with an open top so the heat won't build up inside, and be sure to anchor them well so they won't blow away.

Climbing roses should have their canes secured prior to winter weather, so they don't whip around and become damaged. Most pruning can be done during the dormant season prior to bud swell in the spring. If you are new to roses or are looking for easier roses, you might look into a good basic rose book. One I like is Roses for Dummies by Lance Walheim ISBN 0-7645-5031-4. It goes into the different types of roses and explains their care very clearly, complete with diagrams for the potentially confusing parts such as pruning.

Hope this information is helpful.

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