Winterizing Knock Out Roses - Knowledgebase Question

St. Louis, MO
Question by srlieberman
October 13, 2002
I have been advised to mound soil and/or mulch 6"-12" high and wide on my Knock Out rose bush? Is this necessary on this type of rose bush? I have been given conflicting advice. I have Nearly Wild Roses that I leave alone and they have survived the past 2 seasons. I prune them back in the spring. Also, is there a specific way to prune both of these roses. I have been given conflicting advice on this too. Thank you.


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Answer from NGA
October 13, 2002

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These are both among the most minimal maintenance roses. These hardy landscape roses should not require special winter care as one would need for the tender grafted hybrid tea roses. A year round layer of organic mulch several inches thick should be sufficient. Required pruning is absolutely minimal: in the spring, trim out any winter damaged canes. During the season, should a particular cane grow out of bounds a bit, just trim it back for neatness.

If desired, pruning can be more intensive. Early each spring simply trim the entire plant back very short to encourage dense new growth -- you could use a shedge shear to do this very fast. Alternatively, each spring or maybe every other year you could trim out some of the oldest canes by cutting them at the base. It takes some time and you need to use a good sharp bypass hand pruner to do it this way.

Either method will help keep vigorous new growth coming in and keep air flow moving through the center of the plant a bit better. You will also be able to keep the plant tidy although their normal shapes are fairly regular regardless. Enjoy your roses!

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