Prepare Roses for Winter

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Roses need extra care during the winter to ensure their return in the spring.  There are 5 easy steps to make sure roses make it through the winter.

Step 1: Help Roses Go Dormant

Make sure to stop fertilizing roses around the end of August.  The tender, new growth will suffer during the freezing winter.  Also, stop pruning or deadheading roses around the end of August.  This will also prevent new, tender growth, and allows the seed pods to form, promoting dormancy.

Step 2: Don’t Forget to Water

Even though more hard frosts are on the way and the rose is going dormant, water is still important.  After the first frost, thoroughly water the soil around the rose.  After the ground freezes, the bush has to care for itself.  During warmer, drier winters, check the soil around the base of the plant.  If it is dry, water lightly.

Step 3: Protect The Graft

The graft on a rose is at the base of the shrub before the root system.  This is where the rose species is attached to a hardy root stock.  The graft should be at or below the soil surface.  The colder the region, the deeper the graft should be in the soil.  Before mulching over the canes, remove any old rose leaves especially if the rose had a fungus or insect infestation.  When using a rose cone to help insulate the rose throughout the winter, make sure it has a removable top (we don’t recommend using rose cones with tops).  Place the cone around the canes and fill in with mulch such as compost or leaves.  Mound some soil around the cone to keep it in place during the winter.

Step 4: Climbing Rose Care

There are two ways to protect climbing roses.  Wrap the canes and pack with straw or leaves to protect them from dry winter winds.  Or, detach the canes from the trellis and gently bring them to the ground.  Stake them down and cover with mulch.

Step 5: Spring Time

After the thaw, remove any mulch and cone from around roses.  Make sure this is done before the buds break open and enjoy another year of beautiful, blooming splendor.

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