Winter Protection for Roses
Tips and techniques for preventing damage
Some types of roses easily withstand frigid winter weather, while others benefit from protection against cold temperatures and drying winds. In general, hybrid tea roses are most susceptible to winter damage. Here's how to protect your prized plants.
- Stop fertilizing roses in mid-summer. Fertilizing plants encourages flushes of new growth that delay the plant's natural tendency to slow down in fall.
- Allow hips to form. In early fall, stop removing spent blooms and allow the fruits, called hips, to form. This, too, signals the plant to go dormant.
- Wait to apply any winter covering. Wait until after a hard frost and nighttime temperatures have dropped below freezing for at least a week before mulching or otherwise covering plants. Protective mulches are as much about preventing thawing as they are about preventing damage from extreme cold.
- Rake up fallen leaves. Pick any remaining leaves off the canes, and rake up and remove fallen leaves because they can harbor disease organisms.
- Prune canes back. Choose the strongest, most vigorous canes — those that are at least the diameter of a pencil — and prune them back to 10" to 12" high, leaving at least three healthy buds on each. Remove the weakest, thinnest canes by pruning them right to the ground.
- Apply mulch. Apply a thick layer of insulating material, such as bark mulch, over the plant. Take care to cover the graft union, which is especially vulnerable to cold temperatures. (The graft union is the swollen area near the base of the plant where the rootstock was joined to the top part of the plant.)
We recommend covering your rose with our Rosy Cozy™ Rose Cone to protect it from extreme cold and temperature fluctuations. Place the wire cage over the pruned-back plant and add insulating material. Slip on the white tarpaulin cover and place bricks in the stirrups to anchor it. In contrast to styrofoam rose cones that suffocate plants or crumble and blow away, the Rosy Cozy is durable and reusable, with a mesh top that allows excess heat escape.
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