How to Prepare Roses for Winter

How to Prepare Roses for Winter. In all but the warmest climates, roses need to have a little protection to get them through the winter. How much protection, however, varies with your climate and with the type of roses. Rugosa roses, for example, are one of the toughest and can get through nearly any winter without protection.

Things You'll Need

  • Straws
  • Garden Spades
  • Pruning Shears
  • Burlap
  • Twine

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Identify the type of roses you have, if possible. Hybrid tea roses need somewhat different treatment than do rugosas or climbers. If in doubt, go for maximum protection just to be sure.

Figure out your USDA Zone and/or your region's lowest temperatures. How much protection you need depends on how cold your winters get.

Don't worry about additional winter protection if you live in regions where temperatures don't fall below 20 degrees (Zone 9 and warmer). All you'll want to do to prepare your roses for winter is cut back damaged or cold-blackened portions of the plant.

Mound 4-5 inches of soil over the base of the rose if you live in cooler regions where temperatures don't fall below 10 degrees below zero (Zones 6-8); in these climates nearly all roses can get through the winter with a simple mounding.

Mound to about a foot a month after your region's last average frost date if you live in cold-winter regions where temperatures get colder than 10 degrees below zero (Zone 5 and colder). More protection is needed here for all roses, with the exception of those tough rugosas.

Wrap the entire plant in burlap to protect upper parts in these coldest climates; do this two weeks after mounding. Tie the burlap in place with twine. If the plant is too large to do this easily, consider pruning back some parts. Proceed with caution since some roses will bloom only on the season's previous growth.

Provide climbers with additional protection in Zones 4 and colder. Remove them from their support and lay them on the ground. Pin them down with bricks or stakes. Then mulch over them with straw, pine boughs, or other loose material.

Tips & Warnings

  • In addition to helping you determine protection, knowing what sort of roses you have also is important to help in pruning. Some roses will bloom only on the season's previous growth.
  • Another idea for protecting climbers is to dig a trench alongside the climber and lay it in the trench, covering it up with a few inches of soil to protect it from winter's extremes. Uncover and put the climber back up on its support in early spring once the rose starts to send out new growth.
  • Be sure to remove all mounded soil from the base of roses in spring once a rose starts to send out new growth.
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