Winter is a time of rest and purification for your rose garden, but it can be a time of disaster as well if you fail to take the proper precautions. Here are some useful tips for winter rose gardening in your garden or backyard.
While “old garden roses” and own-root species are generally hardy enough to make it through the winter unscathed, the more fragile varieties, such as hybrid teas and budded roses, can have a rough time if they aren’t well protected.
Winter Rose Gardening
Preparing for the ravages of winter should start way back during the rose selection process.
When you’re browsing online and printed catalogs or admiring the selection in your local home and garden store, be sure to select varieties that are capable of withstanding the coldest winter temperatures that your geographic region is capable of dishing out.
If possible, refer to your area “hardiness zone maps” before you buy.
The key to having your roses survive the cold of winter is to force them into total dormancy. Stop applying fertilizer by mid-August, and stop deadheading and cutting flowers after the beginning of October. Allow hips to form to promote dormancy further.
How To Care For Roses In Winter In Cold Areas?
In extremely cold areas, your goal is to keep the plant frozen throughout the winter and prevent them from repeatedly entering freeze/thaw/freeze cycles.
With that in mind, don’t cover your plants too early. Wait until the first hard frost has struck and the leaves begin to wither and fall.
This is an excellent time to remove ground foliage and other garden debris from around the plants that may contain diseases and insects that will hibernate during the winter and return to feed on your roses in the spring.
Take a few minutes to prune back the taller roses before you begin covering the plants for the winter. Avoid doing a thorough pruning as you’ll want to cut back the dead and diseased canes come spring. This is also a good time to tie the canes together to protect them from being damaged by the howling winds of winter.
“Hilling” is a very common winter protection method for roses. You simply pile a loose and well-drained soil or compost around and over the rose bush until you reach a depth of approximately 10-12 inches.
Be sure that whatever soil or compost material you use has no excess moisture in it. You want to have only cold and dry soil for a winter covering.
Once the soil mound has frozen completely, you can cover it with leaves, hay, or evergreen branches.
Healthy roses, protected by clean and well-drained soli or compost, have a very good chance of surviving the winter season if you take the time to prepare them properly.
Once you have put your garden to bed for the winter, take some time to clean and sharpen your tools and put your shed or garage back in order so you’ll be ready for spring.
As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, you’ll be ready to sit back in front of the roaring fire and start ordering next year’s roses from your favorite catalogs and websites.