Backyard Garden: Winter Protection for Roses

While roses thrive in many places during the spring and summer, they can face the damaging wind and cold during the winter. To keep your roses healthy and looking great year after year, you should take extra steps to protect them during the winter.

The first step in helping roses survive winter is planting the appropriate varieties for your area. While hybrid teas are quite beautiful, they don’t fare well in cold winter weather. If you live in areas that get very cold and have harsh winds, choose a hardier variety that will have a better chance of survival.

To fully protect your roses from cold winter weather, you should take steps in the fall to help them go dormant. If they are completely dormant by the time winter weather arrives, they’ll have a better chance at making it. You should stop fertilizing your bushes sometime around mid-august. The exact date should be adjusted depending on how early or late your area freezes.

Once winter arrives, then you can take extra protective steps. In many rose varieties, damage is not caused by freezing, but by alternating of freezing and thawing. To properly winterize roses, you should let them freeze; then take steps to keep them frozen for the season.

After your area has experiences several hard freezes, you should mound about a foot of compost around the bottom of your bush to protect the roots and base. You should then protect the branches by adding another foot of mulch. This will help insulate the bush and keep it from thawing until it is warm enough to be safe. As an alternative, you can wrap the bush in a small fence or bag and fill this with compost and mulch instead.

If you have climbing rose bushes, remove the canes from the trellises, attach them to the ground, and cover them with layers of dirt and mulch. If you can’t move them to the ground, try to wrap them where they are. It is important for them to be protected from the cold, but also properly bundled so they don’t break from wind damage.

If you take these precautions during fall and winter, your plant will thank you with beautiful foliage and flowers when spring and summer come around.

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