Planning Your Rose Garden
Your Rose Garden Site
A Guide to Planting Roses
Feeding Your Roses
Dealing with Rose Disease
Insect Prevention and Treatments for Roses
Winter Protection for Roses
Rose Propagation
Cut Flower Care
Rose Colors and Their Meanings
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                     Winter Protection for Roses

In order for your roses to survive the winter, keeping them in good health during the summer is the most important thing you can do for winter rose protection.  Roses that go into dormancy after being properly watered, well fed, insect and rose disease free will survive the winter months. Roses that have been poorly maintained during the summer months usually do not have a very good survival rate.

It is possible to provide winter rose protection to roses without having to go to a huge amount of trouble. Letting your roses slowly go dormant, shielding them from temperature differences, will get their natural defense system to work properly.

What causes the damage to roses in winter?

The answer to this question quite plainly is water. Roses retain water in their cells during their growing season. When the temperature suddenly falls the water in the cells freezes, making the cells expand and rupture, causing damage or killing them. However if roses go dormant slowly, the cell walls will have time to thicken and the water turns into a form that fights freezing. This new form of liquid is like an antifreeze keeping your roses from damage. Cold-hardiness in roses is the degree in which a rose can make this conversion.

Is timing important?

Roses can stand very low temperatures and not be harmed when they are dormant. The trick is to keep the rose plant in a dormant state. Applying winter protection to soon, before the ground has time to freeze, delays dormancy and keeps the soil warm.

Preparing your roses for winter months.

1. After the end of August do not fertilize. New growth shoots will be encouraged by the fertilizer. In September, check the base of your rose bushes for new growth, remove any newgrowth you find to prevent an early freeze injury.

2. Reduce manual watering, starting at the beginning of September. Reducing the water roses  take in will allow them to start the hardening off process for dormancy.

3. Dead leaves and any debris should be cleaned up around the base of roses. This helps to eliminate any insects on your roses or diseases that decide to stay or live through the winter months.

4. Roses that had insect problems in Summer, should be sprayed with a dormant oil. Apply it to the canes and soil surfaces. Make sure your roses are dormant before doing this.

5. Avoiding dehydration, some causes of winter damage are low humidity, in conjunction with intense winter sunshine and wind. Spraying plants with a product called Wilt-Pruf when plants are dormant helps to combat dehydration. If winter months are dry, water plants every three weeks.

6. Pruning in the fall, is not needed except to shorten any extra long canes that could be broken off by strong winds or any heavy snow. The end of April is the earliest your roses need to be pruned.

Specific needs of rose species

Miniature Roses: These roses are very hardy and need very little in the way of winter protection. Miniature roses are small and easy to protect, mound mulch around the stems to the depth of four to six inches, adding three inches over the soil around the rose plant. Mulch can be anything from bark, straw, evergreen boughs, ground leaves and soil. If you choose soil as your mulch see that it is brought in from another location, using the soil already there could expose and damage surface roots. In Spring, remove mulch a little at a time to give new growth time to become accustomed to sun and wind. winter protection

Old garden and Shrub roses: These roses are winter hardy and do not need much in the way of protection. However a little mulch mounding provides added protection.

Floribunda's: These rose species are hardier than hybrid teas, but could benefit from winter protection. Treat them the same as miniatures, mulch to maintain a dormant state.

Hybrid teas: Purchase only hybrid tea roses that are hardy to your location. To protect them cover the base with twelve inches or more of mulch. Bring in mulch or soil from another place,do not rake it up from the base, this can cause damage to surface roots. Contain the mulch to keep it from blowing away. Wire mesh cylinders and rose collars made of plastic about twelve inches in diameter can be used and bought at any garden center. Start removing the mulch a little at a time around the middle of April. A foam cone that fits over the rose plant can also be purchased, however the rose plant must be pruned, which is not recommended in winter to fit the cone. The cone allows the rose plant to heat up in warm spells, breaking the plants dormant state and encouraging shoot growth. Burlap Wrap

Climbers: Due to their height, these roses are hard to protect. Removing the climbers canes from their supports when they are dormant, fastening them to the ground and covering them with mulch is one method. Another is to leave the canes where they are and wrap them in burlap and tie them in place to keep them from wind damage.

Tree roses: This is one of the most difficult roses to protect in the winter months. There are two methods to protect these roses if you are  planning to leave them outside. The first is to wrap the rose in burlap, starting at soil level and going to the top, high enough to cover the graft. winter protectionThe second is to loosen the soil around the roots, make a trench, lean it over and cover the whole plant with mulch. Also you can dig up the tree, store it in a cool place like a garage or a basement until Spring returns and then replant.

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