Winterize your roses

One of the secrets to success in growing roses in areas with some cold winter weather is to prepare the plants properly for winter. (Actually, the best time to think about winter and roses is when you buy the plants, since some rose varieties are more hardy than others and some can’t survive at all in cold climates. Check with your local nursery or garden to determine if your roses are hardy enough to survive the cold in your part of the country.) These steps are recommended to prepare your roses for winter:

  1. Rake leaves and mulch away from the base of the plants. Disease spores or insect eggs may be hidden there.
  2. Trim off flowers and buds. The plants will produce new buds for spring, and you want the plant’s energy to go into underground growth over the winter.
  3. Examine and treat plants for disease and insects. The goal is to have “clean” rose plants going into winter, so be on the lookout for insects and diseases – especially rust and black spot. To protect your roses from insects, mites and diseases, apply garden disease control concentrate.
  4. Protect plants with soil. Mound clean garden soil, loosely over the base of each plant to a height of 8 to 10 inches. If you live in an area with especially cold winters or have roses that are not very hardy, you can add a cylinder of chicken wire around the mound and fill it loosely with straw or mulch. In extreme cases, “trenching” is recommended. Dig a trench about 8 inches deep next to your roses, loosen the remaining soil around the base of the plants, then gently push the shovel blade under each plant and topple it into the trench. Cover the trenched plants with clean garden soil and a layer of mulch, straw, or leaves.