Preparing Your Roses
“When artificial means are used to bring a plant through winter, often they can conflict with some beneficial factors. For die-back-hardy woody plants, the simplest winter protection technique is applying a few inches of mulch year round. This allows the plant in the autumn to grow into its fullest state of natural dormancy. It prevents the soil from getting as cold as would in open ground. And it allows the plant to break dormancy slower in the spring. Cutting back the canes only in the spring provides shade to the lower branches and helps attract snow cover that insulates and guards against low temperature injury and fluctuating temperatures.” ~ Will Radler
Be sure to identify your plant hardiness zone at Plantmaps.com. Your planting zone map guide will give you key frost dates and other very important weather information for your planting zone. My zone is Central Illinois, zone 6a in the Midwest, however the following tips work well for most areas of the country that have seasonal changes. What’s important to remember is this: cold weather is not what damages roses. It’s the warming and cooling that damages plants, so its warming and cooling that you are protecting your roses against.
- First you want to prevent breakage of your rose canes from winter winds by reducing the height of your plants. Broken canes can be a source of entry for diseases. Waist height is a good rule of thumb. Leave your climbers tall but secure them because most climbers bloom ‘on established canes’. Prune climbers after the first bloom in the spring. You can shape your tree roses if they have small non-productive canes.
- Mulch, leaves and organic soil can be mounded around the base of rose plants to protect from winter freezes. Its important to protect the graft on budded roses.
- Shut down the timed irrigation systems for winter but remember in many zones your roses may still need to be watered during the winter.
- Move container plants that you can inside.
- Container grown plants should be moved closer to the house to protect against winter winds. See “Oui Built a Greenhouse for $142.oo” on Gagasgarden.com
- The fall and winter months are the best time to go through the online catalogs I have listed on www.gagasgarden.com then order bareroot roses to arrive January through mid-April. Replace plants that or reduced to less than 3 healthy canes (pencil diameter), or with new and better varieties. Review the pictures on Gagasgarden of the Weeks Roses like ‘Pretty Lady Rose’, ‘Neil Diamond’, ‘Moonstone’, ‘Doris Day’ You’ll want these roses.
- Dilute Lime-Sulfur with water and spray over entire bed including the ground. This is very important to rid your garden of black spot spores that would harbor over the winter.
- The local Agricultural Extension Agency is where you obtain soil testing & evaluation. Then if needed apply lime to obtain a pH of around 6 to 6.5.
- Transplanting roses can be done successfully during this dormant stage. Carefully prepare the new spot 16″ deep, enriched with cow manure and soil conditioner. Placing spade 10″ from base of plant dig straight down into the bed in a circle around the plant, trying not to cut roots. Lift the plant with the shovel and carry it directly to the new spot. Fill in soil and cover the plant with a mound of mulch. Water 3-5 gal.
- Autumn is the perfect time to prepare the soil for winter or spring planting. Turn over the soil 16″ deep and apply proper soil amendments to produce a light loamy mixture. See gagasgarden.com for the perfect rose soil amendments.
- Do a careful inventory of your equipment then clean, sharpen and oil shears and pruners to prepare for spring pruning.