Caring for your Roses Through Winter

 

rose2Even though hardy, roses can sometimes be tricky to winter. If your rose is truly hardy in Manitoba it shouldn't need extra care beyond a pruning; Though it's not a bad idea to give it a bit of extra mulching with leaves or flax straw. More tender varieties (those rated zone 4) will need a bit of extra work. Follow the steps below to prepare your tender roses for winter:

Mid Fall:
• Stop fertilizing your rose about 6 weeks before frost (usually around mid August). This will slow down active growth so the plant can start entering dormancy. Also at this point cut back a bit on watering, but don't let it dry out.
• Stop cutting off rose hips (spent blooms). This also tells the plant that it's time to start going dormant because it puts less energy into forming new flowers.

Late Fall:
• Water deeply after frost but before freezing. It's best to have your rose (and any plant for that matter) freeze with as much moisture in it as possible.
• Mound soil around the base of the rose when night temperatures start getting cold.
• When finally frozen, cover the mound with a thick layer of mulch. Flax straw, leaves, or compost all make for good insulation.
Tip: Use a rose collar (wire mesh around base of rose acting as a kind of cage) with mulch placed inside to keep it from blowing away.

Spring:
• Remove mulch and mounded soil. Do this as carefully as possible to avoid damaging any new growth.

 

Rose Cones
An alternative to using mulch is to use a rose cone. These are styrofoam or plastic coverings that go over top of your rose. If you prefer this option, make sure to add holes to it so the plant can breathe.

 Be sure to keep up the plant's health through the summer and active growth as well. A healthy plant will be better able to survive a cold winter.