A rose by any other name would still be a rose. But when it comes to winter the delicate flower needs to be protected. There are certain steps you need to take to prepare your roses for winter and precautions to care for them during the winter.
Prepare Roses For Winter
Obviously, the first task is to prepare the roses for the harsh cold and snow of winter. Some gardeners have come up with an eight-point plan.
1. Trick them into dormancy. Stop feeding and pruning roses sometime near the end of August. This discourages new tender growth that could suffer winter damage. Leave the lasts roses on the bush so that they can turn into hips or seed pods. The process of creating the seedpods tricks the rose that it is finished for the season and can lapse into dormancy.
2. Water rose bushes well. Thoroughly water the soil around the rose bush after the first frost arrives. When the ground freezes the bush is on its own.
3. Prevent over-wintering issues near the bush. Clear out fallen leaves to prevent diseases and insect infestation. If the leaves are healthy, compost the bush. However, if you have had problems with insects and/or a fungus including black spot, then dispose of the leaves and get them out of the garden.
4. Protect the graft union. After about two or so hard freezes, mound about 6-inches to 12-inches of compost around the crown of the plant to guard the roots and the graft union where the rose species attach to a hardy rootstock. The graft is at or just below the soil surface. If you experience mild winters, you can surround the rose bush with wire and stuff the cage with leaves or mulch. Don’t use the soil around the bush as mulch because moving the soil can expose or disturb the roots.
5. Protect climbing roses. Strong, dry winds can threaten climbing roses during the winter. Wrap the canes together bundling them similar to straw on the outside to serve as insulation. As an alternative you can remove the canes from their trellis or support, put them on the ground, then tie them together and secure them to the ground with landscape pins and cover them with a layer of mulch.
6. Caring for roses in zone 7 and 8 of the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Roses grown in the region of the country identified as zone 7 and 8 of the Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone Map could possibly suffer a freeze and even some snow. So protect the graft union with a mound of leaves or shredded mulch.
7. Caring for roses in zone 9+. If you live in zone 9 or above, the roses will not be threatened with freezing temperatures. However, watch for fungal diseases that could occur in cooler, wet weather. Since the roses are still growing and setting buds, November is a good time for a light feeding. Prune after the plants bloom in December.
8. Remove the protective mulch in the spring. Once the ground thaws soil piled around the stem could cause rot and host insects and voles.
Finally, some suggest that you spray lime sulfur on roses in winter when they are dormant. You should spray the entire shrub and ground around the bush. This will kill mold spores and offer a disease free bed for spring.