It’s that time of year again in the Midwest. It time to start thinking of the changing of seasons and old man winter will be slowly creeping in. If you want your roses to survive over the cold winter months, you will have to do some planning ahead. Your planning starts toward the end of the summer in the midwest.
If you are lucky enough to live in a mild climate with mild winters, you might not have to take any special measures, Those of us that are not so lucky must start looking ahead and gear up to protect our delicate roses.
In the fall, you should start gradually watering less and less. This happens over a few weeks, and water is restricted a bit more each week to help toughen the stems of the roses. This helps keep the stems protected throughout the winter.
When rose hips begin to form, it signals that the plant’s growth cycle is finished for the season, and it begins to go dormant for the winter.
This is not the time to remove or pinch buds, because this can encourage new growth at a time when the plant should be shutting down.
Don’t remove dead flowers at this time, because they should be allowed to form rose hips. Rose hips are the fruit that is formed from dead roses. They are a great source of food for birds in the winter, and they also look quite attractive in a winter landscape.
In zones 7 and cooler, roses will need to be protected during the winter. They must be sheltered from both the cold and the damaging winds. Snow can actually protect delicate plants, because the snow actually provides a blanket of protection that keeps the soil from becoming too cold.
This helps keep the roots protected from frostbite, yet it also keeps them from causing the roses to go into a premature growth cycle because the roots get too warm. You can cover the bottom part of your roses with about eight or ten inches of compost or mulch to help protect the plant if you don’t get a lot of snow. Be careful to use soil from another location, because digging soil up from near the plant should hurt its roots.
Before you start your winterizing, you should be sure to remove any leaves that are left dead on the plant. You should also pick up any debris that is lying on the ground at the base of your roses and dispose of it by burning it or putting it into the trash. Don’t compost any rose debris, because it can infect your roses again next year if there were any problems. You can prune any areas you want at this time.
Styrofoam cones are available for protecting roses through the winter. Although these are somewhat unsightly, they can do a good job of protecting the plants. You should tie each plant into a bundle before putting the cone around it.
Don’t fill the cone with straw or leaves until after the ground has frozen, otherwise rodents may burrow into it. You can also use plastic towers that are filled with water, or you can use chicken wire towers filled with straw or leaves to protect the plants.
Burlap bags covering the rose bushes are also another good option. Tie rose canes together using a special synthetic twine that won’t decay. Stake a pole into the ground on one side of your rose bush. Gently cover your rose bush and tie it to the pole.
It is not so much the method you use as it is making sure you are providing protection for your rose bushes.
A few steps preparing this month will make way to strong, healthy rose bushes next season.