Many rose bushes go into winter dormancy, but they need some attention to keep them healthy and producing in spring. Whether you live in a cold zone or not, it’s important to take some precautions to help your roses survive winter.
One of the most important steps is cleaning up leaves and debris from around your roses, removing any fallen branches or other materials that can harbor pests and disease.
Pruning is essential to the health and life of roses, no matter what type you grow. It helps control size, encourages new flowering growth and trains the plant to produce its best flowers.
To prune your rose, first identify any dead or diseased stems you want to remove. These should be removed as close to the base of the plant as possible.
Then look at the rest of the stems to decide which ones you’re going to cut. Removing stems that cross or overlap will help prevent them from rubbing against each other and possibly inviting diseases into your rose.
Then use your sharp shears to cut back the remaining viable canes as much as possible. This will help prepare your rose to send out new shoots and blooms in the spring.
Winter is the time to apply a thick layer of mulch around roses. This helps control weeds, retain moisture and prevents the ground from drying out too quickly.
For hybrid teas, floribunda and grandiflora roses in zones 7 and 8, a traditional method is to mound six inches of soil or compost over the graft union where the rose variety is attached to a hardy rootstock. This will protect the roots and graft.
A softer mulch can be applied to the top of the mounded plant, such as marsh hay, straw, pine boughs or shredded leaves. Mulch will help retain moisture and protect the rose from freezing winds.
Alternatively, gardeners can also use rose cones to protect their bushes in cold climates. These are available at nurseries and are a good choice if the roses are in an area that is not too windy. The cones should be large enough to cover the entire rose.
Watering roses is important at any time of year, but it’s especially important in winter because cold air and snow can pull moisture from the canes and soil. This makes it more likely that your roses will dry out and become dormant during the winter.
To help protect your roses from this, create a mound of soil around the base of each rose bush. Place a layer of mulch over the top to prevent the soil from eroding away.
Alternatively, you can use a collar. This method is similar to the hilling technique, except an 18-inch-high circle of hardware cloth or chicken wire is placed around the plant before freezing.
In areas where roses are not typically prone to freezing temperatures, it’s often enough to protect them from the elements in this way. However, if you live in an area that sees freezing temperatures for prolonged periods, you may need to take additional measures. This will vary depending on your location and the type of rose you are protecting.
Insect control is a key part of winter rose care tips because it helps keep pests at bay and prevent disease. The most common insect problems associated with roses are aphids, mites and Japanese beetles.
Aphids are small, green or pinkish insects that feed on the tips of new shoots and flower buds. They can cause distorted leaves and stunt new growth.
They can also cause flowers to wilt and shrivele. Observe the rose plant for signs of aphid infestation and remove infested areas.
Leafcutting bees are another common pest on roses. They cut off sections of the rose leaves to line their nests.
They overwinter in leaf and plant litter or grass clumps, so good cleanup will help reduce the number of these pests. You can drench the soil around rose bushes in heavy infestations to drown the pupae.