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Protect Your Roses in Winter

Author: MJ Blake
Taking basic precautions to protect your roses in winter is important for sustaining a garden. If you live in a temperate climate, the work will be different than the steps needed for very cold winter areas.

Rose in Winter

Do a little research before purchasing your first plant for a successful garden. Check out the US National Arboretum’s website or contact your local garden supply store to determine your climate zone. Zone 10 is the warmest zone, and Zones 4 and below representing the coldest zones. Ask a local garden expert to help with determining what plants will work best for your area.

As the warmest of climates, Zones 9 and 10 rarely have frosts so winter preparation is simpler. Winterizing roses is still important – though not as extensively. Plants still need to shut down production and damaged leaves should be removed to eliminate fungal and pest attacks. Feed plants with a light fertilizing mix in November for a December flowering. Then prune for the winter.

There are short bouts of freezing temperatures in Zones 7 and 8. Around the middle of November, after the second frost plants should be prepared for winter. Roses should be deadheaded and the plant base covered with 2 to 3 inches of mulch.

Winter Rose Hips

Winter temperatures can be severe in Zones 5 and 6, requiring extensive wintering for roses. If plants were selected as hardy winter roses, follow the above guidelines for Zones 7 and 8.

Protect roses from extreme cold by using one of the following procedures:

1. The rose is partially dug up and then buried. Strip off most of the foliage and tie the stems or canes together with a loose but secure rope or cord. The plant will be tipped over on its side in a hole long and wide enough to hold the plant. Cover the trench and the plant with soil. Miniature rose plants are small enough to be ‘buried’ under a layer of mounded soil with a second covering of mulch.

2. Protect the plant by building a cage to place around it. Build a mesh or wooden cage large enough to fit over the plant, fill the empty space with mulch, shredded leaves or straw. Secure the cage in the ground so it can’t be blown off. Then cover with a plastic bag or sheet.

3. For severe temperatures you might consider transplanting roses. Find a location which offers protection from the cold, sunlight is not necessary for wintering roses. After moving the plants pull off foliage and treat for bugs or fungus if needed.

Climbing or rambling roses and plants with long stems need more specialized protection when overwintering. Pull stems together and wrap them up, anchor climbing roses. Then wrap the whole plant with straw before covering with plastic or heavy cloth.

If temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, roses may not survive; burying or transplanting offers the best protection against extreme cold. For a plant to survive winter, a summer of good care increases its chances. Follow recommended procedures for feeding and pruning plants, minimize pest control, and your garden will have a good chance of enduring the winter climate.

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About the Author

MJ Blake has been growing roses for years and has recently decided to share that knowledge with the world. For tons more information related to winterizing roses, please visit

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