PREPARING YOUR ROSES FOR WINTER
BY JANE FRISCH
(Our guest in the
NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN today is Jane Frisch. Jane is a Consulting Rosarian,
Rose Show Judge, and editor of “The Rose Leaf”, the newsletter for
the Lincoln Rose Society.)
It is about
time to get your roses ready for winter. The first thing I do is cut
back the canes to about 30 inches, after they have become dormant
from a hard freeze. Be sure and wait until the rose is dormant as
you do not want to encourage any new shoots at this time of year from
the trimming. You may have to wait for several hard frosts, or temps in
the 15 to 20 degree range for several nights to be sure they are really
dormant. The reason to cut
them back is so they do not blow in the wind, causing the soil to loosen
around the base of the bush which can allow cold air to reach the bud
also removes many of the leaves that are still on the canes. Leaves left
on the canes or on the ground will harbor fungus spores and insects
through the winter. This
step is especially important if you have had a lot of blackspot because
this disease lives over in the soil, mulch and debris. I have had good results from spraying Manzate on the soil
and/or mulch in the fall and again in the spring to kill the blackspot
spores that overwinter in the mulch and debris. Mancozeb may also be
used. Manzate is a wettable powder so may have a longer shelf life. You
can also use a dormant oil spray such as lime sulphur to prevent over
When the beds
are cleaned up you will want to add protection for the bud union. Most
popular roses such as the hybrid teas and floribundas are budded onto a
hardy rootstock which produces the bud union. It looks like a big knot
on the stem. This bud union must be planted 1 to 2 inches below the ground level in order
to protect the plant from freezing.
Roses that have been properly cared for all of the growing season
are most likely to survive our harsh winter weather, but we still need
to protect that bud union since that is the heart of your rose plant and
will produce the rose you want next spring.
and thawing that we experience here in Lincoln can be very hard on rose
bushes. More plants,
including roses, are killed by the freezing and thawing than by cold
temperatures. During a warm spell in February or March, your rose bush
may break dormancy, if not protected by soil or mulch. Very low
temperatures the next week will then kill the plant. Remember,
protection is to keep the soil cold so the plant does not break dormancy
during a warm spell, not to keep it warm. Don’t cover your roses too
early in the fall, and don’t remove the cover too early in the spring.
Roses planted in a
protected area, such as close to the house, may survive without much
A mound of soil
around each bush, as high as possible, is most often used as protection.
Bring this soil in from another part of the garden, or purchase a
bag of compost or good top soil from the Garden Center. Just scraping
the soil from the rose bed may expose roots.
You may use some sort of collar formed of newspapers, roofing
material or wire mesh to hold more soil.
Add ground oak leaves for further protection if you wish.
Oak leaves are preferred to other leaves because they break down
without forming a slime and allow water to get through. Some rose
growers use shredded hardwood or compost to cover their roses. The
important thing is to cover the bud union at least by 6 inches.
The cold winter
winds in Lincoln may cause the exposed canes to dry out and die. Any
cane above the mound will undoubtedly be killed by the cold and wind.
“Wiltpruf” may help protect these canes.
One application in the fall and another around Valentine’s Day
when the temperature is above 40 degrees is recommended.
Many of the old
garden roses and shrubs will not need any winter protection as they are
much hardier than some of the modern roses that we love. Also, minis and
most shrub roses are on their own roots and not grafted, so do not need
present a different problem. It is important to know the variety of
climbing rose as some bloom on one year old wood and some bloom on new
wood. If they bloom on old wood, and are very hardy like “Blaze”, do
not do anything. They will be ok. They
may need to have spindly growth cut out and canes shortened and possibly
tied together so they do not whip around in the wind. Other climbers
that bloom on old or one year old wood, may need the added protection of
a good spraying of “Wiltpruf” to protect the long canes. Be sure to
spray all sides, not just the front.
You can also protect a tender climber by tying up the canes and
wrapping them in burlap and bubble wrap. Do not cut them back in the
fall or you will be cutting off the blooms for next year. In the spring
cut off any wood that has winter killed. Climbers that bloom on new wood
can be cut back and mounded like the Hybrid Teas. Minis enjoy a covering
of oak leaves, but that is all they need.
If we have warm
weather into November, you may still have some roses in bloom.
Wouldn’t it be great to have fresh roses on your holiday table?
It can be done if you want to try dry wrapping some blooms.
This is a method some exhibitors have used with great success.
The procedure is to cut the stem when the outside petals begin to
unfurl. A heavily petalled rose may need to be a bit further along
than one with fewer petals. Lay
each stem on three thickness of plastic wrap that is at least 8 inches
longer than the stem and bloom, with a little more wrap extending over
the bloom end. Roll the
rose in the plastic, removing as much air as possible.
Fold the ends back toward the stem and seal with rubber bands at
each end. Never place the rose in water, or leave any drops of water on
the leaves before you wrap it. Lay
the rose flat in the refrigerator. You will have to have a refrigerator
that will hold pretty consistently around 33 to 34 degrees. Roses,
successfully dry wrapped, may hold for 2 to 4 weeks.
Now you have to
bring them back to life. Take
a container deep enough to take the length of the stem you want to use.
Fill it with warm water, about the temperature of bath water.
Use some citric acid, lemon juice, vinegar, or Floralife to bring
the pH of the water down to about 3.0.
The acid in the water makes the water travel faster in the rose.
Unwrap the rose (it won’t look too healthy).
Re-cut about 2 inches of the stem under water, then completely
submerge the stem right up to the bloom.
The reviving will take from 15 minutes to a couple of hours.
Watch the bloom. When it starts to move (open), and it is about
halfway to where you want it to stop moving, place it in a container of
regular tap water. This
will start to slow the process. When
the bloom gets to where you want it, put it in a container of ice water.
Leave it in the ice water a while longer to rejuvenate the stem
and foliage completely. Miniature
roses work well with this method also.
The rose will usually hold for about 24 hours before moving
again. (Adapted from an article by Larry Meyer and printed in the Voice
of the Rose, Rose Society of Greater St. Louis.)
If we have a
winter with very little rain or snow, on a warm day in January and/or
around Valentine’s Day, get the hose out, and water enough so the
water gets down to the roots. This will help keep plants alive and from
drying out. Your plants will thank you for the drink.
If you take
care of your roses this fall, they will survive our harsh winters and
you can enjoy their beautiful blooms all next summer.
If you would
like to learn more about roses and their care, you are invited to join
the Lincoln Rose Society. They meet on the 3rd Monday of each month, usually
at the Shelter House, just northeast of the Auld Rec Center, in Antelope
Park. You do not have to be
a member to attend the meetings.
is adapted from the November, 2001, November 2002, and November, 2003,
issues of “The Rose Leaf”,
Newsletter of the Lincoln Rose Society, Jane Frisch Editor.)
Oct. 9, 2004