If you are a Rosarian, no matter where you live, you will want to winterize your roses. There is a school of thought that says winterizing is not necessary for some roses in some colder climates. But, while some climates permit minimal winter preparation and some rose varieties require little work for the winter, all roses need some type of treatment for any type of winter.
Roses are delicate plants that not only benefit from, but need, special attention. Of course, the return that roses give growers is ample to the efforts put into their care. Worldwide they are one of the most beloved plants and have come to be recognized as a sign of beauty and love. So why risk losing your precious roses because you did not winterize them correctly? A little time and effort can greatly improve the survival rate of your roses. Preserve your roses. Five easy steps can help your roses through the toughest of winters.
Don't let the winter month's sweep in and steal them away from you. Roses are resilient little troopers if you give them a jumpstart. If you set your roses up properly for the long, dark, snowy months ahead, they will be waiting for you in the spring. In climates that produce temperatures that remain below 20-degrees F (7-degrees C) for long stretches without snow cover apply cover to your roses. If winters in your climate bring temperatures below 10 degrees F (12 degrees C) protective covering is necessary. In climates where winter is cool but low temperatures are rare, leave roses out in the open.
Just before September hits stop feeding and pruning your roses. This will stop the growth of delicate new blossoms that can not survive the winter from forming. After the first frost give your roses a good watering session. This will give the roses a good start as they head into a long stretch of independent care. Take the time to give your rose bed a thorough cleaning. Get rid of any diseases and insects. Remove fallen petals and leaves in the rose bed. Don't attempt to reuse the rose bed debris in compost. Those unwanted pests may be lying in wait. Get rid of any old leaves so no insects hitch a ride on your roses into winter.
The time to begin preparing your roses for winter depends largely on your climate. In some climates you will want to begin protection after the first frost. In others you don't need to bundle your roses up until after the second frost. Apply protection as late as possible without compromising your roses and remove it as early as you can. Late November is a good time to get the protection on, but if your climate affords it, wait until Christmas.
Hybrid teas are the most popular roses grown in America. They are partially derived from plants that grow in moderate regions where winters are extremely mild. That means they are especially sensitive to the cold weather. Pile a six to eight inch pile of dirt along the base of the bush before the ground completely freezes.
While there are a few Rosarians that support protecting more than the bud union, most believe that covering the buds will suffice, unless you are growing climbing roses. Then you want to cover as much as you can. Wrap a heat conducting material around the bud union of the rose.
If you are dealing with climbing roses, these same basic steps will help you to winterize. Gently remove the canes from the arbors and bind them to one another. Remove the foliage and bend the canes to the ground before placing a wood and wire frame above the plant. Then the bush, without any major pruning, is encased entirely in a thermal blanket.
It is good to get your roses back into the open as soon as possible. Late April is a great time to set your roses free. New growth will have been stifled long enough to prevent damage from late season frosts. What destroys roses in the winter is debatable. Some believe it is the dehydrated soil. Other think it's the first strong frost, winterizing itself is also up for debate. This is a case of better safe than sorry
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