Winterizing Your Roses

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Because of the delicate beauty of the flowers, roses are often perceived to be weak and less than hardy.  But don’t let their gorgeous looks fool you!  With a few winterizing tips, your rose bushes will weather the weather (so to speak) with no problem at all!

Shifting from fall into the winter season, roses are a bit sensitive to the  temperature fluctuations so common in our area. Roses need to be allowed to go dormant before preparing for the winter months, so eliminate any fertilizing or pruning during this transition period.

Generally this occurs during the month of November and some cool and moderate freezing conditions will allow the soil temps to lower for the dormant condition needed. Once this has occurred, usually by late November, mulching and winter prep pruning are among the next procedures.

Mulching with a shredded pine bark mulch (our experts’ preferred mulch for this purpose) at the base of rose bushes is primarily done to hold in the cool soil temperatures so that those unexpected warmer spells won’t cause the roses to wake up, so to speak.

For grafted forms of Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora and Floribunda roses, create a mounded appearance up to 12” or more within the rose center.  This will protect the graft area as well as the lower primary structural canes. Come mid-spring just lower the pile by  spreading out the mulch over your rose beds.

For pruning, we suggest only a moderate amount of pruning during the dormant prep period, usually down to 30-36”, removing all taller leggy growth that cause damage during ice or snow loads. No thinning is necessary – just pruning where and if needed.

Another great addition to your rose winterization process is applying a dusting sulfur, such as Hi-Yield Dusting Sulfur to prevent disease spores from over-wintering. Before mulching, clean all debris from under the bushes then apply the dusting sulfur over the roses, the lower canes and general area beneath.  And after you have applied the mulch, dust that mound as well!

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