|Getting Ready For Winter: Putting Your Roses To Bed
Here are some simple yet effective things you can do to protect your roses and prepare the soil for next season. If you don't have a winter in your area, you don't need to read this.
|Rose Informational Page
by Bob Bauer
|Clear The Weeds
Yep. I know it's the end of the year, but you should get down on your hands and knees and pull up any weeds and grass that is growing around the base of your roses. Pull the weeds out by the roots! You don't want any winter grasses removing nutrients and you don't want any dead roots compacting the soil over the winter. Clear at least a circular area with a radius of at least about 1 foot from the stem.
How to Grow Page
|Pour On The Compost
Mound up compost, grass clippings, pine needles or leaves around the base of the rose in a cone shape about 1 foot or more deep. This serves two purposes: (1) It protects the bud union a bit from the direct effects of winter cold and (2) The pile will decompose and compost over the winter, providing nutrients directly into the root zone for the spring burst of growth.
|Top Dress With Manure
If you really want to give your roses a spring boost, shovel a layer of manure over the cone of compost and mulch that you have just applied around the base of the rose. Horse manure works best because it is usually has a component of alfalfa hay. Alfalfa has a root growth hormone contained in it ( A lot of rose people add alfalfa pellets around their roses in the spring).
The manure and compost pile will have all winter to decompose, so that in the spring you can dig it into the surface soil around the rose, replenishing the natural nutrients that your roses will thrive on. It is relatively easy to find a cheap or free source of horse manure, because it really piles up and most horse stables are glad to get rid of it.
|Advice For Those In VERY Cold Zones
If you are in Zone 3 or 4 (or even in the colder parts of zone 5), you need to take extra steps in order to insure the survival of your roses. Fall Pruning followed by completely covering the bush with mulch or compost is one technique. Another is to make a barrel shaped structure around your rose with chicken wire or fencing, and fill it up with leaves and mulch. Even with this type of protection, some varieties will have a hard time, but at least you've given them a chance.
A strategy used by some in zone 3 or 4 is rose 'tipping'. What you do is to dig a trench in a straight line perpendicular to your rose bush right up to the root zone. Then take a shovel on the other side of it and tip it over into the trench. Take soil and completely bury the rose. Don't forget to mark where you buried it, so you can easily dig it up in the spring and un-'tip' it.
Of course the wisest and easiest to follow advice is to make sure that you choose varieties that are winter hardy in your climate.
|Roses In Pots
Don't forget that if you live in an area with a freezing winter, you cannot keep your roses in bare clay pots. You must use plastic or foam pots, (or in some cases high fired and glazed pots). The freeze and thaw action of winter will turn your precious clay pots into pot shards by spring.
If you live in a masonry house, (or a house with poor insulation), you can move the potted roses right next to a masonry wall and shovel dirt around the bottoms of the pots. Your goal here is to connect the mass of the pots to the mass of the building. The heat of the building and the ground will really help to keep your roses in better shape. Burying the potted rose in mulch or compost for the winter will also work.
You can also dig a hole the size of the pot and put the pot in the ground. Cover with mulch as you would any other rose in the ground.
Another strategy for potted roses is to move them into an unheated garage. Note that you cannot move them to a heated garage, because they will break dormancy and die due to lack of sun. Make sure to keep them moist over the winter if you keep the pots in your garage.
Of course the best thing for potted roses is to move them to your greenhouse . But seeing as how most of us don't have one, we will just leave that suggestion to the few and the proud. (grin)