Winter Protection for Roses
Winterizing roses is a very important maintenance practice to ensure vigorous growth from year to year. There are several things you can do to make sure your roses survive Ohio winters long before the cold winds blow.
- First, choose the most winter hardy roses available to plant in your rose bed.
- Make sure your roses are healthy and not under stress because they have a better chance of surviving winter than weak plants.
- Reduce stress on roses going into the dormant season by irrigating adequately in late autumn if rain is minimal and discontinuing nitrogen fertilizer applications in late summer or early autumn.
For minimum winter protection, tie canes of bush roses together, then mound soil 8 to 10 inches high around canes.
Hybrid Teas, grandifloras and floribundas should be protected from winter damage after a killing frost but before the soil freezes. In Ohio, that would be late November or early December. Reduce breakage of tall canes by winter winds by cutting them back to 30 to 36 inches and tying tips together. Remove dead and fallen leaves around the plants. Hill soil over the center of the plants in broad rounded mounds at least 12 inches high and 12 inches wide. Cover the soil mounds with a mulch of leaves, pine bark, evergreen boughs, or some similar material.
Another method includes using all mulch, such as, wood chips, sawdust, shredded hardwood, or pine bark, instead of soil, mounded 15 to 18 inches. Some gardeners prefer to construct wire mesh cylinders to surround each plant, which they fill with mulch. Corrugated plastic rose collars are also available. Still others use baskets with the bottoms cut out or burlap to wrap the plants.
To winterize climbers, remove them from their support. Lay them on the ground and cover with 3 to 4 inches of soil. If this cannot be done, gather the tips of the stems together, tie them, and wrap in straw with a wrapping of burlap over that. The base of the climber should be covered with 8-10 inches of soil or mulch.
Although most shrub roses are very hardy and require little winter protection, you may wish to protect them with a 6″ mound of soil or mulch around the base of the plant. If the plant is tall it can be pruned a little at this time to reduce wind damage.
When severe winter weather conditions have subsided, which is typically mid-March or early April inOhio, remove most of the mulch and soil from around the bases of plants. You may leave a 2-inch layer of mulch in the bed.