Maintenance must be
modified when the temperature readings are normal for the fall
season. If the autumn rains do not provide the minimum of one
inch of water per week, then supplemental watering must
continue. This is particularly
important for container roses and those under the house eaves where
rain water is insufficient. As the weeks pass, water is
gradually restricted to harden off (toughen) the rose canes.
The formation of rose hips tells the plant that its growth cycle is
complete so it can begin to shut down for the winter. Pruning
and disbudding are stopped since both encourage new growth. Instead
of deadheading the spent roses, they are allowed to form fruit (the
rose hips) which can be a source of food for birds during the winter
as well as adding attractive color to fall and winter
landscapes. In order to reduce the amount of debris left in
the rose bed, it is a simple task to pull off the petals and deposit
in the trash. The hips will then develop undisturbed.
The goal of rose maintenance before winter sets in is to create a
garden free of insects and diseases which may survive the winter if
not eradicated before winterizing cover is in place.
In zones Zones 7 and
colder, almost all roses need some kind of winter protection not
only from the cold but also from the whipping winds and wild
temperature swings which are the rule. A heavy blanket of snow
may well be the best winter protection since it prevents the soil
from getting too cold under it and, at the same time, prevents the
warming of the roots which may entice the rose into premature
In recent years, snow cover has been unreliable. To compensate
for this, artificial means must be employed. The strategies
used range from the simple covering of the base of the rose with an
extra 8 to 10-inches of soil or compost to elaborate structures of
styrofoam and wood. Bring in extra soil for this since
scraping up the soil around the rose bush may endanger the health of
its roots by exposing them to the winter cold and dryness.
Housekeeping chores should precede any winterizing programs.
If possible, all remaining leaves should be removed from the bushes
and all debris should be picked up and disposed of in the trash -
not in a compost pile. Many rose diseases can survive the
winter only to infect again. Selective pruning should be done
and, if the rose is to be housed in a styrofoam cone or structure,
the plant should be tied into a bundle and cut short enough to fit
the cone. If using one of these structures, wait until the
ground is frozen before filling with leaves or straw, as rodents
will make a home in it.
are some drawbacks to the cones and protective structures from small
wildlife and fungus diseases. Cones can provide a luxurious winter
home for rodents as they dine on rose shoots. When February
temperatures soar to 75-degrees and then plunge to 20-degrees the
next day, closed structures provide a perfect breeding place for
fungus diseases unless their lids are removed only for the duration
of a winter heat spell or holes for ventilation are made in the cone
itself. On very warm days, apply fungicide into the rose
Modified versions of total coverage include the plastic fences whose
walls, composed of water-filled tubes serve as insulation warmed by
the sun. Their centers are filled with chopped leaves to
protect the rose and its roots. Towers of chicken wire or
roofing paper filled with leaves are also successful. The key
of all of these open-end approaches is that, in each case, the base
of the rose is protected by a mound of soil.
Grandiflora and Floribunda Roses
Teas, grandifloras and floribundas should be protected from winter
damage after a killing frost but before the soil freezes, most
likely in 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, straw, boughs, or some
similar material to hold it in place. Another method includes
using all mulch, such as, wood chips, sawdust, shredded hardwood, or
pine bark, instead of soil, mounded to 15 to 18 inches. When
severe winter weather conditions have subsided, which is typically
mid-March or early April, remove most of the mulch and soil from
around the bases of plants. You may leave a 2-inch layer of mulch in
Climbers and Roses in Zone 5 and Colder
Burying roses in a
trench for winter protection is required in very cold zones.
This has come to be called the "Minnesota Method" since it
originated there in 1954 with Albert Nelson, a die-hard rose
Roses are dormant
sprayed in mid to late October at the time when you are doing
general fall cleanup. It is recommended that old mulch be
removed to control a prime source of disease infection for the
Tie the rose canes together using a synthetic twine that will not
decay over winter. This process can be described as lacing up
the plant - generally starting from the bottom and working up.
It is important to have an extra length of twine either left at the
top of the plant or added around the mid section of the tied
plant. This will be allowed to extend above the ground to help
the gardener locate and lift the plant in the spring.
A trench is dug on one
side of the plant and then the soil is loosened all around the
plant, using a garden fork to minimize root damage. The plant
is tipped into the trench, using the garden fork, and taking
advantage of the plant's flexibility just under the graft
union. With planning, the roses have been planted so that they
will bend toward the side where the graft is attached, reducing the
chances of breakage.
The plants are covered with the soil that was removed, being careful
to leave the end of the extra length of twine exposed. It is a
good idea to water the bed well at this point to help settle the
soil and to simply keep the canes and roots in good shape over the
winter. Growers understand the importance of summer watering
their roses and having rose beds with good drainage, however, the
plants can also be stressed if they enter the cold weather season
As the temperatures drop in early November, a blanket of leaves
12" - 18" deep is added. Watering will help keep the
leaves from blowing around. An alternative is to simply place
bagged leaves on top of the bed. Containers containing rodent
bait are tipped on their sides and placed in the leaves or between
the bags of leaves.
Early in April the leaves are removed. By the middle of April,
the rest of the process is reversed.
Container grown roses,
including trees if not too large, can be successfully protected by
laying them on their sides and burying them, without removing the
plants from their containers. Roses may also be dug and
bundled bareroot, and then the bundle buried, much as in the
Minnesota Tip. Healthy roses, protected by burying over
winter, generally survive with very minimal cane damage.
A rose bed may be
protected by constructing an oversized cold frame or rose house over
it. Plants are sprayed and pruned to about 2' or to fit the
rose house. A simple wooden frame is constructed that will
hold sheets of building styrofoam that make up the sides.
Additional sheets of styrofoam are used as covers for these
boxes. In the spring the covers can be slid open during warm
days to provide ventilation and closed again at night. The box
must be constructed in a manner to insure against the weight of the
snow and rain as well as strong winds. In the spring these
rose houses are dismantled and stored until the next fall.
Indoors or in Unheated Garages
An alternative method of
protecting miniatures - and other container grown roses - is
available to those with either an unheated garage or room where
there is a reasonable degree of control of the winter
temperatures. Keep in mind that most tender roses must be
maintained at temperatures above 20 degrees, preferably in the 40s
during the winter months. An alternative source of heat may be
necessary during extreme cold periods. The potted plants are
sprayed, tied and watered. To keep roses from drying out, the
pots are placed into plastic garbage bags, two to a bag with the
miniatures. The tops of the bags are tied. The bags are
placed on pallets or platforms to separate them a few inches from
the floor. There is a downside to this method: The
plants may respond to warm spring temperatures and began to grow
before it is warm enough to move the pots back outdoors.
Roses to Grow
and Species Hybrids: Species roses are those that
occur naturally in the wild. Some of these spring/early summer
bloomers are outstanding.
Gallica: These roses can
be traced back to the Greeks and Romans, who brought them to England
and France. They are some of the oldest roses in
existence. Gallicas bloom once heavily in the spring, on
shorter, bushy plants, with flowers that are red, deep pink, mauve,
striped or splashed with spots. The fragrance is intense and
spicy. Zone 4.
Alba: Albas were
introduced by Roman traders before 77 A.D. These are tall,
hardy, spring-blooming roses. The flowers have light,
sophisticated fragrances, and are generally semi-double to double,
pink or white. Foliage is grey-green, disease resistant, and
shade tolerant. Zone 3.
These roses date back to biblical times, referred to by Pliny in
ancient Rome and Virgil in 50 B.C. The arching canes are
smaller in diameter than those on the Gallicas, but make taller
plants. Flowers, often in clusters, are semi-double to double,
white to deep pink, borne on short peduncles with intense, unusual
fragrance. Autumn Damasks are known for repeat bloom in the
fall, though it rarely occurs in the colder climates. Zone 4.
"Hardee" rose shown.
C: Known as cabbage or
Provence roses, often depicted in old Dutch paintings, these
intensely fragrant roses bloom once, generally later than other
spring blooming types. They are a hardy Alba-Damask hybrid
with thorny arching canes and white to deep pink flowers. Zone
Moss: A fragrant sport of
the Centifolias, these roses have moss-like growth on the sepals
which exudes a sticky substance having a balsam scent. Some
will repeat bloom. Zone 4.
Hybrid Perpetual: These
roses were first recognized in Queen Victoria's time. They
have good June bloom with lighter repeat bloom later. Blooms
are reds, pinks, whites and mixes, and are often quite
fragrant. Some winter dieback is common, mulching or careful
site selection is advised for best success. Lightly prune
after spring bloom to encourage later summer bloom. Zone 4.
Roses (shown): These are the most shade,
drought and poor condition tolerant roses. They have bright
green heavily textured foliage that is disease resistant and that
dislikes chemical sprays. These shrubs, with repeat bloom,
come in reds, mauves, pinks and white. The plants have
attractive hips in the fall. Most zone 3.
Explorer Series, Ottawa Agriculture
Research Station, Ontario, Canada: Many of these roses
have Rugosa roses in their genetic development which gives them
extra hardiness and additional disease resistance. Included in
these roses is the first truly hardy climber, William Baffin.
Parkland Series, Morden Research Station,
Manitoba, Canada: These are hardy roses with
exceptional summer repeat bloom, especially if given attention
similar to that which we give our tender repeat bloomers. Some
have flowers that are similar to those of the tender Hybrid Teas and
Floribundas. Zone 3.
Dr. Griffith Buck, Iowa State University,
Ames, Iowa: Buck roses are complex hybrids of
Species roses, Shrub roses, early English roses, Hybrid Teas and
Grandifloras. The hardiness varies considerably. These
roses were developed to be hardy in zone 5. Many of them can
be considered dieback hardy in zone 4. More of these are
becoming commercially available today. Eighty-seven of the
Buck varieties have been registered with the ARS as of 1997.
Types: There are a number of other roses that have
been introduced, such as the Meidiland roses and David Austin's
English roses. Most of these will perform best with winter
protection, including the Minnesota Tip, in zones 3 and 4. Growers
in zone 5 will grow these and also the Hybrid Musks like buff
Beauty shown and some of the Bourbons with less
protection. Some others, like the shrubs Nevada and Lillian
Gibson, are hardy to Zone 3. "Jayne Austin"
For new good rose
candidates for your garden, check out the All-American Rose
Selections committee's 2008 AARS Rose
Winners, 2007 AARS Rose
Winners, 2006 AARS Rose
Winners, 2005 AARS Rose
Winners, 2004 AARS Rose
Winners and AARS Rose Winners