Green Circle Growers Blog

Tucking Your Roses in for the Winter

Green Circle Growers - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Roses (Rose) are one of the most satisfying flowers to grow. Stunningly beautiful and wonderfully fragrant, these summer beauties must be adequately protected to make it through the cold winter months successfully. An end of summer pruning is all that’s needed to prepare hardy shrub roses for winter, but more delicate hybrid tea roses require a bit of TLC if you want to enjoy their colorful blooms again next year.


Follow these tips to tuck your tea roses in for the winter:

  1. Pruning and fertilizing should be stopped at the end of August to encourage rose bushes to go dormant. Stop removing spent flowers and allow final blooms to form seed pods, called rose hips. Seed formation signals the plant that the growing season has ended, triggering dormancy.
  2. After the first frost, give rose bushes a thorough soaking, then put your hose away until next spring.
  3. To prevent insects or disease, remove fallen leaves before composting. If you have had a problem with black spot, insect infestation or fungus, remove leaves completely from your yard to prevent reinfection. Do not compost infected leaves.
  4. After 2 or 3 hard freezes, build a 6 to 12-inch compost mound around the plant’s crown. To avoid damaging the plant’s roots or graft, bring in fresh dirt or compost; do not scrape dirt from the base of the plant. If you live where winters are mild, you can construct a wire cage around each rose plant and fill it with leaves or shredded mulch.

A note about climbing roses: Harsh winter winds can kill a climber’s long canes. Follow instructions 1 through 3 above. After frost, remove the canes from trellis, lay them on the ground and bundle them together, either tying or wrapping them inside a layer of insulating straw. Stake to the ground and cover with a layer of mulch.