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Protect Roses for the Winter

Protect Roses for Winter, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights November 2017.
Once your hybrid tea roses are dormant, cut them back to about 30 inches.

If you love your roses, make sure they are well protected this winter. The key to good protection is not to get into a hurry to do it. Wait until they are dormant.

How do you know? Well, most to all of the leaves should have fallen off the canes, and the canes themselves turn a bit off color. Temperatures should be in the 20's in a consistent pattern for several days. Doing too much, too early will cause them to be injured in winter, in spite of good intentions.

Cutting Them Back
Once they’re dormant, cut them back. Tea roses should be cut back to about 30 inches or so, while miniatures only slightly. Floribundas and multifloras should be thinned and cut back severely.

Protect Roses for the Winter, Acreage Insights for November 2017, the protective mulch in place by creating a structure to hold it in place.

Cover the rose canes with wood chips, corn cobs, sawdust, pine needles, or pine cones. You will need to use at least a bushel basket of materials for each rose bush. Keep applying the covering material periodically, as Midwestern winds tend to blow it away.

Keep the material in place as long as possible with a rose collar. You can buy a pre-made collar at the hardware store or garden center, or make one yourself. Look around your store room and find a large box. The box that your stereo speakers came in would work just fine. Open the bottom, slide it over the rose bush and then fill it up the wood chips. You can seal the top or not, depending how it looks to you.

Climbing Roses
Climbing roses need to be taken down off the trellis and thinned. Strive to keep about 4 to 5 of the strongest canes. Older, broken and diseased canes should be removed at ground level.

Dig a trench near the base of the canes and bend the remaining canes into the trench. Cover the canes with the covering materials for tea roses. Mound up the material to the same height as for tea roses.

In spring, carefully dig them up and reattach them to the trellises.

John Fech
John Fech
Extension Educator - Horticulture
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.

Contact John at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Road
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804

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