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Winter rose care

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Roses may still blooming in warmer areas like Burlington, but winter's coming and they'll need some protection. And by the way, if they still have rose hips on them, don't cut them off, because those hips help the plant get hardier for winter. First you have to know how what roses to protect. If you have hybrid tea roses, florabundas, and grandifloras you do need to protect them. If you have rugosa roses, species, or modern landscape roses such as the Knockout roses, they don't need protection in winter.

Another thing you have to know is if the rose is grafted. Some roses will have a graft union on the stem near the roots. That's what you
want to protect, because if this union dies, then the roots will grow up. That's how you get that yellow rose that turned into a red rose. It's the rootstock rose that's blooming. 

The way to protect the graft union is to bury the plant in bark mulch. Now you don't want to use leaves, because they'll matt down too much and create a rot situation around the stem. Shredded bark mulch is nice because it's airy and all you have to do, around Thanksgiving time, is take a big bucket of it and dump it right on top of your rose to about one foot deep. Don't be particular about it. You want to do this after a few freezes, so the little mice and voles don't make this mulch pile their home. If they do, they can girdle the stems of your roses all winter.

You're not going to do any pruning this time of year so you can leave these canes sticking out. In the spring is when you prune them back,
depending on how far they've died back from the winter weather. Just cut back them back to the green/live growth.

By Charlie Nardozzi

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