November Consulting Rosarian Tip

Winter Tasks in the Denver Metro Area

Article by Barbara Kemp, Master Rosarian

The 2021 fall season should be noted in our journals as the “best fall ever” with above normal temperatures and spectacular color in our rose gardens and with our trees. The warmer temperatures allowed roses in my garden to show colorful blooms later in the season.

I attribute beautiful blooms to a consistent and generous watering cycle throughout the summer months and watering roses individually. Now, I can sit back and ease them through dormancy or inactivity as lower temperatures set in with less daylight and less water. Leaving the last flowers on roses will allow for the development of rose hips, which is also a signal that they are getting ready for the winter months. Beautiful hips are appearing on a few of my roses

Be cognizant of weather conditions and water roses before a hard freeze, especially when temperatures will dip down to 25 degrees or lower: hydrated roots handle the cold better than dry roots. Check moisture content by using a water meter or dig down 2 to 3 inches to get a soil sample and press soil into a ball. If the soil feels damp, moisture level in the rose bed is adequate, but if soil crumbles, water is needed. Choose a watering day when temperatures are 45 degrees or above.

Add extra mulch around the crown area of young, tender roses, newly planted roses, hybrid teas, and floribundas to regulate conditions and keep temperatures at the crown constant. Established shrub roses, Old Garden Roses, and own root roses are hardier and will not need heavy winter coverings, especially roses grown in protected areas.

Winterizing Materials and Tasks:

  • Clean up rose beds before adding mulch or protective coverings, and discard debris in the trash.
  • For added winter protection, you can use rose collars or newspaper around the base of the rose filled with dry leaves or loose mulch.
  • If using soil to winterize, pull back existing mulch and make a mound with new soil approximately 6 to 12 inches high around the base of the rose. Soil should be taken from another area or use compost, not peat moss. Do not pack soil as the covering should be loose so that air and water can easily flow through to the root system. Strips of burlap can be wrapped around the soil to keep it in place.
  • Burlap bags or strips of burlap can be used in various ways: as mentioned above, to keep the mound of soil in place; used as a windbreak around new or miniature roses; or to tie and cover rose canes to a trellis.
  • Another option to keep soil or mulch in place is to add pine boughs.

• RapiClip®, a soft covered wire tie, is excellent to wrap canes to poles or trellises to prevent the canes from rocking during winter winds. Keep winter protection          in place until after the last freeze (usually in early to mid-May) and begin removing soil and/ or mulch a few inches at a time after that date.