Winter Tasks in the Rose Garden
Article by Barbara Kemp, Master Rosarian
As we approach the end of 2020, our roses experienced snow storms and a week of
freezing temperatures in the teens and single digits that froze beautiful foliage and fall
blooms. In order for your roses to give their best in the spring, some type of protection
may need to be applied going into winter. Our winter weather can be challenging particularly to hybrid teas, floribundas, first year roses, and some modern roses that require
additional covering. Established shrub roses and own root roses are often hardier and
will do well with minimal to no winterizing.
Now that Daylight Savings time ended November 1, the rose clock should be signaling
roses to get ready for dormancy (inactivity) with lower temperatures, less daylight, and
less water. If you leave the last flowers on the rose they will soon develop into rose hips
which will also alert your roses to begin dormancy during the winter months.
Although we should ease back on watering, check the soil and do not let the roots dry
out if no moisture is in the forecast. Try to water once a month when the temperature is
going to be at least 45 degrees for several hours.
Winterizing Roses with Soil, Pine Boughs, and Burlap:
Several types of winter protection (soil, pine boughs, and burlap) are used in my
gardens depending on the location of the rose, type of rose, and if they are new, less
• First, cleanup rose beds and dispose of debris; do not compost leaves as they may
• Pull back existing mulch and make a mound with new soil approximately 6 to 12
inches high around the base of the rose to ensure that the bud union is covered. Do
not use soil taken from around the base of the rose as it may expose and damage
delicate feeder roots. When the mound is completed, add new mulch over the soil;
do not pack soil or mulch as air and water will need to reach the root system.
• Strips of burlap or burlap bags can be used in various ways: to keep the mound of
soil in place, as a wind break around new and miniature roses, or to tie and cover rose canes to a trellis. Another
suggestion is to use RapiClip, a soft rubber covered wire, to wrap or tie around the canes attaching them to poles
or trellises to prevent canes from rocking during high winds.
• Pine boughs can also be added to keep soil in place and act as a wind break.
• When roses are fully dormant, you may cut back only longer canes on hybrid teas,
grandifloras, and floribundas by one-third to prevent snow breakage or wind rock
that can loosen canes and damage roots.
• Winterizing material should remain in place until spring, then gradually remove as
Other Tasks and Enjoyments:
• Sharpen and oil tools (pruners and loppers) and clean spray equipment;
• Check soil moisture levels; a moisture meter is a great device for this task and can
be purchased at a garden center;
• Enjoy snow days reading Growing Roses in Colorado, The American Rose
magazine, and your favorite rose catalogs; AND
• Enjoy the great online ARS webinars; if you are a CR, continuing education credit
may be available
Consulting Rosarian Tip November – December
Winter Tasks in the Rose Garden