Preparing your Roses for Winter

It’s not something that you want to think about, but winter will be here a lot sooner than we would like and now is the time to start thinking about getting your roses ready for winter.

  1. Do not prune your roses now. That should be done in the spring.
  2. Do not fertilize past the first week of September. You want the plant to put most of its energy into the roots, not producing flowers. 
  3. You need to protect the graft, so use added mulch or soil to do this. The graft should be at or just below the soil surface. I use leaves from my trees piled into my rose beds for mulch. The leaves  will need to be removed in the spring. You should start doing this about the last week of September.  Don’t try to use the soil around the rose bush as mulch. Moving it could expose or disturb the roots.
  4. Water, water, water! Keep watering until we are getting freezing temperatures several nights in a row. Most of the die back you find in the spring is from the plant losing moisture due to the cold winds. 
  5. When the temperature is around a steady 34°, you should broadcast your fall application of Grass Magic. This will give your roses a big boost in the spring when they start to come out of hibernation. I’ve used this product for the last 8 years and I have gotten great results. You can also use Grass Magic in your perennial beds and your lawn at the same time. 

Oh, and one last thing. Just a reminder…Do not use Styrofoam cones on your roses. On sunny days in the winter, those cones turn into little ovens that cause your rose to break dormancy. Then, when the thermometer plunges at night, major freeze damage happens. And Styrofoam isn’t very recyclable and it looks kind of weird.

Have a rose question? Larry can be reached at

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