Friday, October 1, 2010

Preparing Roses for Winter by Donna Duffy

It's October!  Ready or not, winter really will be here soon. Among all of your other fall garden chores, be sure to plan some time to get your roses “tucked in” and ready to brave whatever winter may bring. According to the Denver Rose Society’s publication “Growing Roses in Colorado,” there are five basic steps to remember.

FIRST – Pick up and discard all the leaves that have fallen from the rose bushes. This is especially important if you have had mildew and/or blackspot. You can repeat this step in another month or so, when the roses are truly dormant and more leaves have fallen. This simple sanitation practice will decrease the likelihood of having the problem recur next year.

Rose Hips

SECOND – You can stop deadheading your roses at this point. Some roses develop colorful hips after the last bloom, and you’ll miss them if take off all the spent blooms. In Colorado, it’s best to wait for Spring to do heavy pruning of roses. If you have some rose canes that are taller than 3’, you could top them off to prevent them from rocking in the wind or breaking off in heavy snow. Save any additional pruning for springtime.

THIRD – Water your roses well before the ground freezes. Watch the weather: if the temperature is likely to drop below 25 degrees, get the roses watered. Roots will suffer more from cold temperatures in dry soil than in damp soil.

FOURTH – Keep watching the temperature. When it drops to about 22 degrees in your yard for a few nights, it’s time to cover the crown area of each bush with a few shovels full of soil. Add mulch for additional protection. If you live in a windy area, you might use a rose collar to hold the mulch in place (purchase them at garden centers).

Rose Collar

FIFTH – Check the roses for moisture content every couple of weeks during late fall and winter. If the temperature will be 45 degrees or warmer for six hours, watering can be done. Dig down with your trowel for 4-6 inches to test the soil moisture.

AND IN THE SPRING…don’t be overly anxious to scrape off the mulch and prune the rose canes! Watch this blog for Spring pruning information.