Care of Roses in Winter?

In winter, it’s always good to have a few extra roses around your home. You don’t want them dying or wilting during the harsh winters here in India. So, it is better if you keep some extra roses for winter. If you are planning to plant a new rose bush, then it is best to start with one or two plants and add more later. But, if you already have a couple of roses at home, then there is no need to worry about keeping them alive in winter.

How do I Protect My Roses From Frost?

If you live in a cold climate, then it is very likely that you will get frost every now and then. Even though most of us love our roses in summer, but they are not so happy when the temperature drops down to -10 degrees Celsius or colder. Therefore, it is essential that you take steps to protect your roses from frost. Here are some suggestions:

Make sure that the bottom of your pots or pans doesn’t touch the ground. Even a 2-inch layer of mulch can help.

You can also wrap your pots with newspaper or bubble wrap to provide an extra barrier against the frost.

Always keep them away from cold air drafts or doors that lead outside.

If you use slatted wood to keep the soil loose, be sure they don’t touch the ground either. Even a few inches can make a difference during cold nights.

If you live in a warmer climate, then you can plant your rose plants right into the ground, but take care not to plant them too deep. The crown needs to be just above the ground level. Keep them away from cold air drafts and doors that lead outside. Keep your soil light and loose so that the roots can breathe.

You can also grow roses in large containers instead of planting them in the ground. This will protect them from deer as well as frost heaving.

How to Care for Roses in Winter?

Watering Roses:

Water your roses before the first frost. This will help the roots go into a semi-dormant state and reduce the chance of the plant getting frostbite. After that, don’t water your roses until spring. Your soil should be dry several inches deep. If you are in an area that tends to get snow cover, make sure that your pots don’t get buried under snow.

Fertilizing Roses:

Stop fertilizing your roses in mid or late summer. This will help the plant go into a semi-dormant state.

Pruning and Training Roses:

Your roses probably don’t require any pruning unless they are getting very leggy or out of control. It is better to prune them in early spring, before new growth starts. You can read more here: How to Prune Roses.

After a really cold winter, you may need to do some training on the stems. This involves removing any broken or damaged canes, then lightly tying the others to some twine that is strung between two stakes or small trellis. Make sure that the twine or stakes are high enough that they won’t get covered in snow.

Normally, it is better to let your roses bush out as much as they want and prune them in early spring. But, if you have a variety that blooms on last years canes (called Spur-type Roses), then you need to remove all the flower buds in fall to force it to send out new canes. There is more info on that here: Pruning Spur Type Roses in Fall.

How to Care for Roses in Spring?

Your roses should be ready to bloom in spring, and they should look perky and healthy after winter.

Watering Roses:

After the last frost has passed, water your roses deeply to moisten the soil down several inches. Keep a close eye on the moisture level in your area, and don’t hesitate to water if you see the soil beginning to dry out.

Fertilizing Roses:

Once your roses look lively again, it’s time to fertilize them. You can use a high-phosphorous fertilizer to give them a boost.

Pruning and Training Roses:

Your roses will have gotten pretty rambling during the winter. This is a good time to prune them back to shape them up. Cut away any dead wood, canes that are laying on the ground, or any other damaged parts. After you have finished shaping them, tie them to some stakes or a trellis to keep them upright and to encourage new growth.

How to Care for Roses in Summer?

Your roses should thrive during the summer, and hopefully give you a good blooming season.

Watering Roses:

Water your roses during long dry spells. A good 3 inches is best, but don’t over do it. If your soil becomes waterlogged, the roots will start to rot. It is very easy to kill a rose by watering it too much.

Fertilizing Roses:

Your roses should only need fertilizer every other time you Water them. Use a high-Phosphorous product and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pruning and Training Roses:

Check to see if your trellis or stakes are holding up the plant. If they have become weak, you may need to replace them. After the first few blooms open, gently remove the fading flowers, to encourage it to continue blooming.

How to Care for Roses in Fall?

Your roses will start to lose their leaves in the fall, but they should not be stripped completely of them. This will help the plant as it prepares for winter.

Watering Roses:

Hold off on watering, and let the soil dry out a bit. They don’t like wet feet going into winter, and wet soil invites pests and diseases. A good rule of thumb is don’t water if you can’t stick your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle and not feel moisture.

Fertilizing Roses:

Don’t feed your roses this season, as it will encourage new growth, and the plant will just have to spend precious energy to rip it out come springtime. It will have enough to do to rebuild its root system.

Pruning and Training Roses:

Your roses should be well-formed at this point, so you can finish removing any dead wood. After the first hard frost, cut the canes down to 5 or 6 inches above the soil. This will enable them to harden off for winter.

Sources & references used in this article:

Effect of seasonal variation and storage temperature on leaf chlorophyll fluorescence and vase life of cut roses by NE Pompodakis, LA Terry, DC Joyce… – Postharvest Biology and …, 2005 – Elsevier

Climate change effects on winter chill for tree crops with chilling requirements on the Arabian Peninsula by E Luedeling, J Gebauer, A Buerkert – Climatic Change, 2009 – Springer

Field evaluation of phenology and success of hardy, micro-propagated old shrub roses in northern Finland by H Pihlajaniemi, M Siuruainen, P Rautio… – … B-Soil and Plant …, 2005 – Taylor & Francis

Flower production and the accumulation and distribution of carbohydrates in different parts of Baccara rose plants as influenced by various pruning and pinching … by N Zieslin, A Hurwitz, AH Halevy – Journal of Horticultural Science, 1975 – Taylor & Francis

Influence of temperature on bud break, shoot growth, flower bud atrophy and winter production of glasshouse roses by GA Van den Berg – 1987 – library.wur.nl

Apparent competition or apparent mutualism? An analysis of the influence of rose bush strip management on aphid population in wheat field by I Frere, J Fabry, T Hance – Journal of Applied Entomology, 2007 – Wiley Online Library

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