I don't know about you, but I have a bad case of rose-envy. I love roses, but don't seem to have enough space in the landscape for them. If I could, I would fi ll my entire yard with hydrangea and roses, with a few red twig dogwoods, and ajuga and lambs ear ground covers. Ahhh, always a dream, right?
If you are really in love with roses, find some great deals because you still have a few weeks to keep planting them. You might be pushing it, but you can still tuck a few into your landscape before the first hard frost stops all planting for the rest of the year.
Take a look around at some of the roses that you have been babying throughout the season. If they are still suffering, you might want to use this time to give them their last rites and dig them up for the compost pile. Besides, it will open up a spot for a new one.
Start with basics
If you are looking to get the roses ready for winter, start with the basics. Get rid of all of the dead wood. If some stems are a few feet longer than the others, even them out by cutting them back to about 2 or 3 feet long. Cut the stems at an angle close to another set of leaves when making a pruning cut.
If you have hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas, most of your work will be done after the ground is frozen, and that will be closer to early December. Cut the stems down to 24 inches and no shorter.
If possible, try to remove your climbers from their trellis and tie them loosely together. If you can't get it off the trellis, take the whole trellis down to the ground. Once it is on the ground, cover the canes with about 4 inches of soil. Cover the base with 6 inches of composted manure and another 4 inches of soil. If taking it down is out of the question, cover it with a curtain of burlap to protect the leaves from drying out over the winter.
If you look closely at the base of your rose, you will see a big bump on the stem. That is the graft where the grower attached a pretty top plant on a sturdy root system. It is important to keep that graft protected. Covering that graft through the winter and protecting the canes can be done with mulch and manure instead of the old tradition of a plastic or insulated cone.
Ohio State University and Michigan State University rose scientists agree that you should kick the cone habit. Covering the base of your roses with about 6 inches of composted manure, then another 6 to 8 inches of soil is better for them. Then cover that mound with another 4 to 6-inch layer of leaf mulch or tree branches. The lighter mulch will help protect the canes.
To keep the mulch higher on the rose canes, surround it with a wire mesh cage to hold the mulch in place. This gives the rose the stable coverage like a cone, but better air circulation.
Remember, you want your roses to stay frozen. They will receive more damage from a sunny winter day under a cone because the sun actually causes heat to build up under the cone and will thaw them out.
Contact Kelly Heidbreder at firstname.lastname@example.org.