Rose Winterizing
the simple, lazy way

Those of us who live where the snow is deep and winter is cold

probably value our Roses more than the fortunate Rose gardeners who have no Rose winterizing problems. There is something in every gardener’s psyche that wants to try and grow things that are just beyond our climatic reach. Roses are no exception. We go to great lengths to try and make our Roses, perennials instead of annuals.

rose winnipeg parks

Plant Hardy Roses? The easiest way to do this is to grow winter hardy Roses and such things do exist. There are two lines of Canadian bred Roses that are quite delightful and very hardy. The Explorer series was developed at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa and the different varieties are named after various Canadian explorers. The Parkland series of Roses was developed at the Morden Manitoba Agriculture Research Station and they have a variety of names. Winnipeg Parks is a red flowered example.

I Want Hybrid T’s! Although these hardy Roses are wonderful plants, some of us still want to grow the fancy Hybrid Tea Roses and other less than hardy delights. The first step in getting them through a heavy winter is taken the day you plant them. Almost all of these Roses will be grafted onto a tougher rootstock. The bud union is that large bump near the soil line where the rootstock joins the scion, (the variety you want.)

planting roses

In colder climates, ignore the planting advice that probably came with the Rose and dig a deep hole so that the bud union can be at least 3 - 4 cm below the soil surface. The, usually, long piece of rootstock does not have to be vertical. I routinely make a wider hole rather than a really deep hole and lay the plant in at an angle.

rose hilled up A Little Late Dirt! Having planted the Rose in the cold weather fashion, Rose winterizing becomes a much easier job. Many years you might get away with simply ignoring them. I usually take a few quick precautions. A couple of shovelfuls of soil dumped onto the base of the plant will help more of the bottom of the canes survive. Keeping that soil tight to the canes, that it is supposed to protect, is the most important task in Rose winterizing.

Winter Pruning? Long canes moving in the wind will expand their opening in that soil. Pruning the canes to 40 - 50 cm will greatly reduce their wind movement and keep the soil tight around their base. Pruning carefully is not really required. Most of the cane sticking out of the soil is going to winter kill in any case and we will prune more carefully in the spring when they start to grow again. The object here, is just to quickly shorten the canes, to reduce the wind whip.

That’s the quick and lazy way of Rose winterizing for your more delicate Roses so that they have a reasonable chance of reappearing next spring.

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