Winter Protection

Outline- David Candler


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Winter Protection – An outline

       Dave Candler, CR

Why do winter protection?

  • Prevent frost-heave of roots
  • Keep roses dormant
  • Prevent premature leafing out
  • Clean up and prevent insect and disease problems

Methods for Connecticut/ New England:

            Preliminary- Getting the plants ready

                        Water well, if nature has not- nature has been adequate for the 10 years prior to 2006
                        Remove fallen diseased leaves to another place- not the compost pile
                        Keep up disease spray programs through October
                        Cut nice flowers for the house, but Don’t deadhead after mid September- let hips develop, telling the plant to go dormant

            When- around Thanksgiving.  Err to later.

            Where- This is the focal point- the bud union.  Simply stated, for hybrid teas, strive for 8-12” of soil covering the Bud Union, floribundas and climbers 6-10”, miniatures and shrubs are usually on their own roots, and they can receive less attention

 Types of mulch-
                         Consider collars and cages – these corral the mulch and save work.
                         Soil- from another part of the garden (especially if roses are too close together)
                         Leaves- the question of Oak Leaves and Ground Up- using “Only Chopped Oak Leaves”, as the frequently passed on philosophy is incorrect.  Oak leaves are useful because they are cupped and stiff, making a good air-filled volume (air is a Good insulator).  Other non-chopped leaves may tend to mat flat, especially when they get wet- and they Will Get Wet (water is a Great conductor, but a terrible insulator).  If not chopped, leaves blow away.  When chopped, the result defeats the purpose of Oak.  When the scenario started, rosarians built collars and raked whole leaves into them.  Current practice is to often chop the leaves (e.g. riding mower with a catcher) and dump the chopped result on the plants.  This works, to a point, but after chopping/mowing the importance of the type of tree diminishes.  It is fast, and easy, and if you have a riding mower, and can’t do soil for all your roses, Do It.  Note: one issue is that leaves fall and are mower up in October.  This is a bit early.  But will work fine, since the insulation is not the same as soil (done later).

                        Don’t forget rodent poison (voles) if you use leaves instead of soil (put down, in small poly tubes, before the leaves)
                        Compost- can be used, but is less of an insulator (because there is less air).
                        Snow- see Darwinian Sort below

                 Special Circumstances-
                        Container-grown roses.  PLANT THEM (best done when really dormant- November in CT usually is ok)
                            Unheated garage
                            Do not over-winter as houseplants
                        Tree roses (standards)- much additional work- contact a CR, if you need to try to protect these.  There is an excellent article on protecting tree roses written by John Shelley on the website.
                        Rose Cones- don’t use, unless…  there is a much longer discussion about these.  Call a CR or Dave Candler for all the details of how to use these without threatening your plants.  There is a threat of  'cooking' roses beneath if these are not used properly and removed when a long warm spell occurs.
                        IF You are an extremely lucky person and rely on that (luck) rather than skill, and knowledge- then you can Go For It, but beware...

        Some methods in other areas:

            Minnesota Tip- you dig up ½ the roots on one side of the plant, allowing bending the whole plant to the ground on the opposite side.  Cover all the plant with lots of soil.

            Michigan- tend to do things later than in CT, and dormant oil sprays are recommended, which due to the care needed for timing and application are not recommended by CRs in CT

            Wisconsin Pit-– dig a hole 6’ deep, dig up all your roses, put in hole, cover hole with plywood and then cover that with soil.  Dig all up in late March and replant roses in March/April.

            Canada Blanket- Montreal Rose Garden-  use hi-tech insulating blankets to cover all roses.

            Darwinian Sort- hope for snow, and if a cold winter, and little snow, allow “Survival of the Fittest” – note: this is Far Less Work, but is costly in the early years.  It teaches the rosarian that purchasing Very Hardy roses to begin with is desirable and cost effective.  It also teaches of the whimsical variances (standard deviations, too) of Mother Nature’s winters.  You must either be very careful of the (read: hardy) plants you buy, or be prepared for loss.  This is not a Bad plan, if it is part of a Plan.  For example, if you lean toward shrubs, miniatures, and some floribundas it can work, most of the time.  A very cold winter can be costly (e.g. Jan. 2004, Jan 2005).  You will need to replace some plants- especially HT’s.   I recommend against Hoping, especially if you have less than 30 or so HT’s.

And if you are a Budding Rosarian, Call A Consulting Rosarian! if you have further questions.
    They are listed on in the Rose Culture Section






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