Winter Protection For Rose Bushes: Preparing Roses For Winter

Rose Bush Covered In Snow
winter roses
(Image credit: Jason Taellious)

The best way to avoid having your roses die in the winter is prevention. With proper planting and preparation, overwintering rose bushes can be accomplished with ease. Keep reading to learn more about preparing roses for winter.

How to Prepare Roses for Winter

Plant cold-hardy roses -- the shop where you purchase bushes can help advise you on which roses to buy -- or plant own-root roses. These roses grow back from the roots fairly quickly, even if the plant dies.

In the fall, cut down on nitrogen fertilizers and switch to a non-nitrogen brand or cut it all out. Doing so helps your roses to harden and gives them a better chance of surviving the winter.

Another way to help this process is to stop deadheading in about September to ensure that your plant develops rose hips. You want rose hips to stay on the plant because they help to slow growth and prepare the plant for the winter ahead.

If disease is of special concern, be sure to clean the rose bed and protect the crown of the rose. You can choose from a couple of methods. Cover the bed with at least a foot (0.5 m.) deep of tree leaves. Oak, maple, or any hardwood tree is particularly good, as those species drain well and the size of the leaves provides good coverage for the crown.

Another alternative is straw or a mound made with mulch. If neither of these options is available, use soil of a similar type to the soil surrounding the plant to protect the crown of your rose bush in winter. Make sure to cover it after most of the season's growth has stopped -- after most of the roses you wanted to cut are rose hips - but before it gets cold.

In most places, your roses should be covered no later than November 1st. Remember, covering too early or too late can have an adverse effect on your roses in winter. Winter protection for roses comes with adequate preparation and care during cold weather.