Roses -- Winter Protection
The whole practice of winter protection is not to prevent the cold from reaching the plants, but to keep them cold. More rose injury occurs due to freezing and thawing and heaving action throughout the winter than severe cold temperatures.
One of the best protection methods is to cut canes (stems) back to three (3) feet high around Thanksgiving. The soil should be frozen; plants need to be in a dormant state before protection is applied.
Rake up and collect fallen leaves. Remove old mulch and compost or dispose. Spray plants one final time with a rose fungicide or lime sulfur spray, making sure to spray all canes and the base of the plant.
Tie canes with old nylon stockings or soft twine to prevent canes from whipping in the wind during the winter. Plants shorter than two and a half (2 1/2) feet should not be cut.
Water plants thoroughly unless soil is moist. Add a foot of soil down the center of the plant. This should cover the bud or graft union. The soil must be brought in from some other location; DO NOT rake the soil from around the plant. The vegetable garden is a good location; the soil can then be returned to the garden in the spring. Wood or bark chips can also be used as well as old sawdust. Top the chips and sawdust with evergreen boughs to hold in place. However, soil provides the best protection.
Oak leaves can also be used as they are the only leaves that tend NOT to mat down. Top with evergreen boughs to hold in place.
Rose cones can be used. Like regular winter protection, their purpose is to keep the plant cold and limit freezing and thawing. Rose canes should be cut to fit comfortably beneath the cones. Four to six inches of soil is still added down the center of the plant. Place a brick or two on top of the cone to anchor it in place. Finally, poke a couple of holes in the cone at the top to promote ventilation. Three (3) nail holes should be sufficient size.
Remove winter protection in the spring when the ground has thawed and new buds emerge.
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