Northern & Central Midwest

October, 2003
Regional Report

Protect Those Roses, Just Not Yet!

If you do have hybrid tea roses or other grafted roses, you must protect them over winter. However, don't do anything until the temperature drops to about 20 degrees! Plants must be dormant and the soil almost frozen. You can start gathering a mix of loose soil and compost to heap around the crowns of the plants when the time comes.

Use Rose Cones, If You Must

Foam rose cones have been shown to be of little use in protecting roses. If you must use them, you still need to pile soil around the base of the plant. Anchor the cone with a brick, and punch holes in the top of the cone for ventilation. If the cone is not ventilated, the sun can raise the temperature inside and cause the plant to break dormancy.

Water Your Roses Throughout Fall

Keep roses watered until the ground freezes. Even when the plants begin to look a bit forlorn, their roots are still active and need water. Ample fall watering keeps the stems turgid and may prevent some winter damage. Water deeply once a week.

Enjoy Rose Blossoms into Indian Summer

If you've not had a first frost and your roses are still blooming, be sure to keep covers handy. Drape plastic or soft fabric over the bush to protect the blossoms. Remay works well. If you use plastic, try not to let it touch the blossoms to avoid damage.

Prune Shrub Roses

To keep shrub roses in a shrubby shape, prune later in the month. Take out all dead wood and cut the outside shoots to ground level. This encourages new shoots that keep the plant blooming all the way to the base.

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