Pacific Northwest

November, 2003
Regional Report

Prepare Roses for Winter

Late fall is a good time to prepare your roses for winter weather. Prune long canes back to about 2 feet to prevent them from whipping around in the wind. Cover the base of the plant, especially the graft, with an 8- to 10-inch mound of loose soil, compost, or peat moss. To prevent peat moss from blowing away, apply a small amount of soil on top, or cover the mound with evergreen boughs.

Protect Rose Canes From Icy Blasts

Winter winds can desiccate rose canes, and the resulting moisture loss can kill the canes. Even if the soil is moist, the plant will be unable to draw up enough moisture to replace what it's losing to evaporation. The problem is especially severe when the soil is frozen. In addition to using windbreaks around rose plantings, you can spray canes with an antidessicant spray in late fall.

Check Roses for Critter Damage

Field mice and voles may nest in heavy mulch surrounding rose bushes. Look for signs of chewed bark and damage to the canes. You can spray canes and the soil around the bush with hot pepper spray to serve as a repellent. If you can find the nesting site, pull the mulch away and destroy it.

Fertilize Indoor Miniatures

If you have miniature roses growing indoors, they'll perform best with a constant diet of nutrients. Use a water-soluble fertilizer as directed on the label. Apply to moistened, not dry, potting soil. Discard excess liquid that accumulates in the drainage saucer.

Watch for Aphids

Miniature roses indoors can be attacked by aphids. These pests tend to cluster on tender growth at the tips of stems and flower buds. Pinch off infested portions, and discard in the trash. You also can wash aphids off the plants with tepid water from the faucet. Repeat as often as necessary.

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