How to Prepare Your Roses for Winter

Updated on January 25, 2019
Titia profile image

Titia is interested in photography, poetry, family, art, dogs, cats, insects, wildlife, history, war, camping, writing, and the environment.

How to prepare roses for winter
How to prepare roses for winter | Source

Protecting Your Roses for Cold Weather

The sort of protection your roses need depends on the climate you live in and how harsh your winters get. In the Netherlands, for instance, we normally don't have very harsh winters, but once in a while we do get temperatures of -10C (14F) and lower.
Some roses are vulnerable and need a bit of help to survive the low temperatures of winter. I'll show you some protection methods along with my own experience.


Snow Will Protect Your Roses from Freezing

Snow itself is not bad for your garden. Covered in a thick layer of snow, the frost can't get to the plant. The biggest danger for your roses however is frost without snow. Where I live we hardly have winters with enough snow to cover the plants, but sometimes we do get some more. I know it's still nothing in comparison with the snowfall in the USA and other countries.

Snow in the Garden
Snow in the Garden | Source
Frost can kill your roses
Frost can kill your roses | Source

Most Vulnerable Spot of the Rose Is the Graft

Most of the roses you buy are engrafted on wild roots, and the graft, which is sitting just above or below the surface of the ground, is most vulnerable spot in winter. A good method is to cover the base of the rose with a rather thick layer of soil, dead leaves, compost, or other mulching material.

Best time to start preparing your garden for winter is in the late Fall season when the leaves have fallen and deep frost is not yet there. A few degrees minus zero wouldn't harm your plants, but a longer time of deep frost certainly will damage them.


Trimming Roses Before Winter

Don't trim your roses too short before winter. When you trim all the stems of (old) rose bushes too close to the ground, the plant might not survive. It would have to produce too much energy in spring to form healthy stems again. Oh sure, stems will grow, but they might be thin and not strong or healthy enough.

My Experience:

I used to do nothing to protect my roses from freezing other than leaving the leaves where they'd fallen. But in January, 2011, the temperature was way too high—+7C (45F)—and a lot of my 200 roses started to sprout already, thinking spring had come early. One night, the temperature dropped to -18C (-0.4F), and about 2/3 of all my roses died. All the bushes and stems turned black. It was a devastating sight, and I couldn't bring myself to take photos.

I trimmed all the dead roses' way back to the ground and waited for spring to see what would happen. Some roses produced new stems, but they were thin and not quite strong, and they didn't survive the next winter.

The climbing rose Mme. Legras du St. Germain, which was covering an old apple tree, went black on all stems above ground. Her root didn't die and she started to grow again, but now 8 years later she's still only half of what she was before.

rose Mme. Legras du St. Germain
rose Mme. Legras du St. Germain | Source

Are You Preparing Your Roses for Winter?

See results

My Experience: Old Types of Roses Resist Cold Temperatures Better Than New Types

The interesting thing I learned after the severe winter cold of 2011 was that the 'old type' roses appeared to be the strongest and they survived. Among them were my David Austin Roses like the Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas, Gertrude Jekyll, and Winchester Cathedral. Also other 'old' roses survived that harsh winter and you should keep this fact in mind when you buy roses.

David Austin: Abraham Darby Rose
David Austin: Abraham Darby Rose | Source
David Austin: Winchester Cathedral Rose
David Austin: Winchester Cathedral Rose | Source

I've Become More Careful with My Roses Now

After the disaster of 2011 and 2012, I've become more careful with my remaining roses. I use a mixure of straw and hay to cover the earth around the roses, because I have lots of it when I clean out the stable after the sheep have had their lambs.

If you don't have access to straw, then the best thing is to buy a few bags of garden mulch at your local garden shop and use that. Make sure you cover the centre of the rose bush, too.

Mulching the roses with straw.
Mulching the roses with straw. | Source

Covering the Whole Rose Bush

Covering the whole rose bush is another method of protecting your roses for temperatures below zero. It can be done when your rose is not too big. I've never done that because I let my roses grow a bit wild so they're much too big to pack them in completely.

Winterizing a Standard Rose

Standard roses have to be protected against frost in a slightly different way, because their graft site sits way above the ground. For these standard roses, you can protect the graft spot by covering it up with agricultural fleece. One bit of advice: never use plastic, though, because plastic won't let the plant breathe, moisture will get inside, and your rose will freeze. I'm sure you can get the right material in any garden shop.

Don't Let the Night Frost Surprise You in Early Spring

When spring comes along, don't be too hasty to unpack your roses, because night frost can occur as late as mid May. You might uncover your standard rose during the day when the weather is nice, but be sure to cover it up again for the night for as long as there is a chance of night frost.

Have You Ever Lost Roses Due to Cold Weahter?

See results

I Leave My Garden at Rest in Winter

Well, one thing that I learned from past winters is that I have been too careless as far as it comes to my roses. There had never been the need to protect them from freezing. Where I live in The Netherlands, we hardly ever get temps as low as -18C. But I've learned my lesson. The remaining roses will be protected before the real frost comes.

I leave my garden to rest in the winter. I don't remove any of the fallen leaves, because they protect the plants that go underground in wintertime. My work starts in spring, when everything comes to life again.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Titia Geertman

    Are you a bit like me or are you a clean gardener

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • LauraHofman profile image

        Laura Hofman 

        5 years ago from Naperville, IL

        Love your photos! I'm more of a laid back gardener... I love roses too, but don't prune them too severely. My favorites are coral and yellow roses.

      • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

        Titia Geertman 

        5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

        @takkhisa: Mostly soft pink, soft yellow and white and a single red old fashioned smelling roses.

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 

        5 years ago

        Amazing photographs! I usually grow only pink roses, what about you? :)

      • RoadMonkey profile image

        RoadMonkey 

        5 years ago

        We used to grow roses. Like you, we do not generally have really cold winters but being by the sea, we have VERY strong winds and the roses have to be pruned in November, to prevent root rock. You have some really beautiful photographs of roses - so lovely!

      • Elsie Hagley profile image

        Elsie Hagley 

        5 years ago from New Zealand

        Very nice lens loved your photos. I am like you I do very little pruning of my roses, the winter is too harsh on them.

      • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

        Titia Geertman 

        5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

        @OhMe: Yeah, thanks, most of my roses were old single petal smelling ones. I didn't have many of the modern roses. Modern roses might flower year 'round, but they don't smell.

      • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

        Titia Geertman 

        5 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

        @Brite-Ideas: Normally I don't do anything in my garden in winter, only in spring. I hardly ever cut back my roses other than snap branches away where I don't want them.

      • OhMe profile image

        Nancy Tate Hellams 

        5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

        Beautiful photography of some very pretty roses.

      • Brite-Ideas profile image

        Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

        5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

        I've never fussed with my roses very much over the last 10 years and they've done pretty well - but I noticed they don't flower as long into the summer, so maybe I should prepare them better for our cold winters - by the way, beautiful photos :)

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)