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Overwintering Roses

Getting your roses ready for winter is like putting them to bed.

There is lots of controversy over cutting them back.

.. or not...

and when to hill them up.

Above, my roses are hit by an early frost,

turning the leaves white around the edges.  

It is a romantic and gorgeous time of year

.  BUT... it is still a bit early to hill up your roses.

It's best if the leaves have fallen off but sometimes, life gets in the way and we have to spend time in the garden while we can.

ROSE TREES need special care:



Many of you like clean and tidy gardens in the fall,

but let your garden stand... leave the seed heads for the birds and other stems so little ones can hide and shelter in storms

But....PLEASE DON'T....cut your roses back.

Don't deadhead after early October - (unless you want a few blooms for your bedside) - If you keep cutting the blooms, the rose thinks you want more flowers and sends energy to the tips instead of the roots which protect the rose in winter.

Leave the flowers to make rose hips.... for birds and colour but most importantly, it lets the rose go dormant and harden off for winter. 


Should be done in the Spring

- when the Forsythia blooms... . and if you don't have Forsythia where you garden, then when the garden begins to wake up.... the days are warmer and plants are coming out of dormancy (sleep). 

But back to Fall: some canes are long and lax and reach outside the bed to snag your sweater as you walk by.

Cut these back just enough the keep out of your way.

This also keeps canes from breaking and leaving an opening for disease or a place for orphaned insects to hide. 


 BEFORE YOU DO....remove all the fallen, dead rose leaves  that  may have Black Spot, or another fungal disease.  Otherwise, the spores will happily stay in the soil and be there, under the compost, ready to reappear in the Spring.

Hilling up roses for winter

- means taking soil (compost, preferably) and mounding it up over the bud union.  

If you live in an area with cold winters, (zones 5 and lower) you would have buried that bud union 3 to 4 inches below the surface ... (if not, when you hill up the roses, pile on another 6 to 8 inches of soil) . Otherwise, 4 to 5 inches will do.

You can mix all the soil from your pots with compost and use that. Just make sure the rose's root is protected from that destructive "freeze-thaw-freeze" cycle that happens in late fall and early spring.

There is also WIND-ROCK.... where the soil around the bud union is open and wind can move the plant back and forth leaving room for water to become ice and freeze the root.

Below, you can see the stems are still green but not the brilliant green of summer and the leaves have fallen.

Because I buried the bud union on these roses a few inches below the surface when I planted them, they are hilled up about 4 to 6 inches with compost.

Ice can get into the smallest places and split the tender stems and roots. If these branches were left too long, they could easily have split or broken under the weight of the ice.

Mulch over top of your hilled up soil. Cover the soil... mulch or leaves works well.

If your garden is open to wind, you could pound tall wooden stakes along the edge of the garden and attach burlap with either staples or tie with twine to the stakes, surrounding the garden and then fill up the space with leaves.

My neighbours have sugar maples whose leaves break down easily and I collect their bags and dump them all on the rose garden. 

Here are  roses buried in leaves and snow

-  between a hedge and a barricade of burlap.   

and the next summer.... 





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