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Stan V. Griep, ARS Certified Consulting Rosarian
Photographs Stan V. Griep (rose) & Anne K. Moore (snow)

Snow, along with fallen leaves, is nature’s means of protecting the plants and our rosebushes from extreme cold. Snow is light and full of air thus it insulates well and forms excellent natural mulch. Yes indeed snow is actually considered one of the best mulches for winter protection.

Many cold climate gardeners will shovel snow onto exposed plants as an insulating layer of protection. Be careful adding the extra snow to your rosebushes and plant areas, though. Shaking the snow onto the rosebushes is best as it acts more like the true fallen snow thus maintaining some of the air content.

Dumping the snow onto rosebushes or other plants actually packs the snow, thus removing some of the air within it, thus decreasing the protecting insulating values. The same is true of blowing snow onto the rosebushes or plants, as this method tends to pack the snow and remove its natural air content. A natural thick snowfall is the optimum form of “Snow Mulch”. When snow remains on the ground for sufficient periods, ambient ground temperature starts to thaw the frost layer already in the ground, hastening the thaw-out process in spring.

In studies conducted in Canada and the northern United States, the thick and continuous snow cover was found to be a very good natural insulating material and prevented soil temperatures that could be fatal to the plants and turf grass. One problem with the thick snow cover was that the constant temperatures maintained beneath the cover were also favorable for snow mold diseases. The studies further emphasized the need for the application of a fungicide prior to any application of protecting or insulating materials, thus a late application of a fungicide before mulching our rosebushes for winter will provide benefits.

More “Snow” Information:
Experiments carried out in the Siberian Botanical Garden showed that cucumbers and radishes, watered with melted snow, grew twice as fast as the control plants watered with ordinary water. Similar results occurred in experiments with wheat.
Why is melted snow better for plants than ordinary water?
Snow contains about 40 percent less heavy water or deuterium oxide than normal water. Deuterium (symbol of D) is a heavy isotope, a form of hydrogen, but slightly different. When combined with oxygen it does not form the water molecule, H2O; instead the molecule D2O is formed. Normally, about one water molecule in every 6,000 is found to be a heavy water molecule. But somehow the formation of snow removes many of these heavy water molecules.
Scientists have discovered that D2O slows down some chemical and biological processes. Thus, when heavy water molecules are removed, plants seem to grow faster.
Stan V. Griep is an ARS Certified Consulting Rosarian, a Colorado Native Rosarian (40+ years), Denver Rose Society Member, Loveland Rose Society Member, and American Rose Society Member. To see some of Stan’s beautiful rose photos, visit his website The Colorado Rosarian:

Stan is also an Honorary Member of The Rose Society of South Australia, an Award Winning Rose Photographer, and a Rose Gardening Writer & Speaker. His On-Line Shop:

Posted November 21, 2012

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