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WINTERIZING YOUR ROSEBUSHES                             

Stan “The Roseman” Griep, Consulting Rosarian
Photograph Anne K Moore

*Tip #1*: Stop feeding rosebushes any granular type fertilizer by Labor Day. We want the rosebushes to get the message that it is time to store up strength for the winter and not focus so hard on growth and bloom production.

**Tip #2**: Stop deadheading the roses around the middle of September. I just pull the petals off the blooms that are done and scatter them about the gardens and leave the rest of the bloom on the bush. This, too, helps the rosebushes get the message that it is time to focus on storing up some energy rather than using so much on growth and bloom production.

***Tip #3***: Keep an eye on soils moisture throughout the winter as some light winter watering is usually needed to keep the bushes doing well for a great spring bounty of blooms.

****Tip #4****: Sometimes the winter snows melt and freeze cycles cause ice caps over the ground around the rosebushes. Thus, the needed moisture stops getting through. Sprinkling some Epsom salts lightly around the bases of the rosebushes will help make holes in the ice caps, thus allowing the moisture to flow through better. The Epsom salts will provide magnesium to the bushes, which helps them create new basal breaks in the spring.

Here is a checklist of sorts that I use once the rosebushes have gone dormant due to the cold weather conditions:

  • Clear all debris and old mulch away from the rosebushes. Place two or three tablespoons of Super Phosphate around each bush and work into the soils lightly. The super phosphate moves slowly through the soils and will help keep the roots strong through the winter.


  • Mound all rosebushes for winter protection. An easy way to do this is to place Rose Collars around the bases of the rosebushes you wish to protect. Fill each rose collar 2/3 of the way with the garden soil and very lightly water to settle the soils within the collars. Add a bit more soils due to settling. Top off with mulch, such as shredded cedar mulch. Water very lightly again to settle the mulch.
  • Prune Hybrid Tea and Grandiflora rosebushes down to half their current height. (The lower growing and bushy floribunda rosebushes, shrub and miniature rosebushes will need a bit of a thinning pruning at this time.) This pruning helps prevent cane damage such as; breaking off clear down to the base of the bush, or smashing down of the overall bush due to strong winter winds whipping them or heavy snow falls breaking them over or smashing them down due to the weight.


  • Once the leaves have dried out a bit, they may be stripped off the canes/bushes if so desired.
  • Mound up soils or soils mulch mix around the bases of climbing rosebushes and shrub rosebushes also, use rose collars, if desired, and follow above directions for fill. Wrap climbing rosebush canes with a light fabric (light colored too!) to protect from harsh cold winds if desired, climbing rosebushes on trellises against privacy type fences may not really need this protection.


Note: Garden Soils may be mixed with play sand to create a mounding soil that has better drainage capabilities. The play sand mixed in with the garden soils helps keep moisture flowing through the mounding soils and to the root zone, rather than holding it around the upper part of the bush where it may cause mold or fungus problems. See my “Winters Nap” article for more mounding information as I use different methods based on the rose bed the roses are in.

Stan V. Griep
ARS Certified Consulting Rosarian, Webmaster: The Colorado Rosarian, Green Cure Representative - CO
Member: American Rose Society, Member: Denver Rose Society, Member: Loveland Rose Society,
Honorary Member: The Rose Society of South Australia
Award Winning Rose Photographer, Rose Gardening Freelance Writer & Speaker
Visit The Colorado Rosarian Site:
Please Visit My On-Line Shop:

Posted September 13, 2013


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