Saturday, November 8, 2008

Winter Rose Care

If this doesn’t convince you winter’s on the way, you are either in a major state of denial or already in Florida. I’m staying close to home except for spending the afternoon at the MCC French movie festival. Seems like a good place to spend a cold, icky Saturday afternoon.
This is the time of year we get a lot of calls and questions about cleaning up the flower beds. Believe it or not, the garden has not yet gone fully dormant, so the short answer is don’t do anything! What a relief! I was out this morning looking at the roses I planted this summer. The climbing rose I bought to cover the chain link fence between me and neighbor Dave has grown at least 4 feet! The yellow rose has also grown and still has buds, one that is even starting to open.
Roses are a tough sell in our climate. The winter is pretty hard on them and just when they start to look great in the summer, the Japanese beetles get them. There are many varieties of roses that do well here in northern Illinois. The best roses for our region are the shrub roses. Though their flowers are not as large or fragrant, they are very floriforous, meaning they have many blossoms, and many are everblooming, meaning they will have flowers all the time. They are also very hardy in our area and don’t need a lot of maintenance.
That said, what should you do with your roses this time of year? You do need to provide some type of protection for the roses. This is not to keep the roses from freezing but rather to keep them from coming out of dormancy prematurely during those times when we get an early warm up and then a deep freeze. If you have grafted roses, which would be most of your hybrid tea, floribunda or grandiflora roses, you can use rose collars to protect the root graft. This is a plastic collar that fits around the base of the rose and is then backfilled with compost, blackdirt or garden soil. The benefits to using the rose collars as opposed to rose cones, is that you can do it earlier in the fall and you don’t have to prune the roses to make them fit under the cone.
If you opt for rose cones, wait until late December when the roses are fully dormant, then prune them back to about 16"-18" or enough to fit under the rose cone. Some cones come with a removable top. On days when the sun is out, the temperature under the cone can rise to the point where the rose starts to come out of dormancy and begins to transpire and produce moisture in the cone. This can lead to disease problems later on. On warm sunny days remove the top or the entire cone to allow the moisture to escape. Be sure to remove the cone for good in early spring.

No comments: