It’s the time of year in Cleveland and Columbus when we prepare our lawn and landscaping for the upcoming winter months. If your landscaping has rose bushes in it, there are some important steps that you must take to get them ready for the upcoming winter season. Failure to get your roses ready for the upcoming winter weather can leave them vulnerable to disease, injury, or even death.
- It’s “Hip” to Let Your Roses Finish Flowering
As the cool fall nights become increasingly colder, you’ll start to notice those beautiful flowers wilting. These flowers will eventually give way to seed pods, which in the rose world, are called “hips.” It’s important that you let your flowers turn into hips, because the plant is becoming harder, preparing itself for the upcoming winter. Removing wilting flowers this late in the season can confuse your roses and stop this hardening process.
- Remove any Insect or Fungus Damage
Leaves that show insect and/or fungus damage should be removed during the wintering process. Leaves that have fungus, such as black spot, can be problematic for the plant, spreading to unaffected leaves the following spring. Additionally, leaves that are affected can leave the plant vulnerable to cold temperatures, causing serious injury or death to the plant.
- DO NOT CUT THE PLANT BACK!
One of the most common mistakes is to trim your roses back in the fall. This can severely injure, if not kill your roses. The best course of action is not to trim your plants, with the exception of an overgrown branch or two. The other exception, as in step 2, is to cut diseased leaves and branches off.
- Bury the Base of Your Plant
You’ll want to finally bury the base of your plant, approximately one foot of mulch over the “bud union”, which is the knobby area that the canes begin at. As for material for burying your rose bush, the best material to use is a non-dyed mulch mixture. Some people recommend soil, however we do not because soil can retain moisture that can freeze and thaw multiple times. This process could harm rose bushes, and cause damage to the canes of the plant.
- Evaluate Your Need for a Spring Dormant Oil Treatment
While spring may be a ways off, fall is a good time to check the overall health of the plant and it’s susceptibility to insect problems for the coming spring. Heavy insect damage, and other tell-tale signs of insect activity are a sign that your roses may need a spring dormant oil application next March. This treatment helps smother insect larvae and eggs, preventing insects from eating your roses early next spring.
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