Rose expert David Austin shares tips on winterizing your roses

Where ever your gardening zone is located, rose expert David Austin tips can insure a successful over wintering and new growth in the spring

David Austin Roses | Image courtesy of David Austin Roses

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2015 – As the weather starts to cool down, gardeners start thinking about putting this year’s plants to bed and protecting them over the winter. Michael Marriott, technical director and head rosarian with David Austin Roses, has a few tips to make sure your rosebushes survive this winter and many more to come.

“In zone 7b, (from the upper Eastern seaboard, Maryland to Massachusetts to New Mexico) you probably don’t need to do much for most roses, especially the shrub roses that include the David Austin English Rose that are hardy to zone 5 and some to zone 4.

Rose Expert David Austin | Courtesy David Austin Roses
Rose Expert David Austin | Courtesy David Austin Roses

The more tender roses, like the Noisette climbers and Tea Roses (not Hybrid Teas) are less winter hardy, but even they should be OK unless it is a cold winter. The only thing to do really is to stop dead-heading them.

The more you dead-head a rose, the more you will get young growth, which will be more susceptible to the cold. Don’t prune them at all unless there are some long straggly stems that are likely to get broken in the wind or heavy snow and if you do need to do that, then do it as late as possible so as not to encourage young growth. Of course, you should have stopped fertilizing it back in July or August.”

This is also a great time for a head start on next year’s rose garden, according to Marriott.

“The better a rose is growing, the better it will be the following year. Try to keep it as healthy as possible, whether by spraying with conventional fungicides or by applying foliar feeds. Diseases at this time of year, with the warm days and cool nights, can be a bit of a problem. Powdery mildew can be kept at bay by continuing to water, although be sure not to water the leaves later in the day, as this may well encourage blackspot. Feed and water roses well to encourage strong growth. Make sure they’re not overcrowded. Good pruning is essential and, apart from cutting the stems by about half way, taking out some of the oldest stems is very important, as it encourages new young growth that will be healthier and produce better quality flowers.”

“Look at the existing roses in the garden with a critical eye to assess whether they are worth keeping. If not, then dig them up now. By next spring you will have forgotten about them and more inclined to give them a second chance. Over winter is a good time to peruse the catalogs for replacement varieties.”

Instead of buying all new roses, consider taking cuttings of favorite roses.

“Now is a good time to take cuttings and root them. Cut stems of this year’s growth, making sections about 12 inches long, cutting off the top youngest section. Bury the stems by about half in a sheltered position and leave undisturbed until next fall or even the following spring.”

Those mini rosebushes that served as party decorations or hostess gifts this summer can survive until next spring, says Mr. Marriott.

“You can overwinter them, but it is quite difficult to keep them from becoming etiolated and aphid free. If they do, it is often best to cut them back hard. It is important to remember that the compost they are growing in will only have enough nutrients for a few weeks, so you would need to either liquid feed it on a regular basis or give it some granular fertilizer.”

Finally, the best thing you can do for your roses is not to obsess over them.

“In your zone, the best thing to do is as little as possible. Enjoy the late flowers, which can be even more beautiful at this time of year with the sun being less strong and when there is not much else flowering in the garden.”

The David Austin Roses website offers information for many zones and you can fine more information on the zones and types of roses specific to American and that will thrive there at the site.


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