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Covering for Winter

Cutting Blooms



Purchasing/Planting Uncovering

Covering for Winter

When should the roses be covered for the winter?

I try to wait as late into the fall as possible before covering my roses. 

Do we fertilize or water roses in the fall?

Usually stop fertilizing roses about the 1st of August. Continue watering the plants until the ground freezes unless we have adequate rainfall.

How do you protect your roses for winter?

As I just mentioned I wait as late as possible to cover them. I use bags of leaves to protect my roses for the winter. To reduce the mess of damp soggy leaves in the spring or blowing leaves all winter, I keep the leaves in the bags and pack the bags full of leaves around the rose plants.

How much do you cut the plants back?

I cut my roses back to about 12" from the ground. Just enough to cover the plants with bags of leaves.

Cutting Blooms

Is there any special method of removing rose blooms from rose plants?

Yes, the normal procedure is to cut the stem with bloom just above the first leaf with five leaflets. New plants are especially sensitive to leaf loss so take only short stems along with the blooms during the first year.

When is the best time to cut blooms?

Early morning or evening is the best time to remove rose blossoms. At that time of day the stems and petals are full of water. Select blooms with petals that are just starting to unfold. Use a sharp tool to cut the stem so you won't damage the lower stems. There should be at least 2 leaves on the stem below the cut.

How should the blooms be taken care of after cut?

Let them stand in room temperature water for several hours before arranging for display. To make the roses last longer indoors you can add a cut flower preservative to the water. Don't carelessly remove thorns and leaves. Peeling or tearing back the skin interferes with water uptake.


Is it necessary to fertilize roses?

Yes, especially if you want a lot of large blooms and vigorous plants.

What type of fertilizer is the best?

Any complete fertilizer which is relatively high in phosphorous but not too high in nitrogen makes a good rose food. Well rotted manure is also good but should be supplemented with a rose food.

When & what kind of fertilizer should be applied to roses?

Apply fertilizer right away in the spring and monthly until July 15, but no later. Use a fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or a rose food at the rate of 3# per 100 sq ft of bed or 1 heaping teaspoon/plant. Spread the fertilizer evenly around plants, scratch it into the soil and water. Follow directions on fertilizer containers.


What is the most common rose disease?

Roses are affected by quite a few different problems, but the most common is blackspot. It is a fungus disease which causes irregular black spots on the leaves. The affected leaves turn yellow and fall off.

What can be done to control blackspot?

Sanitation is the first step in control. Rake up and destroy all diseased and fallen leaves in the fall. If and when the blackspot symptoms appear begin spraying with a fungicide such as chlorothalonil (Daconil 2787 or Ortho Multi-purpose fungicide) or Funginex. Many of the rose dusts will also give good general disease and insect control.

What are some of the other rose problems?

Roses can also be affected by powdery mildew, rust and iron chlorosis. Aphids are probably the most common insect problem.

How is iron chlorosis treated?

Pretty much the same treatment as for any other plant. An iron supplement can be added to the soil or sprayed on the foliage.

Purchasing & Planting

Where should roses be planted?

Roses should have a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. A little shade in the heat of the afternoon helps prolong the blooms. They prefer a well drained fertile loamy soil.

Which is better to purchase, bare root or potted roses?

Bare root plants are cheaper than potted plants, but must be planted before long sprouts develop. Potted plants can be kept growing in the pot until ready to plant.

How should roses be planted?

The number one concern when planting roses is to be sure that the grafts are 1 - 2" below the normal soil surface. This is especially important because of the tenderness of roses and the harshness of out winters. After roses are planted, mound up loose soil to a height of 10-12" around the plant to protect stems from frost & drying. Rains and hoeing will gradually level the mound.


Isn't there a risk of the roses  being damaged in the spring if we get some seriously cold weather?

Yes, once the roses leaf out they are susceptible to being damaged by freezing temperatures. If that occurs, cover them again for the period of freezing temperatures.

Todd Weinmann, Extension Horticulturist & Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (701) 241-5707

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