Your website editor’s apologies. This article was sent to me in December but I’m just now getting it posted. My apologies for the delay. These are super tips for rose care all winter long.
At this time we have had our first freeze of the year. Your winter protection should be in place now! Winter protection is necessary now that we should be having freezing temperatures at night. Failing to winter protect may result in lost of some roses or make them slow to start in the spring. How much to protect is one of those “It depends” questions. If some of the rose bushes have grown overly tall and in danger of being blown over, they can be in danger of being blown over, they can be topped somewhat and should be staked. If the wind rocks the plant it will damage the root system. If some of your rose bushes have sunk too low and are no longer thriving, soon will be a good time to lift them. Go around the bush with a spading fork and gently lift up the roots while working soil under them. Stake to keep loosened bushes from being blown over, but do not prune.
Some rosarians say it is a good idea to strip the leaves after this operation. Water well once, then mist every day that it does not rain for the next week or so. Of course do not attempt this if the soil is frozen. Keep potted roses watered. Roses in beds will not need as much water as in the spring but do not let roses get too dry over a long period of time. You also need to take care of your tools so they will be ready to serve you next spring. Make sure all of the foreign matter is removed from your tools. Use steel wool to remove soil and anything else before covering with a light coat of oil. Sharpen all tools before putting them away and make a list of things needing to be replaced. It might be a good Christmas list! After the last spray of the season, run some hot water and white vinegar through your sprayer to clean away any spray residue. Lubricate the sprayer according to the manufactures directions. Store with the sprayer open to prevent condensation from occurring.
Store pesticides safely and protect from freezing. If you can not bring them into a heated area, use insulated storage containers and pack with insulating material. Keep them away from sunlight and safe from children and pets. Store fertilizer and rose amendments in a protected area where they will not be exposed to moisture. A spare trash can with a plastic bag inside makes a good storage container. Seal the plastic bag after putting in the contents. Keep the lid on. Mice love Mills Magic Mix, but it’s a bit expensive for mouse food! Clean up the storage/tool shed and put everything in its place so you will be ready to go when spring returns. It will be here sooner than you think!
Now is a good time to catch up on your reading. Go back through your American Rose magazines and see what you missed while you were busy this past year. Visit http://www.tulsarosesociety.org/ if you’d like to learn more about the Tulsa Rose Society.