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Winter Rose Care Tips

Martha Stewart Living, November 2004

In cold-winter regions, roses need a good drink of water, a thorough clean up, and a new warm dressing for winter. Thoroughly water the soil around the plants after the first frost but before the ground freezes. Cut off any dead or diseased canes, and remove leaves and weeds around each plant's base. In late fall, apply fresh compost, then mound about 6 to 10 inches of compost or soil around each plant's base to protect the crown and root system and to prevent heaving.

Climbing roses require extra steps in cold-winter areas: Remove the canes from their supports, lay them on the ground, and cover with mulch; then securely tie long canes so they won't whip around in winter winds.

To protect rose bushes grown at the edge of their hardiness range, mound a mix of 1 part sandy loam and 1 part compost 10 inches high around and over the bases of the bushes, and wrap the principal upright rose-bush canes in burlap. Apply both the mix and burlap in late fall when cold weather has settled in. In spring, when the roses' buds swell, remove the burlap and half of the mix; rake out the remaining mix for mulch.