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Winterizing Roses

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Winterizing Roses

Take steps in fall to protect your roses from winter cold damage. Here's how to employ the "Minnesota Tip" method, which uses earth as an insulator.

8 Steps

  1. Water thoroughly
  2. Tie the stems together
  3. Dig a trench
  4. Remove soil from base of the plant
  5. Gently tip the plant
  1. Cover your rose plant with soil
  2. The following spring
  3. Other methods
Show all steps »

Step 1

Water thoroughly

You're actually going to tip your rose plant over and bury it in the ground until spring. The first thing that you'll need to do is to water thoroughly for a few days to keep the plant pliable and soil soft. The day before you plan to bury your rose, apply a dormant spray to prevent pests from overwintering. Do not prune your rose plant at this time. Wounds won't heal properly late in the season.

Tie the stems together

Step 2

Tie the stems together

Gently tie the stems of your rose plant together to make a neat, upright package. Wrap plastic twine around the plant, starting at the bottom and working up. Cut the string, leaving an extra foot at the top.

Dig a trench

Step 3

Dig a trench

Dig a trench in the soil beside your rose plant. The trench should start at the base of the plant. Make it long and wide enough to hold the entire plant when you tip it over into the trench. Dig the trench deep enough for you to place the plant into it and add 2 or 3 inches of soil to cover it without forming a mound. When your rose is buried, the soil covering it should be level or nearly level with the rest of the soil in the bed.

Step 4

Remove soil from base of the plant

Carefully remove soil from the base of the plant, exposing the very tops of the roots. Loosen soil around roots by hand. It isn't necessary to expose all the roots; your goal is to loosen them just enough to be able to tip the plant over without forcing it. It's OK to cut a few minor roots.

Gently tip the plant

Step 5

Gently tip the plant

Gently tip the plant into the trench by using a spading fork to push it over. Some of the roots might protrude from the soil after the plant is laid in the trench.

Cover your rose plant with soil

Step 6

Cover your rose plant with soil

Cover the entire rose plant with a 2 to 3-inch-thick layer of rich garden soil, leaving the extra plastic twine protruding from the surface. You'll use this plastic twine next spring to locate your plant to uncover it. Don't skimp on soil; if you don't have enough left over from digging the trench, add bagged topsoil or dig some more soil from another planting bed. Make sure that all roots are well covered with soil. Finally, add a layer of mulch to form a pile that's about a foot and a half deep. Hay or leaves can do this job.

Step 7

The following spring

After the last frost the following spring, begin uncovering your buried rose plant in stages. First, remove the pile of mulch. Gradually remove soil as it thaws to expose the plant over about a 15-day period, completing the process by mid-April. Gently raise the uncovered plant to an upright position and press soil around roots as needed to anchor it, but avoid piling soil around the stem. Spray the entire plant with water several times to keep canes hydrated. Apply a combination fungicide and insecticide that lists roses on the label; follow product directions for application rates and methods, safety, and clean-up. Water your rose plant regularly to help it adjust to exposure to light and air after months spent underground.

Other methods
Other methods

Step 8

Other methods

Other methods take less work, but they don't insulate plants as well and can attract rodents seeking winter nests. Chicken wire can be fashioned to make cages around rose plants. Fill cages completely with hay or leaves, making sure the tops of plants are well covered. Rose cones cover plants with a plastic foam igloo to block bitter winter winds. Always anchor rose cones with bricks or rocks to keep them from blowing away. Mulch the base of plants before covering with cones.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Beginner

Time: 1 hour

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.

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