Winter Protection for Roses in Containers

Q. I found the column on care of winter roses to be very helpful, but I have one other question.  I have a roof garden in Washington DC and have had some beautiful rose topiaries this year.  What should I do to protect them through the winter-they are in pots.
Thank you very much.

A. In zone 6 you should give your rose topiaries in containers extra protection to help them survive the winter.  Severe cold, below 20 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time, as well as freeze and thaw cycles can damage the roots.  After the plant has gone dormant, if you can, move the container into a cool, but sheltered place such as a garage or unheated storage facility.  The idea here is to keep it cold enough to stay dormant.  And be sure to water just enough to keep the soil from drying out.

If moving the plant into a sheltered location is not possible, another option would be to cover the rose.  Build a wire cage slightly taller than the rose and larger than the pot’s diameter. Fill the cage with an insulating material such as straw or mulch.  Wrap or cover the exterior of the cage with a plastic cover to protect from drying, winter winds.  The cage should be anchored to the ground to prevent strong winds from toppling it over.  Check periodically that the container does not dry out.


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