Tag: roses

Protecting Roses in Winter

This is the first year I have grown roses and they have done very well. Remembering how cold it got last year, I was wondering how to best protect my rose bushes throughout the cold winter months. Can you help me?

I have had several questions coming in from various places around the country asking about winter rose care. Most roses can withstand a quick cold snap of temperatures down to 10 degrees F, but it is best to protect them if you expect an extended period of time when temperatures dip under 20 degrees F. The amount of protection your roses need depends on the climate in which you live.

 In the northern areas of the country in Zone 4, which includes states such as South Dakota, northern Maine, Vermont, Northern Iowa, and Minnesota, winter rose care begins after the first hard frost, usually around mid-October and if possible, before the first snowfall.

 The first step in protecting bush-type roses, such as hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras is to loosely tie the canes together to keep them from whipping around in the wind. Then cover the base of the plant with 12 inches of soil. Straw or leaves can be placed over the soil mound for additional insulation.

 If you prefer to use styrofoam rose cones, prune the bushes back so the cone will fit over the plant. Before you cover the bush, mound several inches of soil around the base of the canes then place the cone over the rose. To keep the cone in place, mound soil around the outer base.

 To protect climbing roses, remove the canes from their support, and carefully bend them to the ground. Hold the canes in place with pegs or stakes and cover with several inches of soil. This should be done after the roses go dormant and have been exposed to two or three hard freezes.

 Depending on spring weather conditions, remove protective materials before the buds break open, normally in late March to mid-April.

 In states such as Ohio, Indiana, New York, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, designated Zone 5 or 6, since the winters are not as severe, you can protect your roses as mentioned above or simply pile protective material around the base of the plants. Another option is to create a chicken wire cage filled with leaves around the base. Your main concern is protecting your roses from extended periods of weather below 20 degrees, winter winds, and fluctuating temperatures.

 For states in Zone 7 and 8 such as Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, the biggest danger to roses is when temperatures rise and fall causing the ground to freeze and thaw. This often results in frost heaving of the roots from the ground. To prevent that from happening, mound at least 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the rose. To avoid attracting rodents and insects, keep the mulch away from the trunk of the plant.




Miniature Roses Indoors

I have a miniature rose in a container that I would like to keep indoors over the winter. Need to know how to do that. Thanks.

When growing miniature roses outdoors give them the same care you would any other rose and you will find them quite easy to maintain. However, if you are growing them indoors it is a little more difficult.

Roses require 6 hours of sunlight a day so place your miniatures in a south facing window. If you do not have a south facing window you will need to use a grow light 12 to 16 hours a day.

The roses should be kept consistently moist in the summer and when it is hot and dry you may need to water as much as once a day. In the winter you can cut back your watering to once a week.

Miniature roses like a day time temperature of 65 to 75 degrees and a little cooler at night.

One last tip is to plant your minis in a glazed terra cotta pot. Unglazed pots allow air to reach roots through the walls. This causes the feeder roots to dry out.

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.


Rose Hips

Who says the garden is only beautiful when flowers are in bloom? Interesting barks, vibrant berries, dried seedpods and evergreen foliage all add a sparkle to the grays and browns that dominate the landscape during winter.

One of the more interesting sights to emerge as fall transitions into winter are rose hips, the colorful fruit that many varieties of shrub roses produce in the fall.

My ‘White Dawn’ rose produced unusually large hips this year, about the size of a crabapple. They are a bright orange-red and hang in clusters like cherries.

If you cut a rose hip open you will see the tiny rose seeds stored inside. This is the way the wild roses reproduce and distribute themselves. You can also cross pollinate certain roses in your garden and grow their offspring from seeds found in the resulting rose hips.

To have rose hips in your garden in winter it is important to stop deadheading spent flowers on repeat blooming varieties around August. The petals will fall away and the hips will soon begin to develop. Before you know it you will have enough beautiful rose hips for both you and the birds to enjoy!

Here is a list of a few roses that produce hips:

  • Ballerina
  • Frau Karl Druschki
  • Iceberg
  • Mutabilis
  • Old Blush
  • R. banksia lutescens
  • R. blanda (Meadow Rose)
  • R. rugosa
  • R. virginiana (Virginia Rose)
  • Russell’s Cottage
  • Seven Sisters

Rose Cuttings

I can’t imagine my garden without roses, their fragrance and beauty is hard to beat. You know I grow over 30 different varieties of roses in my garden and I’m often asked, "How do you take care of them all?" Well, I think it all starts with the varieties you choose. You see some rose varieties are just easier to care for than others.

Many of the roses I grow are old-fashioned shrub roses. You can find these old-fashioned roses from a variety of sources these days but in the past they were actually handed from one gardener to the next from stem cuttings.

The ideal time to make stem cuttings is later in the summer once the flowers have faded and the new growth has matured just a bit.

Begin by selecting just the right stems. Choose stems that are just under the diameter of a pencil. Make your cut at an angle just above a leaf node. Be sure the cutting is at least 4 to 5 inches long and has a couple sets of leaves.

Steps for propagating roses from cuttings.

With your cuttings in hand, you’ll want to treat them just as you would fresh cut flowers, and get them in water immediately before moving to the next step.

Pour planting medium into small containers. I often use 4" nursery pots recycled from earlier purchases. Moisten the planting medium and create planting holes where the cuttings will be placed by poking the soil with a pencil or a twig. To encourage roots to develop, stick the ends of the cuttings into a rooting powder or growing hormone (available in garden centers) before putting them into the holes in the planting medium. Gently firm the soil around the cuttings.

Set the planted cuttings in a location where they will receive bright, indirect light and keep them consistently moist. Root systems should develop in 3 to 6 weeks. Once they are rooted, they can be transplanted into larger pots or directly into the garden.

Pruning Roses

Depending on your disposition, pruning roses can be seen as either the final task of winter or the first activity of spring. Either way, roses should be pruned just before they come out of dormancy and put out new growth.

In most regions of the country mid to late February is the ideal time to shape up your plants, even if you live in a mild area where roses never go dormant. If you live in a cold climate, pruning should be done when you remove winter protection and the danger of a hard freeze has passed, which may be as late as April in very cold zones. Check with your local cooperative extension or fellow gardeners for the dates they recommend.

Roses come in many forms, but whether you are growing a hybrid tea or an old fashioned climber, pruning is basically the same for each type. The hardest part is making the first cut. Here is a set of guidelines to follow that will help ensure beautiful blooms this spring.

Why Prune?
Hybrid Tea Rose
Pruning promotes healthy, vigorous stem growth. If you stop to think about it, it just makes sense. Stronger stems result in larger blooms, while spindly growth will produce smaller roses.

Pruning removes dead, frost damaged and diseased wood, which lays the groundwork for a healthy growing season.

Pruning opens the center of the plant, promoting good air circulation, which is essential for healthy roses.

Pruning helps maintain an attractive and well-balanced shape to the plant.

In warm climate gardens, pruning creates a period of forced dormancy so your roses can rest before the growing season gets into full swing.


  • Sharp Hand Pruners – For a clean cut select the bypass/scissor type and not anvil pruners. Anvil pruners are better suited for cutting back dead branches and stems.
  • Long Handled Loppers
  • Pruning Saw
  • Heavy Gloves – Don’t skimp on the gloves. One nasty tangle with a thorny cane can bring a swift end to your love affair with roses.
  • White Glue – Glue that dries clear is an easy and affordable pruning seal.


The Right Cut
For the best results you should make your cuts at a 45 degree angle, about 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud. The lower side of the angle should be opposite the bud. The plant will now direct energy to this top most bud for producing a new stem. The position of the bud on the cane indicates the direction of the new growth. By carefully selecting which bud becomes the stem producer you can manipulate the shape of the rose. Ideally, you want the rose bush to grow out, but in some cases you may want it to develop in a certain direction. This is especially true of climbing roses you want to train to grow up a trellis or over an arbor.

How To Prune
Begin by removing dead and diseased wood. Small stems can be cut back with your hand pruners, use your loppers on larger canes.

The next thing to do is remove any large, old canes and cut them at the base of the plant. Old canes will be gray and rough textured. For the best result, use your pruning saw and cut the cane flush with the bud union.

Once the plant is cleaned up, take a close look at its form. Pick out 3 or 4 of the strongest canes and remove the others.

Now cut back about 1/3 of the top growth and any crisscrossing stems to promote good air circulation. The rule of thumb is to take out stems that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.

Remove any leaves left on the plant from last year. This will help prevent carrying over black spot and other fungi and pests from one year to the next.

Seal newly pruned stems with a white glue that dries clear, such as Elmers. This will help shed water and keep insects from getting into the center of the cane and damaging the plant.

To finish the job, pick up all the resulting debris, bag it and throw it away.

Special Notes
Old fashioned roses should be pruned with a lighter hand than hybrid teas. Simply remove any dead or damaged wood, the top 1/3 of growth, and crisscrossing branches.

Old fashioned roses that flower once each growing season, such as Damasks and Mosses, bloom on old wood. These types should be pruned in the summer after they have flowered.

Knockout Roses do not need to be pruned every year. In spring you can remove dead or damaged wood and shape if you wish taking out some of the ‘twiggy’ growth to improve air circulation and about every 3rd year remove about one third of the old branches to stimulate new, fresh growth. Since they are continuously flowering throughout the season, it really makes no difference when, where or how much you prune.

Planting Roses and Rose Soil Recipe

One of my favorite flowers is the rose. Now I don’t mean just any rose, but old-fashioned roses, those that were popular hundreds of years ago.

Most of these roses were bred for growing in the garden, but there are also some varieties that are ideal for growing in containers so there is something for everyone when it comes to old-fashioned roses.

Roses make a spectacular statement when planted in any garden. They are so versatile; they can be used in several ways. Since many of the climbers are vigorous growers one of the best ways to deal with them is to weave the canes onto a single tall post. I also like to create a rustic teepee from three tree limbs and let the roses twine around the poles. And if you’re looking for a colorful alternative to a hedge, many of these beauties are ideal planted in a row.

Rose Cothilde SupertWhile these are all great suggestions, for me one of the best ways to use old-fashioned roses is to plant them just like any other flowering shrub in the garden, integrating them among perennials and annuals to create a beautiful mixed border.

Now, many gardeners shy away from roses because they have a reputation for being fussy. I find that old-fashioned roses can actually be quite easy to grow given the proper conditions.

When planting roses I pay particular attention to where I place them in the garden. They need to be located in an area that gets four to six hours of direct sunlight a day and plenty of air circulation. This will cut down on fungal problems later in the season. And for soil, roses thrive in a rich loam that’s well drained.

To give my roses a boost, I like to amend my existing garden soil. I take two parts existing soil to one part homemade compost to one part well-rotted manure and then I mix it all together in the wheelbarrow. As far as the size of the hole, you want to make sure that it’s at least wide enough to spread all of the roots out and about 14 to 18 inches deep.

The placement of the bud union (that part of the plant between the roots and limbs) either above or below the soil line is important. The bud union is the most susceptible part of the plant and if you live in areas where you have extremely cold winters you’ll want to bury it about 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the ground for protection. But in milder parts of the country you can actually plant it with the bud union about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches above ground level.

Mail Ordering Roses

While I could never be accused of being a techno-geek, one characteristic of the modern age that I do appreciate is being able to purchase plants through mail-order catalogs and over the Internet that I might not be able to find locally.

Now, catalog ordering is nothing new, we’ve been doing it since the first mailbox was nailed to a post, but advances in shipping have made it possible to order a wider variety of plants with faster delivery times.

I’m not the only one who appreciates having plants delivered to my doorstep. According to the Mail-order Garden Association, Americans will spend $3.07 billion on mail-order plants, bulbs, seeds, garden tools and garden supplies in 2005. The popularity of mail-ordering is due in part to convenience and selection of unusual plants that have not yet made it to local markets.

Buying mail-order roses is certainly a good example of this. I am an old hand at ordering roses through the mail because I’ve placed hundreds of orders for retail sale when I was in the nursery business. In the process I learned a few tips from my favorite suppliers about what to look for when making selections.

Rose Colthilde SoupertKnow Your Growing Conditions
Roses can be grown in a variety of conditions, but for the best results know your hardiness zone before you place your order, the amount of sun your garden receives (most roses require 6 hours of sunlight per day), the amount of space available for the rose to grow and how much time you will have to care for the plant. For instance, ‘Alchymist’ is cold tolerant to zone 4, making it great for Northern gardens, but it matures into a 10′ – 12′ shrub so it wouldn’t be such a good choice for someone with limited space. Or ‘Old Blush’ is an excellent selection for those who would like a carefree rose because it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance time.

Bare Root versus Container
Roses are sold either bare root or in containers. Bare root plants are dug while dormant and shipped without soil, while containerized roses arrive potted up. Bare root roses are less expensive than containerized roses, but are only available in winter and early spring. Some would argue that container roses are easier to get established than bare root, but I have not found this to be the case unless the roses are container grown. This means that they have been grown in a container rather than dug from the field and planted in a container for shipping.

Grafted versus Own Root Stock
Rose Bud UnionSome roses are grafted while others are grown on their own root stock. A grafted rose is created by attaching a bud of the desired variety onto to a more vigorous root stock. The graft is easily identified by a swollen area on the plant called the bud union. I have tree roses growing in my garden that are grafted and I once had a ‘White Dawn’ that started blooming red because the root stock proved to be stronger than the ‘White Dawn’ bud. Roses grown on their own root stock are more freeze tolerant than grafted roses. Most hybrid teas are grafted, but look for old-fashioned roses that are grown on their own roots.

Ship Dates and Planting Times
If you have your heart set on a particular rose, get your order in early because most mail-order nurseries have a set inventory. However, early ordering may not coincide with the best time to plant roses in your area, so companies will hold your order and ship it when the time is right. For my zone 7 garden and further south, February is an excellent time to plant roses so I can expect my order to arrive that month. Gardeners in zone 6 are most likely to receive their roses in March and in zones 5 and 4 roses will be shipped in April or May.

Most mail-order plant sources offer exceptional guarantees on their products. Be sure to check these out before you place an order.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
A good mail-order company will be staffed with people who can help you make a selection that is best for you. So, even if you are using the Internet it is a wise idea to call if you are unsure what roses to select or if you have any questions. After all, any rosarian worth their salt knows that if a gardener is successful growing one rose they will be back for at least 20 more, so it is worth their time it to make your experience a good one.

Mail-order Source:
Antique Rose Emporium

A Rose For Every Garden

Their intoxicating fragrance, beautiful form and ease of care make roses hard to
resist. I grow over 30 varieties of roses in my garden and I love them all.
Whether it is an arbor, a mixed flower border or a container, I can always find
a suitable rose.

So when people tell me that they don’t have the right conditions to grow roses,
I always say, ‘Oh, but you do!’ It is just a matter of selecting the
right rose for the situation.

Whatever rose you choose it is important to get the soil right. They will not
tolerate poor drainage and heavy clay soil. I this describes your soil, be
sure to amend it with plenty of humus. I take two parts existing soil to one
part homemade compost to one part well-rotted manure and then I mix it all
together in the wheelbarrow to use when planting my new roses.

If you have ever shopped for a rose, you know that there are hundreds to
choose from. To help make the selection easier, I’ve listed my favorite
roses according to site-specific or characteristic-specific categories.
Many of these are true old-fashioned, but I’ve also slipped in a few modern

Carefree Roses

Belinda’s Dream
Large, free flowering roses are produced
on an upright shrub throughout the growing season. All the beauty of an
hybrid tea with none of the worry.
Shrub, 1992, 3 – 6 feet, zone 5 – 9,
fragrant, pink blooms

Rose Marie Pavie
Marie Pavie
Very versatile variety that blooms
continuously throughout the season. Sweet fragrance and nearly thornless
canes make it one of my favorites to enjoy indoors as a cut flower.
Another perk is that it is shade tolerant.
Polyantha, 1888, 3 – 4
feet, zones 5 – 9, fragrant, white blooms

New Dawn
This rose is the most carefree rose that I
grow. Pale pink appear in spring and then sporadically during the summer.

Climber, 1930, 12 -20 feet, zones 5 – 9, fragrant, pale pink
blooms maturing to cream.

Old Blush
I grow Old Blush along my picket fence
next to a burgundy barberry and purple iris. It is a heavy bloomer that
requires little attention. In the fall it produces a nice display of
rose hips.
China, 1752, 3 – 6 feet, zones 6 – 9, fragrant,
medium pink blooms

Roses that Tolerate Light Shade

Buff Beauty
I love apricot roses and this is one of
the best. The medium sized blooms borne in clusters perfume the air on
warm days.
Hybrid Musk, 1939, 5 – 7 feet, zones 6 – 9, fragrant, apricot blooms

Gruss an Aachen
A favorite for lightly shaded areas. The large blooms
appear repeatedly over the summer.
Floribunda, 1909, 3 – 4 feet, zones 6 – 9,
fragrant, pink blooms with hints of yellow

Rose LaMarque
I have trained this rose over the door to my chicken
house. It receives morning sun, but is shaded in the afternoon yet it blooms
profusely sometimes well into December.
Noisette, 1830, 12 – 20 feet, zones 7 – 9, fragrant, pale cream blooms

Mme. Alfred Carriere
This rose is a vigorous climber with showy, super fragrant
blooms. In my garden it grows up through a holly hedge into the limbs of a ‘Byers White’ crape
Noisette, 1879, 15 – 20 feet, zones 6 – 9, fragrant, pale pink blooms maturing to white

Roses for Cold Climates

In spring, this rose covers itself with gorgeous apricot gold flowers.
It only blooms once, but the size and profusion of the blooms and its carefree nature makes it a rose
worth growing.
Shrub, 1956, 10-12 feet, zones 4 – 9, fragrant, once blooming, apricot blooms

Although the blooms suggest the classic cabbage rose, the origins of
Fantin-Latour are a mystery. Flat, multi-petaled pink blooms appear amid dark green foliage. The canes
are nearly thornless, making this a favorite cut flower.
Centifolia (Cabbage Rose), Unknown Date of Origin, 4 – 6 feet, zones 4 – 9, fragrant, once blooming, light pink

Rose Madame Plantier
Madame Plantier
This attractive rose is planted at the corner of my front porch
by the steps. Covered in clusters of white, fragrant blooms it offers a spring greeting for guests to
my home.
Alba, 1835, 4 – 6 feet, zone 4 – 9, fragrant, once blooming, white blooms

The Fairy
A great rose to plant among your favorite annuals and perennials for
a lovely mixed flower border. It produces clusters of petite pink blooms all summer long. An
excellent choice for small space gardens and containers.
Polyantha, 1932, 3 – 4 feet, zone 4 – 9, light pink blooms

Roses for Small Spaces

White Pet
As the name implies, this is a darling of a rose. Fully double, white
roses adorn this diminutive shrub. It is perfect for containers or other tight spaces where you want
to add blooms and fragrance.
Polyantha, 1879, 2 – 3 feet, zones 5 – 9, fragrant, white blooms.

Rose Caldwell Pink
Caldwell Pink
This rose will reward you with non-stop pink flowers on a compact
shrub. It requires little maintenance and will thrive in just about any soil.
Found, Unknown Date
of Origin, 3 – 4 feet, zones 6- 9, medium pink

Cecile Brunner
This is a rose that has never let me down. It produces a treasure box
of miniature hybrid tea-shaped blooms all summer long. I never have to spray it for black spot or insects
and it thrives in partial shade.
Polyantha, 1881, 3 – 4 feet, zones 5 – 9, fragrant, light pink blooms

Clotilde Soupert
Clotilde Soupert produces miniature cabbage-like blooms that are a pale
cream. I find it to be a nice addition to the flower border and for containers. The fragrance is good and the
plant itself it fairly carefree.
Polyantha, 1890, 3 – 4 feet, zones 6 -9, fragrant, white blooms