How do I prepare my roses for the winter?
-- Gabriel Price, Calgary
It depends on the kinds of roses you have and the climate they grow in. Surprisingly, cold temperatures are less threatening than drying winds and alternating freezes and thaws.
Hardy shrub roses, such as native or rugosa roses or those from the David Austen, Explorer and Morden series, don't require special care, but do appreciate mulch. To prevent wind damage, tie up the canes of hardy climbers. Wrap the canes and crowns of tender climbers with two layers of burlap, or lay each plant on its side in a trench and bury it completely.
Trim the canes of tender hybrid teas, floribundas and grandifloras down to about 45 centimetres, then cover each crown in a 30-centimetre mound of soil or mulch, and tamp it into place.
For even more protection, place a wire or plastic collar around each bush, then fill it with leaves and mulch (loosely, to allow some air circulation) and heap snow on top in the winter.
Next year, remember to stop fertilizing at the end of July to discourage tender new growth. Stop deadheading about six weeks before
the first frost, as well, to let hips develop and encourage dormancy. Do keep watering, though, until the ground freezes. Then, after the first hard frost, remove any leaves on the bush and on the soil underneath, to discourage overwintering insects and diseases.