The roses you enjoy next year, in quality and quantity comes down to fall rose care you do now.
If drought or neglect has left your bushes in bad condition, your effort to bring them back to normal should begin now.
Even bushes of Knock Out roses in good shape at the end of the summer will respond better next spring if given some extra care now.
Fall Rose Care Begins With Sufficient Plant Food
The first step in fall rose care… make sure your roses get sufficient plant food.
If plants have not grown and flowered satisfactorily, despite good care and ample moisture during September and October, they probably need more to eat.
Postpone feeding until spring, if your roses are growing vigorously.
More on –> Spring Rose Care
You’ve been told or heard to not fertilize roses later than August 15. This general statement is only half true and applies to “complete” plant foods high in nitrogen.
These high nitrogen fertilizers might stimulate new growth that wouldn’t mature properly before freezing.
Phosphorus and potash act much more slowly than nitrogen.
A generous application of superphosphate (6 to 8 pounds per 100 square feet) and of wood ashes (3 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet) will be decidedly beneficial.
Broadcast it between your plants and cultivate it into the soil. If soil is dry at the time of application, water the soil after working materials in.
Now is the time to take out any underperforming plants. Plant new plants at anytime until the ground freezes.
Pruning Roses In Fall
Next comes the pre-winter care of roses – rose pruning. As soon as frost destroys the last flowers and buds, remove them.
Next cut back by one-third their length any tall growths that might whip around in winter winds.
During August or early September remove any thick, broken, diseased or otherwise undesirable plant parts.
This allows time for the wounds to callus over completely before frost.
Related: Preparing Roses For Winter
A thorough clean-up is essential. Carefully rake up fallen leaves, twigs, prunings, etc. Remove any weeds or grass, being sure to get out the roots.
The debris is best collected in a bag as the work progresses and then destroyed. Do not put it in your compost bin.
Last Fall Spray For Roses
Now we are ready for the last fall spraying, the purpose of which is to really disinfect both plants and soil.
Don’t worry about spray injury to foliage and tender new growth. Use a very concentrated spray of – 1 part lime-sulfur to 9 parts water. Thoroughly cover the rose bushes and ground around them.
Protecting Roses With A Winter Blanket
The next step is covering the rose bed with its winter blanket. The safest method uses garden loam or sifted compost heaped or “hilted” around and over the stems to a height of 6 to 12 inches depending on the severity of the winter weather expected.
In the vicinity of New York City 6 inches is usually adequate. In locations encountering extremely low night temperatures consider using 12 inches.
This “hilling” compost is added to the soil bed. Scraping up of existing soil in the bed might expose growing roots to winter injury.
This extra earth blanket protects the budded area on the under-stock and also the stems immediately above it. In spring, remove the mounds and work the compost into the beds. New growth starts readily from the cozily protected stem-buds.
In locations with only mild freezing, substitute mulches of evergreen boughs. rock wool or other mulching material. Do not apply these until after a hard freeze.
Tree roses, because of their tall bare trunks, are subject to winter kill and breakage and therefore need special winter protection. Wrap them in a heavy covering of straw supported by stout stakes and covered by burlap.
Like bush roses, do not heavily prune climbing roses in late autumn. Remove any neglected wayward growth along with dead or over-mature wood that may interfere with vigorous new growth.
More on How To Trim Knockout Roses
Securely tie any long canes so they will not break from wind and ice.
If such branches of large-flowered climbers are trained and tied in a horizontal or at least slanting position, many blooming sprays will start from them in spring.
Tall vertical canes often produce bloom only near the top.
In extremely cold winter area, lay down the climbers and secure them to the ground, and partially or completely covered with loam or straw.
The heavy stems of old rugged climbers will not handle such treatment and do not need it. However, the climbing hybrid teas and such may be saved in severe climates by this form or winter protection.
Paul Zimmerman the go to rose expert at Fine Gardening has been discussing winter rose protection over the last few weeks, offering tips to help roses go through the season with few issues.
Paul says, cold winds do more damage than cold temperatures.
He had a suggestion on rose winterizing sent in by one of his loyal readers and liked it so much he shared and published the easy, elegant solution. Now it is being shared with you! Read about the suggestion and details via finegardening.com
by RE Shepherd