The beautiful rose, all of its hundred plus species coming in a variety of colors, belongs to the genus Rosa, from the family Rosaceae. Roses are grown world over, and as they have always found special favor with many gardeners and enthusiasts, new types are being developed, which are pest and climate hardy. This perennial plant, with bright green colored leaves and red colored trimmings along its edges, bears flowers that come in different sizes, and can be single or doubled petaled. Their stems are covered with sharp prickles (thorns). To ensure a healthy, true blossom, winter care is a must.
How to Care for Roses During Winters
Roses can be grown in any season, as trailers, or as shrubs and bushes. Water and fertilize them well, when you see the first flower buds sprouting. If you seek large sized flowers, pinch off a few buds per stem. These plants are not very fussy, but just like any other plant, it requires protection from winter's harsh wind and hardening of the soil. The rose plant has its own mechanism to insulate or harden itself against cold winds. Plants are made of cells, and these cells are full of fluid during their growing period. With a fall in temperature, the cell walls begin to thicken. This mechanism is exhibited through purpling of the stems. However, basic care will protect the bushes from further damage.
The first thing one needs to do is to stop fertilizing approximately six weeks before the first frost. As fertilizers promote growth, they will not allow the bush to get into its dormancy period, damaging its growth cycle. Remove all deadheads (spent flowers), prune away all the dead and lanky stalks and all mature hips as well. Watering is another factor that needs consideration. Cut back on the watering frequency, but do not stop watering completely, else the harsh winter wind will dry out the plant.
Mulching, or mounding or hilling the soil are two ways to manage fluctuations in the temperature. You can select from the various types of mulch available; leaf mold, wood or bark chips, peat moss, weed free straw, etc. Before you start mulching around the rose plant, give it time to acclimatize to the fall in temperature. Depending upon the zone you reside in, start mulching between October to November, or when the temperature falls below twenty-five degrees (whichever is earlier). An early application will not allow the plant to develop winter hardiness, whereas, with a late application, valuable soil heat will be lost as the soil will get covered by snow. Pile the mulch around the bush to a minimum height of one foot.
Hilling or mounding involves the use of soil to insulate the crown and canes. Mound soil over the crown, bud union, and lower stems, to a minimum depth of 8-12 inches. This hilling process will also provide warmth to the roots. Mounding or hilling should be timed to give the rose bush enough time to acclimatize to cold temperatures. If one is not able to understand how much soil should be used, use market ready frost cloth or burlap. Secure burlap around the canes and union bud with a string, and fill in some straw.
Remove all mulch and soil (never scrape) around the plant, when you notice new sprouts shoot from the canes. Water and fertilize the rose plant well. Taking good care will ensure that your blooms will outdo all others!