October 26, 2021

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Yes, we know that winter is still a month away. And, it’s true that some rose growers wait until late fall, when their roses are fully dormant, to start preparing their plants for winter.

“But the weather is unpredictable by mid-fall, and a sudden cold snap could cause serious damage,” according to the editors at

And, they have a point. Some roses are more cold-tolerant than others. Old garden roses, for instance, are hardy to USDA zone 3, where the coldest temperature in the winter can get to a brisk -40 degrees F. Certain Knock Out® roses will bloom up until the first frost.

Hybrid teas and floribundas, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as hardy and need earlier and better winter protection.

Here’s what you’ll need to winterize your roses: Pruning shears, twine, fabric strips or commercial garden ties, dormant oil spray, stakes, and burlap.


Ideally, you stopped fertilizing the bushes in late summer. Fertilizer promotes tender, new growth that may be damaged by an early frost.

If you’re still pruning and deadheading, you’ll want to stop that as well, with the exception of English and hybrid tea roses.


Rosarians suggest that you wait until you’ve had several days of below-freezing temperatures to begin the rest of the process:

  • Cut the canes of English roses and hybrid teas to about knee height before performing the rest of the overwintering process.
  • Use plant ties to tie together climbing roses and roses with tall canes.
  • Create an 8- to 10-inch deep mound of shredded leaves, soil or compost to cover the plant’s crown and lower branches.
  • When the mound freezes, cover it with leaves, straw or tree branches with foliage, such as pine boughs.
  • Spray the rose bush with dormant oil to control any pests that may overwinter on the plant.
  • Cover the entire rose bush, including the mounded material, in areas with very harsh winters. Drive three or four stakes into the soil surrounding the rosebush. Wrap burlap around the outside of the stakes and staple or nail to the stakes.