Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roses in the Winter

The roses have finally gone to sleep.

In early November, many of the remontant or repeat-blooming roses that bloom twice per year were still going strong. Even that late in the season, the flowers werelush—canes were tall, bloom was heavy, and November’s cold-but-not-freezing nights kept the last of the season’s flowers going through the Thanksgiving season, but that was soon to come to an end as Jack Frost made his first appearance.
Finally, early December brought below-freezing nighttime temperatures.  Did this take you by surprise or did you remember to put the rose beds “to sleep” for the winter. What a difference a month makes.  Just think, we'll be saying that same thing in a few months when spring is knocking at our door.
If you didn't protect your roses or don't know how, here's what you need to know.  There's still time to protect those precious roses, so get on your gloves and get to work!
Step 1: Prune canes.
While early spring is the major pruning season for roses, end-of-the-year pruning protects the plant from winter wind (canes can whip around and scar each other, and stiff winds can pull long-caned plants out of the ground). Prune out thin or crossing canes to open up the plant, and cut back remaining canes by one-third in height.
Step 2: Clean up leaf litter.
This simple step can prevent major problems later, as leaf litter is a prime source of diseases and pest problems. 
Step 3: Mulch.
Mounded up and around each rose plant is a thick layer of mulch (we use well-aged horse manure, but chopped and well-composted leaves work, too). Mulch protects the plants, helps maintain even temperatures, and adds fresh nutrients to the soil. When spring arrives, this extra blanket of mulch will be removed. For top-quality mulch at unbeatable prices, visit www.organicsolutions.net.

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