Even though the temps are still high and the rain has decided to pour down on us, it’s time for me to admit that fall is near and winter is coming. Time to prepare the garden for the long winter’s nap. In my Zone 5b garden that could mean most anything as I’ve seen winters with more days than I care to count below 0 and then there are the mild midwest winters. From the blizzard of 1978 to the polar vortex to jacket weather–we’ve seen it all!
Regardless, good fall care makes spring all the sweeter.
STOP FERTILIZING & DEADHEADING
About 6 weeks before expected frost, it is time to stop fertilizing and deadheading the roses. Since in my neck of the woods, the first frost date can be anywhere from October 5 – October 28.
Stopping the deadheading process tells the roses it’s okay to begin to go to sleep and start producing seeds in the form of rose hips. (Read more about rose hips here.) Don’t trim those off either–the birds find them particularly yummy.
Remove all diseased leaves from around your roses. Black spot and other fungal diseases are not discouraged by cold temperatures and will just over winter and be there next spring– so they must go! Don’t add any of your diseased leaves to your compost pile … they will overwinter there too!
I don’t do much pruning in the fall (Read about spring care here.), unless there are rose canes that have gotten extra tall or spindly. Those I trim back to prevent them from flapping in those cold winter winds as there is a danger of loosening around the roots and making the roses more susceptible to damage from the cold. Pruning says, “Let’s get busy growing.” That is the wrong message to send in the fall!
I think it is very important to add an extra layer of mulch to protect the roses through the winter. And, for roses that are more tender, I will mound the mulch much higher on them–to about 1/2 the height of the shrub.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax and pour through those beautiful catalogs and websites and get to dreaming, plotting and planning. Spring will be here in about 174 days.
Although fall and winter are not my favorites, I am thankful for every season in life and in the garden. My heart knows that… He makes everything beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11