It’s time for me to admit that fall is here and winter is coming and it’s time to prepare the garden for it’s 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 like last year.
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 169 days. 🙂
Every season brings new garden adventures…some we like and some we want to avoid–like spider mites and black spot. They can make themselves known in the early fall even if we have not had problems throughout the summer. It is best to be on guard! Early detection is key and there are many ways to treat … whether organic or inorganic. Find the one that is best for you. If you need product suggestions, I’ll be happy to help!
We all want blooms right up to the first frost. The better we care for our roses in the fall the more likely that is to happen. Around here the first frost is usually mid October. The bokays we bring inside and share at this time become more and more precious!
Enjoy this special season and do take time to “smell the roses!”
Many people ask … “What do you do with all those roses in the fall?” Really not much … I tend to keep it simple. There are other chores that get a lot more of our attention in the fall than the roses. Like leaves! We have a lot of trees and so there are a lot of leaves. Mr. G has that process well in hand — with power tools like his leaf blower and tractor.
As far as the rose companions are concerned, I don’t cut back my perennials and annuals until the spring–I love the winter interest they provide especially when the snow falls on the different plant shapes. And, those seed pods are very yummy to our birds who hang around.
Now for “all those roses.” Many of my roses are known to be winter hardy because I know that it is very likely that we will have a harsh winter and I would advise you make decisions on the roses you buy based on your weather conditions throughout the year not just your spring and summer.
I will clean up the beds of diseased leaves and debris and add mulch were needed.
I will take those in pots into the garage to protect from the winter. They don’t require much, just a drink of water every few weeks.
I will provide a heavy layer of much for a few of the particularly tender roses or sentimental favorites that I would hate to lose, by adding 4-5″ of extra mulch.
I will tie up the long canes of the climbers. I can look out and see that Peggy Martin and Francis E. Lester has grown some long arching canes since I tied them up a few weeks ago.
I will also cut back any of the roses that are extra tall to about waist high to keep them from flapping in the winter winds.
For the rest of the roses, they are on their own. Most can take it, but I know that if we have a winter like we had last year, I will lose a few and it is to be expected. But, you know what that means, once I get over the emotion of the loss, I will celebrate the extra space for the new introductions.
Rugosas are some of the toughest roses I grow. They will be back next spring give us their own brand of fireworks and fragrance in the garden. Oh I just can’t wait. If you want to read more about FIREWORKS and FRAGRANCE in the garden, read on here.
Have a wonderful week and enjoy the garden down time!