Fall / Winter Rose Care

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. Sometimes the temps fluctuate up and down causing all kinds of problems.

Regardless, good fall care makes spring all the sweeter.


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, I start the “stopping process” the first of September.

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. Don’t trim those off —  birds find them particularly yummy and actually need all the nutrition they provide. They are great food for people too. Jacque Ferare of Star Roses and Plants has a lot to say about hips … Read here.



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 (Spring Care info here.), unless there are rose canes that have gotten extra tall or spindly. Those I trim back to about waist high 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. If you see damaged canes, take those out too.


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. 🙂

Snow is kind of pretty. 🙂



5 thoughts on “Fall / Winter Rose Care

  1. I have just “winterized” my 12 rose bushes in Lexington, Kentucky. Although it hearts my heart every fall to cut them back when they are still blooming, I fill my house with vases of fresh cut roses to enjoy one last time before spring! I use rose collars around the base of the rose and mulch inside the collars. Works very well for me and my lovelies!

  2. I need to transplant an old (healthy) rose bush to another location because I need to get my sewer replaced. I live in Denver CO and everything I’ve read says to transplant in the spring. Sewer can’t wait so I need to do beginning of Oct. I’ve read to prepare the new hole w/ mulch and compost, cut back by 1/3 or 12-18″, dig large hole around so as to get as much of the root ball as possible.move carefully, place in new hole, water as you fill w// dirt mixture and mound mulch around base to cover/protect. Any advise? Once moved, how much do I water initially and throughout the winter?

    1. Hi Jodi, I agree with all of that advice. I too have had to move a large rose at the “wrong” time and so far they have all survived. It may take a little while to get its vigor back but all should be well. Old Garden Roses are very hardy. Do you know of the name of the rose?

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