Is it too early to cover roses?
We've had snow, but we also still have days when it hits almost
50F, like today. - D.C. -
If you're competitive about clipping the last rose of the
season, winterizing your roses now may ruin your chances for a
best-ever. Even after several snows this year, we've seen
roses still budding up.
Picked a beautiful pink rose on Thursday, December 9th, from a
small bush in the front yard. It was beyond a bud but not fully
opened and hasn't opened any farther, but hey, in December!!!
- F.H., zone 5 Michigan -
However, if you don't care to harvest any more cut flowers,
go ahead and put your roses to bed. They needed
time and triggers -- short days and freezing weather -- in order to
harden off naturally. What they do internally during that natural
hardening process means more toward winter survival than anything
we do to protect them. Now, they've had weeks of long nights and
Some rose growers would say you must wait until the weather
absolutely stops the plant dead. That's okay for purists. For us,
once into December we know the point of no return is nigh... for
us! That is, if we wait until it's truly frigid, we might just pass
on the chore entirely.
So we've chosen early protection over no
protection plenty of times. We've cut and covered
still-green roses and buried rose trees with flowers still coming.
Sometimes we lose roses over winter but as far as we can tell we've
had the same live/loss rate with those we've rushed under cover as
It wasn't even December when Janet decided to go ahead and
bury the rose tree from a garden she and Deb Hall were
tending. (Arrow points to the rose tree, pretty much as it looked
moments before burial!)
Here's Deb staging a joking protest, muttering something
about 'still beating heart' and 'Edgar Allan Poe'. The rose's root
ball is in the foreground.
That rose wintered wonderfully, coming out of its "grave"
the next April with foliage intact and looking like we'd buried it
just moments before.
Then, Janet cut every branch back by two feet so it looked
like a hand with knuckles but no fingers, telling the plant as she
clipped, "If you thought we were mean to you last fall, how