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Winter Rose Protection

October 19, 2021


survive for spring

Winterizing roses is a very important maintenance practice to ensure vigorous growth.

There are several things you can do to make sure your roses survive Ohio winters long before the cold winds blow.


About the middle to the end of December, we need to be putting our winter protection in place for our rose plants. Do not do it earlier than this as the plants need to be dormant and the soil needs to start freezing when this is done.

All roses need winter protection at the graft or bud union which is close to the ground where the stems attach to the rootstock. 

Rose Protection

How We Do it

  • Pile a mixture of 1 part topsoil to 3 parts mulch or compost about 12” high and 18” wide at the base around your rose plants.
  • Do not take the topsoil from around your rose bush as disturbing this soil can cause root injury.
  • A wire cage filled with leaves or straw on top of this mulch or compost will also add to the insulation.


The only pruning that should be done in the fall is to remove any branches that are extremely long and will be damaged by strong winds.

Complete the pruning in the spring after the plants begin to grow to remove any winter damage and to shape the plant. Normal height after pruning is about 18”.

Save the Hips

Another thing that is done to increase the survivability of roses is to make sure they “think” they have done their job of reproduction for the year. By leaving the rose “hips” or seed heads on the plant it signals to the plant that it can stop growing because the end of the season is here and the goal of producing seeds has been accomplished. This is the way nature increases the maturity of the plant tissue so it has a better chance of surviving the winter.  

DO NOT remove the spent roses from your rose bushes after September 10th so the seeds develop and mature. BTW, birds enjoy the hips.

Growing Roses
Play Video about Ohio Frost Free Dates

What exactly is the frost free date and why it is important to your garden?

After winter

When severe winter weather conditions have subsided, which is typically mid-March or early April in Ohio, remove most of the mulch and soil from around the bases of plants. You may leave a 2-inch layer of mulch in the bed.