How to Cover and Prune Roses for the Winter: Protect Bushes from Winter Frosts

Pruning and covering roses for the winter is done to protect bushes from winter frost and sunburn.

For the flowers to survive the frosts safely, they need proper pruning of the branches and a reliable cover from the cold. Young bushes 1-2 years old need protection the most. Park roses do not need to be covered and cut back – they survive frost well.

When to cut and cover roses for the winter

You should not start pruning roses before the first frost. Removing the buds in warm weather strengthens their growth and is harmful to the plant. Roses can be cut as soon as the temperature at night falls below 0 °C.

Roses are usually covered immediately after cutting. But you should check the weather forecast first. If no major warming is expected for the next two weeks, you can cover the flowers. If there are only sporadic frosts, it’s better to cover roses in December.

How to cut roses in winter

Pruning roses is done so that the plant does not waste energy feeding the branches in the winter, but saves energy until the spring. Also, trimming old branches in the fall rejuvenates the plant – new buds will be stronger and larger. Not all roses require pruning. They can be cut with a pair of secateurs.

Only cut back climbing roses if they are 180 cm or taller. Then they should be shortened to 1.5 meters. Lower flowers of this variety are simply ducked to the ground for the winter.

Tea roses and their hybrids are capricious and need to be cut back every year. We recommend cutting them to around 60 cm. Each branch should have 3-4 buds which will bud in spring.

Partially prune young roses (1-2 years old) regardless of variety. Remove all immature buds and flowers, as well as diseased and weak branches. After pruning, only strong shoots with dormant buds are left on the bush.

All roses should have all leaves removed after trimming the stems. This is done so that under the cover in winter, the leaves will not rot and kill the plant. It is better not to pull the leaves out, but twist them or cut them off with scissors to avoid damaging the stem or injuring yourself on the thorns.

After pruning, cover roses for the winter to protect them from frost, snow, and rodents. The way you cover depends on the variety and age of the rose. Mature and tall roses can simply be covered with spruce branches – learn more about this below. More delicate roses need to be covered completely.

For covering large areas of roses, special materials from the agro-store such as geotextile, trail, or spun-bond are used, which are stretched over a metal or wooden frame. You can also cover the bed with a simple polyethylene film, but you need to make holes for oxygen access.

To cover individual bushes, use roofing felt, geotextile, agro fiber, and burlap. The trunk of the rose is wrapped with the material several times. Around the perimeter, the material is tied with ropes or fastened with clothespins, and at the bottom pressed to the ground with bricks. For the crown of the rose, a large “hat” is made from the selected material, which is tied to the trunk at the edges.

How to trim roses for the winter with spruce branches

Coniferous material for covering roses for the winter is called lapnik. You can buy it at the market or in an agro-store. Lapnik makes a good insulator and allows air to pass through. It is suitable for covering tall roses, especially the rambler varieties. Do not use lapnik until temperatures fall to -5° and below.

To cover roses with lanterns, first lay some spruce twigs on the ground. Then bend the bush to the ground and lay it on top of the brushwood. Then secure the bush to the ground with ropes or netting. Also, cover the branches with cap nuts.

Remove the lapnik cover at the end of March. Take it off gradually, one layer every 3 days to get the plant used to the heat.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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