Fall Care for Shrub Roses


Most of the care and maintenance tasks needed for shrub roses in fall are directly related to preparing the plants for winter. In order to survive the cold winter months, shrub roses need to "harden off," meaning to prepare for a dormant state. In most regions, shrub-type roses don't need much special care or covering to survive the winter, but they do require protection in very cold regions. Keep in mind that shrub roses aren't usually killed from the cold temperatures in winter, but instead they're damaged when the ground endures a freeze-and-thaw cycle that causes the roots to heave out of the ground and become frost-damaged.

Step 1

Stop fertilizing your shrub roses in late summer or early fall to begin hardening them off for winter. Also stop deadheading the shrub roses to remove the spent flowers, because this will keep the rose bush from pushing out new growth.

Step 2

Reduce the watering frequency for your shrub roses during autumn. Don't allow the shrub roses to dry out, but decrease the watering frequency to no more than once per week.

Step 3

Prune your shrub roses in fall to remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth. You should perform your heavier pruning in early spring, but you can tidy up the shrub roses in fall.

Step 4

Mound up soil around the lower stems and over the crown to a height of 8 to 12 inches, only if you live in a region with prolonged freezing temperatures. Mound up the soil before the first hard frost or freeze, and then remove the mound in early spring.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't bury the shrub roses in soil mounds if you live in a region that experiences winter frosts and short freezes, but not deep freezing. Instead, simply spread a 4- to 6-inch-thick layer of organic mulch on the ground around the base of the rose shrub to protect the roots in case of frost heaves.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Soil
  • Chicken wire or mesh fencing
  • Straw mulch or dry leaves
  • Organic mulch


  • Rose Gardening Made Easy: Winterizing Roses

Who Can Help

  • University of Vermont Extension: Fall Care of Roses
Keywords: autumn rose care, fall rose maintenance, grow shrub roses

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.