Roses may be the oldest flower in existence. Fossil records show that wild roses existed 35 million years ago. Today there are over 150 rose species throughout the Northern Hemisphere extending from Alaska to northern Africa. Though some hybrids such as the Knock Out rose are virtually care-free, most roses require a moderate amount of care. Winter protection for your roses is more than just covering them to prevent freezing temperatures. Winter protection of roses is a year-round job.
Choose roses that are winter hardy to your USDA temperate zone at planting time. This will help keep your roses from dying in winter.
Select a planting location that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. Feed and water roses during summer months to help them establish an extensive root system that will make them more hardy in winter.
Stop fertilizing roses in August to ensure that they go dormant before winter begins.
Stop removing spent flowers in September to allow roses to form rose hips. This will force the plant into dormancy before winter begins.
Time your winterization of roses for after the first killing frost when roses have been exposed to several nights of cold weather. Winterizing too soon can damage the rose plant.
Water roses and remove dead canes to prepare for winter. Shrub roses are generally more hardy and do not need covering in winter. Do not prune shrub roses until spring. Mulch around hybrid tea roses so that the graft union at the base of the plant is covered and protected from the cold.
Untie climbing roses from their anchor and lay them flat on the ground. Then cover them with 4 inches of mulch.