How to Care for Potted Rose Plants in the Winter


Roses are planted in tubs, barrels, planters and other containers. This makes a rose movable, so the landscape is changeable. Potted roses are used for walkways, patios, decks, terraces and rooftops. They create gardens in areas with limited space. Container-grown roses need special care in the winter in colder climates.

Step 1

Expose the potted rose plant to a couple of hard autumn frosts. This encourages the roses to go dormant. Their leaves change color and start to fall.

Step 2

Cut the rose canes back to 3 feet in length with a pair of pruning shears. This pruning will reduce the risk of cane breakage when the rose bush is moved.

Step 3

Pour water into the top of the container until it runs out the bottom of the plant pot. While the potted rose plant is in storage, keep the soil slightly moist by watering it every 1 to 2 months.

Step 4

Mound straw or pine needle mulch on top of the plant pot around the rose bush. This conserves moisture and protects the rose roots.

Step 5

Move the potted rose bush into an unheated area protected from frost and drying winds. An area with low light, such as an unheated garage or shed, can act as winter storage for potted rose plants. Return the roses to the outside once spring arrives.

Tips and Warnings

  • Stop fertilizing roses 6 weeks before the first frost date. Late feeding of roses produces new, tender growth that will be damaged by frost.

Things You'll Need

  • Potted rose plant
  • Pruning shears
  • Water
  • Straw or pine needle mulch


  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service/Aggie Horticulture: Rose Gardening in Containers
  • University of Michigan: Why Grow Roses in Containers?
  • Washington State University Clark County Extension: Growing Roses in Containers

Who Can Help

  • Clemson University Extension: Growing Roses
  • Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Growing Roses in Containers
Keywords: potted rose plants, rose winter care, potted rose care

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.