Winter Care for Rose Bushes


As someone who grows roses, you may look forward to masses of bright, fragrant blossoms in the spring and summer. Unfortunately, many roses can suffer and die during the cold winter months. Without proper care, these blossoming bushes may freeze before the spring temperatures begin to warm up the soil. Proper care of your rose bushes prior to the onset of winter can protect them during the frigid temperatures and prepare them for abundant growth in the spring.

Step 1

Prune your rose bushes after the flowers wilt and the leaves begin to drop in the late fall. This signifies the beginning of the dormancy period. Look for any broken branches or diseased sections of your rose bushes. Trim these off the plant a couple of inches above the damage to ensure only healthy segments remain. Check your rose bush for the appearance of crowded branches that cross over one another. Snip off the weakest branch below the point where it crosses another branch. Cut out any new suckers that form near the surface of the soil. Shape your rose bush to maintain the desired size and appearance. Avoid heavy pruning by removing less than one-third of the bush when pruning.

Step 2

Tie the remaining canes of your rose bushes together with a strong, soft piece of garden twine. Gently gather the tips into a bunch and secure with a few loops of your twine. Leave this twine in place until the ground begins to thaw in the spring.

Step 3

Pile soil around the tied canes with a garden shovel. Take well-drained soil from another part of your landscape to avoid disturbing the roots. Make your mounds about 10 inches high around the bases of your rose bushes.

Step 4

Place a loop of chicken wire around each of your rose bushes. Leave about four to five inches of space between the branches of your rose bush and the edges of the wire cylinder. Hold the chicken wire cylinder in place with a couple of garden stakes. Fill the cylinder with clean straw or raked leaves to provide a layer of insulation between the rose bushes and the winter air. Remove this mulch as soon as the temperatures begin to warm in the springtime.

Tips and Warnings

  • Dip your pruning shears in a solution of bleach water to kill germs when cutting diseased limbs on rose bushes. Mix about one tsp. of bleach with 10 tsp. of water to avoid transferring the disease from plant to plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Twine
  • Shovel
  • Soil
  • Chicken wire
  • Garden stakes


  • Ohio State University: Fertilizing, Pruning and Winterizing Roses
  • "Botanica's Gardening Encyclopedia"; Susan Page, 2001
  • Iowa State University: Prepare Your Roses for Winter

Who Can Help

  • North Dakota State University: Roses
Keywords: winterize rose bushes, fall rose care, mulch roses

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.