Some species and hybrids of roses are more winter hardy than others and can more easily survive the harshest of winters with a little help from the gardener. While container roses can simply be moved to a protected area, other types need a lot of care to prevent hard freeze damage and the breakage and drying effects of winter winds. Extreme fluctuations in temperature are another hazard to roses that can cause unrecoverable damage.
Protect the rose bush from being subjected to alternate freezing and thawing that will cause damage by bringing in additional dirt and mounding it around the base of the bush. Use at least 6 to 8 inches of compost or loose soil to build up the protection, and leave it in place until spring. Remove the soil over a period of three weeks in the spring when the soil starts to thaw. The slow removal will leave some protection in the case of an unexpected late frost that could cause damage to new root growth.
Protect the canes of the rose bush from breakage from winter winds by cutting them back to half of their height. When pruning, make the cuts at a 45-degree angle. Tie the canes together with twine. Lay canes of climbing roses on the ground and cover them with 4 to 6 inches of organic mulch or well drained soil to protect them from extreme temperature changes and drying winds. If this is not an option because of cane length or space limitations, wrap the canes in burlap.
Other types of roses can be protected with rose caps, tar-paper cones, or even shielded with a basket. Some gardeners build a wire mesh around the rose bush and fill it with mulch.
Protect from Disease
Disease spores and insect eggs can survive the winter in debris left in the garden, ready to attack the fresh new growth of the rose bush in the spring. The time to work to prevent the damage is in the late fall after the garden has been prepared for winter. Immediately dispose of any cuttings or other debris left from the harvest. Water the area of the rose garden after the cleanup as the roots of the rose are active well into winter.