Roses are delicate flowers, and during the winter months their skeletons need protection from wind, frost and heavy rains or snow. Rose plants, according to Iowa State University, usually become dormant in late October to early November and need special care from this point forward. Covering roses for the winter protects the plant from cold weather, but there are several preparatory measures to perform to keep the canes from breaking under the pressure of snow before covering.
Prune the canes gently to remove any dead or broken branches, and to reduce the height before covering, notes the University of Illinois Extension. Cut roses back to a uniform height, between 12 and 24 inches, at nodes.
Tie the rose canes together with twine to keep winds from breaking them during the winter months.
Pile a loose, well draining compost mix over the rose bush to a height of 10 to 12 inches to cover most of the canes.
Cover the soil mound once it has frozen with another 10 to 12 inches of straw or leaves to keep the pile isolated and frozen throughout the winter, protecting the plant.