How to Care for Knockout Roses in the Winter


Knockout roses are prized as a low-maintenance but prolifically blooming rose shrub. The Knockout produces fresh blooms as six-week intervals from spring until fall, flowering in shades of pink or red. This rose was bred to require only minimal care. Unlike some other rose varieties, Knockout roses are cold-hardy and usually survive winter unscathed. You can further ensure these rose shrubs return to their former glory each spring by taking some time in fall to prepare the roses for the cold months.

Step 1

Remove dead and damaged canes from the Knockout rose plant in late fall once the bush has gone dormant. Cut the canes from the main plant at their base with pruning shears. Broken and dead canes can harbor disease organisms or pests during the winter.

Step 2

Apply a winter mulch to the base of the rose bush after the ground has begun to freeze in late fall or early winter. Use dead leaves or straw mulch. Mound the mulch over the crown of the rose bush, which is where the stems emerge from the roots system at the base of the plant. Knockout roses are frost tolerant, but mulch helps prevent winter burn from freezing winds.

Step 3

Prune out winter-damaged branches in late winter just before new growth begins on the Knockout bush. Shape the remaining canes with the shears into the desired final form for the rose bush.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't water the Knockout roses, even during brief spells of warmer winter weather. Too much water in the soil can lead to rot when the plant is dormant.

Things You'll Need

  • Shears
  • Mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension: Fall Cleanup
  • Texas A&M Extension: Knockout Roses
Keywords: Knockout rose care, winter rose care, maintaining Knockout roses

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.