How to Overwinter Potted Rose Plants


Proper care keeps your rose plants healthy and disease-free during the growing season. This increases the winter tolerance of your rose plants. Roses need protection in order to survive winter conditions in most areas. The best time to winterize is in late fall once your rose bush has gone dormant. In a container, a rose plant's roots are in danger of freezing. A rose bush planted in the ground has the insulation of the surrounding soil for protection. As the air around the container drops, so does the temperature of the rootball.

Step 1

Cut the rose canes back to a length of 30 to 36 inches with clean, sharp pruning shears. Remove any dead canes.

Step 2

Tie the tips together with a strong piece of twine to help reduce breakage during winter storms.

Step 3

Remove dead and fallen leaves from the container. Discarding the debris from the rose plant will help get rid of any plant disease or pests hiding in the leaves.

Step 4

Dig a trench in the ground that is as wide as the container and just as deep. Place the rose plant into the trench and water well. This is to prevent the soil from going bone dry during the winter.

Step 5

Cover the container with mulch or soil to protect the root system. Some mulches to use include leaves, straw and wood chips. Once the trench is filled in, then create a 12-inch tall mound of mulch that is 12 inches wide covering the bottom portion of the rose plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwinter rose plants in clay pots. Clay pots can crack if retained moisture in the clay freezes. Remove your rose plant from the clay pot and place the rootball directly in the trench.

Things You'll Need

  • Rose plant in a container
  • Pruning shears
  • Twine
  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • Ohio State University Extension Factsheet: Gardening in Containers
  • University of Rhodes Island GreenShare Factsheets: Winter Protection for Hybrid Tea Roses
  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Roses
Keywords: roses, potted rose plants, overwinter roses, winterizing roses

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.