Wintering Tea Roses
How do I prepare my tea roses for winter?
—Jodie Rose, Toledo, Ohio
Nothing is lovelier than a rose, but a tough winter can steal its beauty...and even its life. That's why Northern hybrid tea rose growers need to give their plants a helping hand once winter sets in.
Although there are several methods out there, timing is ultimately the key to success. Wait for a week of consistently freezing temperatures before covering your plants.
Mounding soil around the rose canes is a method many gardeners use. Loosely tie the canes, and cover the base of the rose with 8 to 10 inches of soil. Once the soil freezes, mulch the soil mound and rose with straw or evergreen boughs. Styrofoam rose cones, available at garden centers, can also be used, but be sure they're vented.
The Minnesota method involves carefully tipping the rose onto its side and burying it for winter. It has a high percentage of success but does require space, extra soil and time.
You may also encircle your rose bed with hardware cloth sunk into the ground prior to freezing. Then spread a 3-foot layer of dry leaves over the plants after the soil freezes.
In spring, remove any dead canes (they have brown centers), and prune the remaining plant back to 18 to 24 inches.