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Preparing Roses and Hydrangeas for Winter

October 19, 2023


As the vibrant blooms of summer surrender to the crisp embrace of winter, it’s time to ensure that your roses and hydrangeas are well-prepared for the seasonal shift. Proper winter care not only safeguards your plants but also sets the stage for stunning growth in the spring.

Preparing Roses for Winter:

With their delicate petals and graceful foliage, roses require careful attention as winter approaches. The level of care depends on the type of rose and your local Hardiness zone. Most rose varieties can survive in zone 7 or above; however, by being proactive and winterizing your roses, they can thrive throughout the winter. 


Tender roses such as Grandiflora, Hybrid Tea, and Floribunda demand more support throughout the winter to thrive in spring and summer. 

General Rose Care:
  • Clean the Garden: Start by tidying up the area around your roses. While a thorough cleanup is essential, leave some spaces untouched. These will provide refuge for beneficial bugs and pollinators, sustaining your garden’s ecosystem.
  • Deadhead Struggling Flowers: Remove wilting or browning flowers. If your roses have no flowers needing removal, consider a gentle pruning to maintain their shape.
  • Prune for Strength: Particularly crucial for climbing roses, selective pruning helps the plants focus their energy. Trim the canes to about 3-4 feet in height to encourage new growth in spring.
  • Cease Fertilization: Stop fertilizing your roses in late fall. You don’t want residual fertilizer affecting the plant during dormancy. Ensure you discontinue fertilization at least six weeks before the ground freezes.
Protective Measures for Winterizing:
  • Burlap Wrap: Secure burlap from the top to the base of the roses to provide insulation and protection.
  • Cane Binding: Safeguard the canes by binding them with twine, chicken wire, or similar materials. These should protect the plant while not harming the canes, especially against strong winter winds.
  • Rose Cones: Rose cones act as individual shelters that shield the plants from the harshness of winter.
  • Tip and Bury: An unconventional method but effective. Tipping the plant and burying it underground prevents exposure to extreme cold, insulating it from harsh winter conditions.
  • Soil Insulation: Insulate the plant base with a layer of soil. Some gardeners suggest surrounding the base with evergreens, as their acidity can benefit the soil and rose plants.


Preparing Hydrangeas for Winter:

Hydrangeas, known for their magnificent blooms, require particular attention, especially with our Canadian winters. Proper care ensures that you maximize the beauty of their blooms in the spring and summer.

  • Know Your Hydrangea Type: Understanding when your hydrangea blooms is crucial. Some, like smooth or panicle hydrangeas, require extra care.
  • Winter Insulation: In late fall, after the ground freezes, mound shredded leaves or bark mulch around the base of the plant to provide protection and insulation against the harsh winter.
  • Hydration Matters: Ensure your hydrangeas are deeply watered a few times in the fall. Winter winds can be incredibly drying for these plants.
  • Pruning Considerations: While pruning can be tempting, it’s best to avoid during this time. Pruning may remove flower buds for the next growing season. Additionally, old flowers can add interest to the winter landscape.
  • Potted Hydrangeas: If you have potted hydrangeas, consider overwintering them indoors in a cool but frost-free location, such as a garage or basement, to mimic the dormancy period. Water them about once a month to keep the roots moist until spring.

By giving your roses and hydrangeas the attention, they deserve during the winter transition, you’re protecting these stunning plants and ensuring a beautiful and thriving garden when spring graces your landscape once again. Enjoy the restful winter, knowing you’ve set the stage for a vibrant garden.