Mild Winter Not All That Rosy for Rosebushes
The mild, dry winter and warm spring may have been good for getting an early start in the garden, but it hasn’t been great for roses. KUNC Gardener Tom Throgmorton says your rose bushes may need some extra TLC this year.
Roses didn’t like our past winter. It doesn’t seem to matter if they are hybrid tea, grandifloras or shrub roses. They have a lot of dead canes and need some extra care.
Last fall the weather was mild. Roses didn’t start to go dormant until very late in the fall. Then we had sub-zero temperatures right after the mild fall. That probably damaged some roses.
Winter was mild. Remember those fifty degree days in January and February? All winter we only had a few bad days. Like the sub-zero week in December. That probably damaged some roses, too.
Winter was dry. We had the occasional snow. But we never had a big snow storm. As the temperatures warmed in early spring there wasn’t any soil moisture. That probably damaged some roses, too.
Roses I thought looked fine in March have had to be re-pruned. Cut dead canes down to about one quarter to one half inch above any new growth. If the whole cane is dead, cut it as close to the soil as possible. Leaving a stub is alright. If the rose is dead to the graft union, it won’t come back as the original.
Some roses have one or two strong canes and the rest of the plant needs pruned to within a few inches of the soil. Cut back the strong canes to balance the plant. Prune off one third to one half of the cane.
As temperature warm, feed roses. Use your favorite rose food. Follow the directions and more is not better. As they grow they may need some extra summer pruning to shape and balance the plant.
Mother’s Day is a good time to replace any roses that the winter and spring killed. Try one of the All American Rose Selections winners.
If you want a rose you can treat like any other shrub but it get rose flowers, try a hardy shrub rose. A couple roses to look for are `Winnipeg Parks’ or `Morden Sunrise’.