Tree Rose ~ Winter Prep

Asked July 6, 2016, 4:09 PM EDT

Hi; I have 1pc. of a 2-3ft. watercolor home run tree rose and 2pcs. of 24" Yabba Dabba Doo Tree Rose. This is the first year I have planted them and they are doing well. I am looking for information on how and when to prepare them for winter. I live in Walnutport, Lehigh Valley PA. Thank you in advance. Pam

Northampton County Pennsylvania roses winter prep

5 Responses

Here is a link to a nice video by horticulturist John Fech at Fine Gardening magazine. Also, here is a link to an article published by the University of Illinois on preparing roses for winter. I hope this helps you. If not, please email me again.

Thank you for your reply. I am looking for directions for specifically a "TREE rose" in the Lehigh Valley, PA a picture is attached.

Here is some advice from a rose specialist.
First, prepare the tree for “cold storage”. If freezing weather has not already caused all foliage to drop, snip off any remaining leaves. Pruning lightly to reduce crown size if you like. Spray entire tree thoroughly with dormant oil, including the surrounding soil. Dormant oil will protect your standard from insects that may try to spend the winter with inside the winter wrapping. Be careful of overspray near the house, dormant oil can sometimes stain siding. Inspect the trunk and graft unions for holes or cracks, fill them with grafters wax to further protect from insects. The graft union at the top of the stem is where the two plants are joined. That is the part that needs to be protected for the winter, depending on the climate.

The "Minnesota tip" involves digging a trench, laying the rose down and covering it with soil. The trench must be next to the tree and the roots on the far side have to be loosened to allow the tree to go over.

Before moving on to the most extreme protection method, “caging” your standard has become a common way to protect standards in zone 5, 6 and 7. It would be a good idea to check with other gardeners, local nurseries or your local university extension service to find out if this method is effective in your region. It may, in part, depend on the hardiness of the rose that is grafted to your standard.

  • First apply dormant oil spray as mentioned above.
  • Wrap every possible inch of the trunk and grafts with insulated pipe wrap. It is available in hardware stores in a polyethelene tube that is slit to slip around a pipe, or as a foam “tape” wrap. (It is also available in a fiberglass wrap - don’t use that one.)
  • Next, protect the roots and lower graft by mounding soil a foot high at the base of your tree rose, extending the mound well over the root area. Then mulch it heavily.
  • Then you need to protect the rest of the tree. Form a cylinder around the tree with tall chicken wire fixed around tall stakes. Or fix it securely to the ground with stakes - or the long “staples” made for securing mulching fabric work well. Use the stakes or staples every several inches around the cage so the wind does not catch the cage and pull it out of the ground.
  • Fill the cylinder with shredded oak leaves, straw or other mulching material, completely covering the tree. Do not use hay, it is full of weed seeds, however salt marsh hay is recommended by some gardeners. Just don’t buy a bale of “Halloween” hay, that is strictly for decorative purposes
  • Finally, double wrap the “cage” in burlap or row cover fabric. Secure it with twine tied around at several points up the length of the cage, or with clips. Do not use black landscaping fabric as it attracts heat and may encourage your rose to grow.
  • Some gardeners swear by a wrapping of bubble wrap, covered by burlap to avoid the problems of conductive plastic. The bubble wrap can be used INSTEAD of the cage, but it is more difficult to work with. Generally the bubble wrap is applied in an inverted cone shape secured below the top graft. Bubble wrap should NOT be closed tightly at the top so that air circulation is not completely inhibited, and heat from sunny days gets trapped.

If you have a variety that in shrub form is hardy in zone 5 or 6, this method should protect the tree form adequately in zone 4. But, be sure and ask the “locals” for advice.

Thank you.

You're welcome. If you have any more questions, please let us know.