Rose Frequently Asked Questions

This page is designed to answer basic questions about growing roses. If you have a question that you don’t see answered here, please email us and we’ll add it and the answer. Thanks to our consulting rosarians for filling in the blanks for us!

When should I remove the winter protection ?

Remove winter protection in the Twin Cities about April 15th. The night temperatures are usually above 20°F after April 15. File your taxes and work off the aggression by getting roses ready for spring. Keep the bushes well watered in the spring to prevent desiccation of canes. (Dave B)

How do I uncover my buried roses?

Just remember that in the early spring the ground is probably frozen so you should remove the leaves (insulation) from over the roses to let the ground thaw before trying to bring the roses up. Generally if the leaves are removed from the tipping site about 10 days prior to bringing the roses up, the ground will be thawed. Don’t try to bring the roses up through the frozen ground as the canes break. (Dave B)

What rose bushes need winter protection?

In the Twin Cities area, all ‘tender’roses (hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, and miniatures) need heavy winter protection. Shrub roses listed as ‘hardy’ in the catalogs may need winter protection too. Hardy may include die-back to the ground and is variety specific. Contact a consulting rosarian for specific variety information. (Dave B)

In the Twin Cities area when should winter protection be in place?

Winter protection is necessary when the night temperatures go below 20°F. In the Twin Cities area this is usually about October 15th. Be sure that the winter protection is complete before the first snowfall or it won’t get done. The Halloween snowfall of 12 inches a few years ago caught several rose growers without winter protection. This year (2002) had a later time period but the rapid temperature drop around Christmas probably caught some rosarians without winter protection. (Dave B)

When can I prune climbers?

August is a good time to prune your climbers. Tie errant canes to the trellis or arbor. Feed heavily in July with Woodies or another granular fertilizer and then weekly or every 10 days with fish emulsion, or any foliar feed. This will encourage a great August -September bloom. (Penny)

How do I choose the right place for my rose bed?

You need 6 hours of sunlight, and a good sandy loam Whenever I look around my back yard, I have no trees that look like they would interfere with my sunlight. In Spring, they don’t but during the summer after the trees leaf out and the sun changes its trajectory, I get shade from my neighbor’s garage and the neighborhood trees. My advice is to start watching the sun now during all hours of the day. Look for places that have shadows. Be aware of how the sun trajectory changes because it is higher in the sky during the summer. (Carole)

How do I test my soil?

You can pick up a soil kit at most garden centers. Or check out Soil Test Lab. You take dirt from several spots in the rose bed, mix it together and fill the bag with the correct amount of soil. Fill out the form and send the form and bag to the University of Minnesota. Several years ago, I had 10 yards of black dirt brought in to help raise my beds in the backyard. My roses by the house always did better than those in the new bed. The soil test confirmed that my pH was way too high. (Carole & Gabe)

What special care do rose cones require?

During the early winter and early spring, the sun can make the temperature inside rose cones rise tremendously. You might need to let air get in and circulate by punching holes near the top of the cone or removing it during the daytime. Before learning how to MN Tip my roses I used cones and every Spring I would find mold and mildew on the canes. If we have an unseasonable warm Spring, I might start uncovering my bushes (removing the mulch) earlier than normal. When you do bring your roses up, remember that the canes are more tender that they were last fall and that the wind can do as much damage to the bushes as the cold winter. You can spray the canes with water or you might use an anti-transpirant such as Cloud Cover or Wilt-Pruf. (Carole)

What kind of a hole do I need to plant my rose?

To grow good roses you need to dig big holes. My goal is to have a hole 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep. I thought I was digging good holes. Then I read a tip in the ARS magazine that suggested using a planting stick to measure the size of the hole. I thought it was kind of silly but I decided to give it a try. I marked off a dowel with a peice of duct tape at 18 and 24 inches. I then dug the size hole I had normally dug for the last 16 years to plant my roses. You guessed it I came up with the short end of the stick. I placed the stick in the hole length wise and was 4 inches too shallow. I placed the stick across the hole and was 5 inches too narrow. My rose holes were not nearly big enough. I won’t dig another hole without my trusty rose planting stick again. Small holes do not allow rose roots to properly expand and could stunt the growth of the rose. Lesson learned. (Penny)

How do I winter protect climbers?

When burying tall plants (i.e. climbers) and you don’t want to cut the nice long canes back, put several 6 foot long wooden 1×1 stakes in with the canes and tie the canes to them. then in when you bring the roses up in the spring, the stakes help support the canes and you won’t break any long canes, or not as many. worked well for me. (Gabe)

What should I do to protect roses I’ve just uncovered?

In the spring when you uncover your roses, spray them with an anti-transpirant such as wiltpruf as soon as you bring them up and have washed off all the dirt from the canes. It helps keep your rose canes from drying out in the sun and wind before they start to develop leaves. I even apply a fungicide before I spray them with wiltproof. (Gabe)