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Roses in winter?

by Madeleine

Rosa rugosa

Rosa rugosa

I live in Canada where it's freezing in winter -30 degrees Celsius. I have a hybrid rugosa rose plant in a large pot and a white drift rose Bush in a pot. What do I have to do with them for winter? Can they stay in the pots? Can I protect them in the pots and leave them outside?
Thank you

Comments for Roses in winter?

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Sep 18, 2020
Rosa rugosa
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

There are many hybrid roses using Rosa rugosa as one of the parents, due to its hardiness and disease resistance. Not all hybrids are created equally, however. One of the myths of the hardiness of the Explorer series of roses, among others, is that they can withstand the worst of Canadian weather, and still pop up smiling in the spring.

The actual fact of it is, that the roots are not as hardy as the top growth of the plant, leaving them vulnerable to freezing temperatures, especially if they go into winter with wet soil.

To overwinter them successfully, the roots will need some protection - one of the best ways is to dig the plant up out of the container, and heel it into a pile of sawdust, or actually plant it in the ground.

If you prefer to leave them in the pots, make a chicken wire fence about a foot or two bigger than the pot on all sides, then fill in between the two with leaves or sawdust. This protects the soil from thawing and re-freezing.

Caveat; if you really like the pot, do the first option, dry the pot out and store it undercover to prevent it from cracking in frost.

Sep 18, 2020
Thank you
by: Madeleine

Thank you and your answer is line with what the garden centre was promising - the roses will come back next year or I will be reimbursed but one still needs to know how to protect them. As you say, the best solution is to plant them in the ground. Thanks to you, I now know that I have to protect the roots.
Thank you!

Sep 19, 2020
You're Welcome
by: Jacki

Madeleine, the reason I know about this is that back when I first took my Ornamental Horticulture Certificate I worked for Adamsons Heritage Nursery in Langley, BC, and that area had just had a really harsh winter.

All the hardy roses that he produced (thousands of them) that were in one gallon pots set on sawdust beds died. That was a very discouraging start to my career, watching wagon after wagon of dead roses going by my propagation office. After that, my boss changed the program, and spent weeks preparing the roses for winter by raking sawdust up to the top of the pots - no more winter death!

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