Fall Care of Shrub Roses
With the winter season drawing near, many people with roses are calling to find out what fall care should be done to best get their roses thru the winter. What needs to be done depends on the type of roses you have. Roses can be divided into different categories such as floribunda, tea, grandiflora, hardy shrub, ect.
Since the topic of this article is the fall care of shrub roses we will not discuss the needs of the other rose types. Many of the roses in the other categories will need to be given proper winter protection or they will not survive. As we only sell shrub roses at Johnson's Nursery we will stick to that category. While I personally grow tea roses in my own yard(along with many shrub rose varieties) & extremely enjoy them, here at Johnson's we promote & sell "hardy" shrub roses because they are far easier & less time consuming to care for.
"Hardy" is a relative term with plants. Not all shrub roses offered in the U.S. are winter hardy in our part of the country. Over time & with experience we offer shrub rose varieties that will survive most winters in our part of Wisconsin. Sometimes even a so called "hardy shrub rose" can occasionally have winter die-back in a severe winter. With this in mind many shrub roses are now being grown "own root" instead of being budded onto a rootstock. This works better because if severe winter dieback would occur all the way to the ground the plants roots would still be alive & would flush new growth in the spring.
There really is not much fall care needed for hardy shrub roses! They do not need to be covered. I would suggest not fall pruning them but wait until spring as any possible cane breakage from snowpack or damage from rabbit/mice would have to be addressed at that time. Pruning in spring is a very essential step to good rose care & I will do an article on rose pruning at that time as so many people neglect this issue. Shrub roses may be low maintenance but not maintenance free!
If you had any problems on your shrub roses this past summer/fall with black spot then you should be sure you clean up all leaves that drop from your roses & dispose of . This is a good sanitation practice as the organism that causes black spot can overwinter on infected leaves that are on the ground & infect your rose again next year if conditions are right. Some people also suggest spraying the plants when dormant this fall with a lime/sulphur spray IF you had severe problems with blackspot. Again let me affirm that this step only needed if blackspot was quite severe!
So there you have it! Don't prune or cover. Clean up the leaves & you are done. This is why we promote hardy shrub roses for the landscape. Beautiful flowers & low maintenance.
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.