Yes, its true. Hard to believe maybe, but true. Come winter. Come that dormant chilling winter air, I must strip all my roses bushes of their leaves in anticipation of spring….. Some call me crazy. Some ask why. To me, it’s just good rose culture.
It’s also preventive medicine. Mold spores that cause blackspot and other rose maladies will over winter in your garden awaiting spring. If not taken care of, they will surprise you with a full show of trouble when the weather breaks. I use two methods to try and rid myself of this problem while my roses are dormant.
- Stripping the Canes: I strip every leaf off of every cane of every rose I have. With over 125 roses under cultivation, this task is not accomplished in a day. I strip about 10 shrubs a day until finished. I gather all the stripped leaves and any fallen leaves from around the roses and remove them completely from the garden.
- Apply Dormant Spray: Once all leaves are stripped, I apply a dormant spray such as lime sulfur to my leafless shrubs. I also spray the ground all around each rose. This will kill any mold spores on contact. As with any dormant sprays, only use them while your roses are dormant. Using during the growing season, can cause the death of your plant. (RIP, ‘Just Joey’)
Some say overkill. Perhaps. But, I can tell you I have far less disease problems in spring and summer by completing these two tasks in winter. I would say 75% less. I think its well worth it for blooms like this: