This year, winter winds are blowing at a gale force in Alabama and the polar vortex of 2014 is taking its toll on my garden. All this cold has me thinking about winter rose care. It is important to remember to trim back your roses to about waist high to prevent winter wind damage from affecting the canes and rocking the rose back and forth, damaging the root system of the rose, which can ultimately kill the shrub. This process should not be confused with pruning which requires a much more severe cut back of the rose. This will merely prevent wind rock from occurring.
Our shrubs of Benjamin Britten, a beautiful orange red David Austin English rose grows quite tall in summer, often reaching 9ft high! This rose is very thorny, so it’s important to “suit up” with long sleeves and gauntlet gloves to complete the task of trimming them down to a good size for winter.
As you can see from the photo, I start on the outer edge and work my way into the center of the shrub. This cuts down on the likelihood of getting entangled in the rose… (not that this has ever happened to me. Ha! )
One of the other problems that you will see if you don’t trim your roses back, is damage to the canes caused from the wind whipping them around.
You can see here the damage caused by wind to the canes is the result of being tossed back and forth. If left unattended, this open wound will likely cause the cane above the wound to die and is a harbinger for disease. I trimmed below this damaged area and we should be good to go come spring.
Now to apply dormant spray, and these beauties will be ready for spring!