Fall & Winter Rose Care Guide

Fall in the rose garden

Fall in the rose garden

Fall is a great time to take stock of the gardening year behind us. What worked and what didn’t. What should be changed or should remain the same.  Here in zone 8a, my roses begin to wind down for the year in late October and we occasionally see blooms as late as Thanksgiving.  As they begin the process of going dormant, there are a few things to consider:

  • Halt fertilizers about 6 weeks prior to 1st predicted frost in your area to protect any tender new growth from being damaged by frost and freeze.
  • Winter winds are often harsh and can damage not only the canes of roses, but will “rock” the rose bush at its roots and can cause damage. Trim roses that have grown tall by 1/3 to prevent winter wind damage.
Trim tall roses in fall to prevent wind damage

Trim tall roses in fall to prevent wind damage

  • Clear garden beds of debris – especially any diseased leaves that may have fallen from your roses. This practice will help curb problems in spring. fungal disease will over winter in your garden and will be there to greet you is your don’t remove it…. Once the temps fall below freezing on a regular basis, you can apply a dormant spray. I use lime sulfur.  It will kill fungus on contact. I spray it on the ground and on every inch of the shrub. I have found that this one thing can help you start off the year with a disease free rose bed.  Also, never place diseased rose leaves in your compost bin. They should be removed all together from your gardens space.
Fungal disease will remain in your garden until you remove it.

Fungal disease will remain in your garden until you remove it.

  • Allow your roses to form hips. Hips provide color in the garden, are a good source of vitamin C for birds and like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips send is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season.
  • By fall, the mulch you applied in spring needs to be reapplied. I add about an additional one inch layer to my beds. In colder climates, your roses may need additional protection. Mounding up mulch around the base of the rose will help. Throughout the year, mulch keeps weeds down and holds moisture in at the base of the plant where it’s needed.
  • Fall is an excellent time to remove any roses that are not healthy. Roses are a resilliant lot. If a particular shrub requires a lot of care, remove it. You and your garden will be happier.
  • Check out all the new roses coming out for the next year. In zone 8a, we plant roses in fall. Excellent bargains can be found in many home and garden centers. 
  • The Rose Chat Podcast is a great way to learn about new roses for the year. Listen on the go via iTunes or Stitcher apps FREE! Listen online at RoseChatPodcast.com

These few simple steps will help you create and maintain a beautiful garden space for roses.


26 Responses to Fall & Winter Rose Care Guide

  1. Thanks for all the tips! What a wonderful blog and wonderful rose-filled life.


  2. Pingback: Fall & Winter Rose Care Guide | All Things ...

  3. roseman7stan says:

    Great article Chris!!


  4. Rita says:

    I live in KS and wondered if moving my roses from my current residence to my new residence would be ok this time of year?


    • yes, you should be good to move them now.


      • Rita says:

        Thank you. Are there any particular specific things I should be aware of? How far out from the base of the plants should I start and how deep? If I clip a root or two will it hurt them? The ones I want to move were planted by my husband and I. They are called fire fighter reds and he has since passed and he was also a fire fighter, so they hold very special sentimental value to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rita, Firefighter is a beautiful rose and I can imagine how much it means to you. I would prune the rose back quite a bit. You want the plant to concentrate on settling into a new space rather than producing blooms. I would dig out the root ball at least 12-14″ around and down. The more roots you can take with you the better. If the you snap a few roots it should not be a problem. I use composted cow manure when planting to help promote root growth. You can get it at Lowe’s called “Black Kow”. Hope this helps. Please let me know how this rose is doing. Would love to see pictures of it….. Blessings to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Rita says:

    Oh thank you SO very much for your help! Exactly the info I was wanting and needing! I have the manure, several tons in a large pile here already…with a little horse mixed in. It is nice and black. I am going to take several bags with me and re-do all the flower bed areas with it.
    I have never smelled a rose quite like the Firefighter and it’s blooms are magnificent as well.
    Mike’s grandmother had amazing rose gardens and Mike always wanted lots of roses like her and we had made a good start here, so will take what I can, but for SURE those! I will try to remember pictures for you next year 🙂


  6. Rita says:

    I must also thank Kathy Linton of Arbor and Vine for recommending you!!!


  7. ginnytalbert says:

    thanks for this fall checklist for the roses. I don’t have but a few roses and am still learning about them.


  8. elenawill says:

    Fabulous advice! I am a big proponent of doing a good fall clean up to curtail a disease and insects next spring.


  9. Dea says:

    I just found your site by way of The Grumpy Gardener, and I am so glad I did. This info speaks to the Houston area too (although we are in zone 9a, so we wait to plant our roses until February). I have two Dame du Coeur reds, and just hate them! They are scraggly and thorny (I have the scars to prove it!) and have no fragrance at all, so they are coming OUT this year. I like the antiques/heritages best, so am looking for recommendations for the February planting. My Katy Road Pinks (okay, okay — Carefree Beauty) are doing well and have great fragrance. They’re already starting to set hips.


    • Hey! Thanks for stopping by. So glad you found me. The Apothecary Rose, Maggie (bourbon), Cramoisi Superieur (China) comes to mind for reds.
      Belinda’s dream and also mutabilis are awesome Earth Kind varieties. Hope this helps! Happy Holidays to yoU!


  10. Wes says:

    Great info!!! Just what I needed going into fall! Thanks Chris!


  11. elenawill says:

    We all need to be reminded of these tip during fall. Thank you!


  12. Norma Koonce says:

    I have a couple of hybrid tea roses but have decided to prepare an area in my yard specifically for roses. Since it is now December when should I plant new roses?


  13. Linda B says:

    I loved your blog. This was my first time here but I will be back!


  14. Mary Clark says:

    My knockout roses are planted in a container/pot. How would you suggest I prepare for winter?
    I’m in zone 7. I’ve been told not to prune at all until spring and to move them inside to a dark area. What do you think?


  15. rani2014 says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I must get out there and trim some of those long canes so that the roots will not get winter damage.


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