top of page

How to Winterize Your Container Roses in 5 Simple Steps

If you're reading this then you may be looking for ways to ensure your roses have the best chance to survive the winter months. And, if you have roses in containers like I do, it brings a whole other layer of concern and question of, "have I done enough to help keep them alive?"

Yellow Rose

USDA Hardiness zone 8, where I reside, is not generally one that sees harsh winters or temperatures below freezing for long periods of time. The lows can reach 10-15 degrees F, but for most of the winter it is mild and above freezing.

While roses endure colder weather more easily than other garden plants the unexpected drop in temperature or random Arctic cold front can certainly harm them or even kill them if not prepared properly. Know that it is absolutely best if your roses are planted in the ground to give them the greatest chance of survival, but if you have roses in containers there are ways to help increase their success rate.

After talking with a few master gardeners from the Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Service and my local rose society members I was given a short but critical few steps to ensure the roses will make it to spring. Here's how to winterize your container roses in 5 simple steps.

  1. Clear the Leaves: One of the first items is to remove any of the rose leaves that may have dropped into the container. This will help keep any fungal infections from diseased leaves away from the soil.

  2. Add Mulch: Add at least 4-5 inches of an organic mulch to help insulate the roots and provide some nutrients. This will help keep the roots warm and prevent the soil from freezing. I use a pine bark mulch for this. Remember, this is not to fertilize, as fertilizing in fall and early winter can promote new growth that will become damaged and not survive the winter.

  3. Water Appropriately: Before the first frost, give your roses a thorough watering. During the winter, water sparingly. Roses need less water in the colder months, but it’s crucial to prevent the soil from drying out completely. If the temperatures are under 32 degrees F (freezing point), you should water the day before the temperature drops below freezing. This actually applies to all of your plants as the roots will swell as they take up the water and are less likely to freeze.

  4. Assess the Container's Insulation: Begin by ensuring your container is winter-ready. Knowing the weather forecast and being ready for hard freezes will provide you enough time to prepare your containers. Insulating the pot can protect the roots from fluctuating temperatures. Consider wrapping the container in bubble wrap, burlap, or even placing it inside a larger pot filled with insulating material like straw or mulch. Some folks even go as far as to dig a hole and bury their containers in the soil and then remove it in the spring. Of course, only try this if you have space in your garden and your container is moveable and small enough to accomplish this.

  5. Choose the Right Location: If possible, move the container to a sheltered location, maybe a garage or a greenhouse. If those are not accessible to you, you could try to move them to an area against the south side of your house or under a covered area. The goal is to protect the plant from harsh winds and excessive moisture. Mine are also set on raised tables so they are not directly on the ground which helps them drain better. If your containers are big and too heavy to move, understand that you might need more insulation like burlap or even towels to wrap the containers to ensure survivability.

Additional Tips and Suggestions to help Winterize Your Container Roses

Variety Selection: Choose rose varieties known for their hardiness in your Zone. Some roses are more tolerant of cold temperatures than others, click the US map above and search your zip code to find out exactly which hardiness zone you reside.

Use Quality Soil: Ensure your roses are planted in well-draining soil. This helps prevent root rot, which can be exacerbated by wet winter conditions.

Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Keep an eye out for any signs of disease or pest infestation throughout the winter, as these can weaken the plant.

  • Dormant Oils: These are applied in late fall or early winter to smother overwintering pests and their eggs.

  • Application: Follow the product instructions, ensuring temperatures are above freezing and there’s no rain forecast for 24 hours.

  • Anti-Fungal Sprays: Preventative sprays can be used to combat common fungal issues like black spot or powdery mildew.

  • Timing: Apply these sprays in late fall and again in early spring before new growth begins.

By following these steps and tips, your container roses should not only survive the winter but also thrive and bloom beautifully in the spring. Remember, consistent care and attention are key to the health of your roses year-round. Good luck this winter and send me a snapshot of your beautiful spring roses!

24 views0 comments


bottom of page