Saturday Series 9/9/17, A Change Of Season Means Plan and Prepare!

Fall Planning And Planting

By the time fall rolls around and the leaves start to change many rose gardeners hang up their spades and gloves and are ready to snuggle up with a book and warm drink as they anticipate the coming winter. However, there is one final opportunity to get your hands back in the dirt before winter truly sets in, and that is fall planting. We at Heirloom Roses believe fall is one of the best times to plant roses. Fall is the time when your yard is fully established, and it is easy to see where a rose would best fit into the landscape. Also, fall planting gives the rose time to establish itself before the coming season of bloom and foliage production. This extra amount of time gives the rose a head start and will in fact increase the rose’s growth and blooms throughout the next season. This little step makes a big difference in ensuring your garden is rose-ready in the spring. Before you put on your garden shoes and rush out to plant those last few roses before winter arrives, here are a few things you should know. These tips will help to produce healthy roses with beautiful blooms, and we join you in your anticipation of the first blooms of spring.

  • Roses need to be in the ground at least six weeks before your first frost.
  • The most important thing for your rose once it is planted is for it to develop a strong root system.The key for a rose’s success during fall planting is root development. To encourage root development, we recommend using bone meal around the base of the plant and mixed in the soil.
  • Do not prune your rose. Pruning a rose promotes growth, and leading into fall it is best to let your rose go dormant with the changes in weather. New growth is more susceptible to frost damage.
  • A thick layer of mulch is the best protection you can give your young plant for the coming winter, and mulch will act like a warm winter coat for the roots. A 2- to 3- inch layer is sufficient in most areas.


Now that we’ve talked about planting new roses, it's time to discuss what to do with the roses you already have but may want to move to a different location. Transplanting roses is not a complicated task, although it can demand a bit of elbow grease to accomplish. Before you begin digging, cut the rose back to approximately 12” to make it easy to manage and get the basic pruning out of the way. The most important thing to remember about transplanting a rose is to dig big holes, both around the rose as you extract it and at the new site you will be planting in. This will ensure you save as much of the rose’s root structure which will help the rose reestablish itself in its new location. Amend the soil in the hole before you plant with some peat moss, aged cow manure, and bone meal to ensure the rose gets all the nutrients it needs. In addition, the application of vitamin B1, an organic ingredient found in kelp, is a great aid in the transplanting process. Once the rose is secure in its new home, water it in well, but do not fertilize until you see new growth next spring. Transplanting your rose places extra stress on the plant so it is crucial to give it all the help you can throughout the process. Following these guidelines is an excellent way to ensure your rose is off to a great start in its new location.

Essential Steps To A Healthier Spring

While your blooms may be slowing for the season, this is not the time to forget about your roses. Here are some essential fall tasks to ensure your roses will be ready to put on a show next season.

  • Stop deadheading 8 to 10 weeks before the first frost. This will harden off your roses, allowing tender new growth necessary time to toughen prior to potentially damaging cold weather. If your roses have hips, allow them to develop naturally.
  • Rake up and destroy all leaves at the base of roses. Do not compost, as this could spread pathogens. Many fungal diseases that affect roses overwinter on the rose or as litter on the ground. Removing this material will reduce problems the following spring.
  • Clip off diseased leaves from the bush. Do not pull leaves off as pulling leaves off can create small tears along the stem and provide an entry point for disease.
  • Prune off failed buds (called balling) that did not open due to rainy conditions. This will help to prevent botrytis dieback.
  • Review all roses for crossed or thin canes that can whip against each other, causing stem wounds from thorns. Remove as needed.
  • Prune off overgrowth on climbing roses and tie securely to structures to prevent top-heavy canes from breaking in the wind. Top off taller hybrid teas or shrub roses at 4 to 5 feet to reduce wind damage risk. In colder climates, the combination of rocking in the wind with freeze/thaw cycles can completely uproot the rose from the ground.
  • Apply compost or mulch around the base of roses. Mulching provides valuable nutrients as well as an insulating layer that will protect roses during cold snaps.
  • Mound compost around the base of roses in extremely cold zones. In spring, spread the mulch out into the bed, away from the base of the plant.

What is My Zone/How Late to Plant

While roses, especially own-root roses, are much hardier than many give them credit for, it is still very important to only grow roses in a location where they will thrive. These geographical locations are known as hardiness zones, and are marked according to the average minimum temperature that geographical area records. Each rose has been tested and approved for a specific range of geographical zones. We recommend the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map as an excellent tool for determining which zone you live in. Once you have found your zone, you can begin selecting roses that will perform well where you live. As you make your selections, keep in mind own-root roses are often the best choice, especially if you live in an extreme climate, because they grow back true to variety even after suffering freeze damage. Also, roses must be in the ground at least six weeks before the first frost in the fall to ensure they are established enough to endure the coming winter. Doing your research to make sure you choose the correct rose variety for your plant hardiness zone is essential to creating a healthy and vibrant garden.

Need Some Extra Hardiness?

Many areas of the country dip down into some very low temperatures and require extra hardiness in their roses. Winter Hardy roses are typically resilient in extreme climates and are also very drought tolerant. Most are continually blooming and require low maintenance while offering exceptional disease resistance. This rose variety is perfect for the novice and experienced gardener alike!