Mounding Roses For Winter Protection


By: Stan V. Griep, American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian, Rocky Mountain District

Mounding of rose bushes for winter is a something all rose loving gardeners in cold climates need to be familiar with. It will help protect your lovely roses from the winter cold and will result in a bigger and healthier rose the next growing season.

What is Mounding Roses?

Mounding roses is the building up of soil or mulch around the base of a rose bush and up onto the canes to a height of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm.). These mounds of soil or mulch help to keep the rose bush cold once they have gone through some freezing cold days and nights that have caused them to go dormant. I like to think of it as a time when the rose bushes are taking their long winter nap to rest up for a glorious spring.

I use two different types of mounding in my rose beds.

Mounding by Mulching Roses for Winter

In the rose beds where I use my pebble/gravel mulch, I simply use a small hard toothed rake to push the gravel mulch up and around each rose bush to form the protective mounds. These pebble mounds stay in place well all winter long. When spring comes, I rake the mulch back out away from the rose bushes to make a nice even mulch layer throughout the beds once again.

Mounding Rose with Soil for Winter

The rose beds where the roses have shredded cedar mulch around them take a bit more work to mound them. In those areas, the shredded mulch is pulled back away from the rose bushes enough to expose at least a 12 inch (30 cm.) diameter circle around the base of the rose bush. Using either a bagged garden soil, without any fertilizer added to it, or some soil direct from the same garden, I form mounds around each rose bush. The soil mounds are the full 12-inch (30 cm.) diameter at the base and taper down as the mound goes up onto the canes of the rose bush.

I do not want to use any soil that has fertilizer added, as this will stimulate growth, which is something I definitely do not want to do at this time. Early growth when freezing temps are still a strong possibility can kill the rose bushes.

Once the mounds are formed, I water the mounds lightly to settle them in place. The mounds are then covered with some of the mulch that was pulled back from the rose bushes to start the process. Again, lightly water the mounds to help settle the mulch in place. The mulch helps to hold the soil mounds in place by helping to prevent erosion of the mounds by the wet winter snows or the harsh winter winds. In the spring, the mulch and soil can be pulled back separately and the soil used for new plantings or spread back out in the garden. The mulch can be reused as the bottom layer of a fresh mulch application.

Mound Roses with Rose Collars

Another method that is used for the mounding winter protection is by use of rose collars. This is typically a white plastic circle that is about 8 inches (20 cm.) tall. They can be snapped or fitted together to form a plastic circle around the base of the rose bushes. Once in place, the rose collars can be filled with soil or mulch or a mix of the two to form up the mounding protection around the rose bushes. The rose collars prevent the erosion of the mounds of protection very well.

Once they are filled with the mounding materials of choice, water them lightly to settle in the materials used. Adding some more soil and/or mulch may be required to get the full amount of protection due to the settling. In the spring, the collars are removed along with the mounding materials.

This article was last updated on


Fall Care of Roses

Dr. Leonard Perry, Horticulture Professor
University of Vermont

Do you have some roses that you would like to have survive the upcoming winter, if at all possible, and particularly if new plantings? Or, are you one of those who had roses going into last winter, only to have many die while those of your neighbor lived? If either of these fits, you might consider mulching and mounding this fall.

A mulch will not only keep the soil warmer than unmulched soil, but also will prevent rapid fluctuations in soil temperatures which lead to soil heaving. Snow is the best mulch but, as we know, can not always be counted on. So other materials must be used.

A good mulch will settle lightly on the soil surface without excessive packing (this rules out most oak leaves), cause no harmful effects (such as from diseases or weed seeds), and be reasonably attractive and priced. Mulches derived from plants also add organic matter to the soil. Examples of good organic mulches are peat moss, weed-free straw (not hay, which is often weedy), cut evergreen branches, bark mulch, or wood chips.

Mulches should be piled at least a foot deep around plants, and not before mid-November, as roses need cool fall temperatures to develop some winter hardiness. Mulch much later and you may have to contend with snow first, and valuable ground heat will have been lost.

Mounding also may be used to protect roses during winter, simply mounding loose soil or compost a foot or more high around the base of the plant. Use loose sandy or loamy soil, as dense clay soil may cut off the oxygen supply to the roots, resulting in injured or dead plants. Mounding is preferable over mulches if you have mice that may live in organic material and chew on the rose stems over winter.

Climbing roses may be protected by removing the canes from their supports (keep this in mind in the spring when tying them up, for easy fall removal), then laying them on the ground. Use a wire hoop or similar device to hold them in place. Lay a piece of burlap over the canes to protect them during the spring uncovering operation, then mound soil or compost or organic matter over the canes. Uncover the canes when they begin to grow in spring, checking them in early April or shortly after the snow melts.

Mulching or mounding protects roses in a couple of ways. Roses vary greatly in their hardiness, depending on species and cultivars, with the more hardy not even needing protection. You may find a list of some of these on our website of previous Vermont hardiness trials (pss.uvm.edu/ppp/rosedata.htm).

Most roses also are grafted onto a hardier wild rose “understock.” Where they meet—the graft union– is the swollen area you can find at the base of many rose plants. It is often tender and susceptible to winter injury, so needs protection. Many recommend to even bury this graft union below the surface when planting, which also will help prevent undesirable sucker canes arising from the wild rose understock.

Before mulching or mounding roses in mid to late November, finish fall cleanup. Remove all plant debris and diseased parts. Pruning, although usually done in spring, may be done now to remove diseased or dead stems and to make the plant easier to mulch. Even with protection, canes may have some dieback and need further pruning in the spring.

(author’s note: Any videos or ads appearing here, added by WordPress, are not in any way related to nor have been approved by the author.)


Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Do you have some roses that you would like to have survive the upcoming winter, if at all possible, and particularly if new plantings? Or, are you one of those who had roses going into last winter, only to have many die while those of your neighbor lived? If either of these fits, you might consider mulching and mounding this fall.

A mulch will not only keep the soil warmer than unmulched soil, but also will prevent rapid fluctuations in soil temperatures which lead to soil heaving. Snow is the best mulch but, as we know, can not always be counted on. So other materials must be used.

A good mulch will settle lightly on the soil surface without excessive packing (this rules out most oak leaves), cause no harmful effects (such as from diseases or weed seeds), and be reasonably attractive and priced. Mulches derived from plants also add organic matter to the soil. Examples of good organic mulches are peat moss, weed-free straw (not hay, which is often weedy), cut evergreen branches, bark mulch, or wood chips.

Mulches should be piled at least a foot deep around plants, and not before mid-November, as roses need cool fall temperatures to develop some winter hardiness. Mulch much later and you may have to contend with snow first, and valuable ground heat will have been lost.

Mounding also may be used to protect roses during winter, simply mounding loose soil or compost a foot or more high around the base of the plant. Use loose sandy or loamy soil, as dense clay soil may cut off the oxygen supply to the roots, resulting in injured or dead plants. Mounding is preferable over mulches if you have mice that may live in organic material and chew on the rose stems over winter.

Climbing roses may be protected by removing the canes from their supports (keep this in mind in the spring when tying them up, for easy fall removal), then laying them on the ground. Use a wire hoop or similar device to hold them in place. Lay a piece of burlap over the canes to protect them during the spring uncovering operation, then mound soil or compost or organic matter over the canes. Uncover the canes when they begin to grow in spring, checking them in early April or shortly after the snow melts.

Mulching or mounding protects roses in a couple of ways. Roses vary greatly in their hardiness, depending on species and cultivars, with the more hardy not even needing protection. You may find a list of some of these on our website of previous Vermont hardiness trials (pss.uvm.edu/ppp/rosedata.htm), as well as in the publication from the Vermont Extension Master Gardener program (www.uvm.edu/mastergardener), Landscape Plants for Vermont.

Most roses also are grafted onto a hardier wild rose “understock.” Where they meet—the graft union– is the swollen area you can find at the base of many rose plants. It is often tender and susceptible to winter injury, so needs protection. Many recommend to even bury this graft union below the surface when planting, which also will help prevent undesirable sucker canes arising from the wild rose understock.

Before mulching or mounding roses in mid to late November, finish fall cleanup. Remove all plant debris and diseased parts. Pruning, although usually done in spring, may be done now to remove diseased or dead stems and to make the plant easier to mulch. Even with protection, canes may have some dieback and need further pruning in the spring.

Distribution of this release is made possible by University of Vermont Extension and New England Grows–a conference providing education for industry professionals and support for Extension’s outreach efforts in horticulture.


Growing Knock Out Roses in Containers

Yes, you can grow Knock Out roses in a pot. Pick a container with good drainage that is two sizes larger than the pot the rose comes in. This gives it room to grow. Water twice weekly during the growing season. Depending on where you live, you may need to move the potted rose indoors in the winter, because its root system will be more likely to freeze in a container. In places with very cold winters, bring the roses inside and store them in a cool, dark area such as your basement or garage.

Mature Petite Knock Out rose plants are 18 inches tall and work well in decorative containers. Flower size is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Photo by: Star® Roses and Plants

Mature Petite Knock Out rose plants are 18 inches tall and work well in decorative containers. Flower size is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.


Putting your roses to bed for winter doesn’t necessarily mean adding a mound of compost

I noticed my neighbors were mounding compost on their roses last week. Should I be covering my roses too?

— Jeff Anderson, Highland Park

You likely do not need to mound your roses for the winter, though it depends on what type of roses you are growing. I see many roses in home gardens that are mounded that do not need to be.

Landscape shrub roses are commonly found for sale at garden centers and planted in many home gardens. This group of roses provides a wide range of growth habits and flower colors while being easy to grow. They do not need to be mounded in late fall for winter protection. Examples of these types of roses are the flower carpet and knockout series of roses. Newly planted landscape roses will benefit from a light layer of mulch at the base as would any newly planted shrub in its year of growth.

Hybrid tea, floribunda, multiflora and miniature roses should get extra winter protection when grown in the Chicago area. I feel that mounding is the best method to use for this. It’s best to wait to mound these roses until there have been two to three nights of a hard freeze in the low 20s. The Garden got these lows in the middle of November this year, which is earlier than in most years, so the staff has covered all the roses that need to be covered here.

In the years that run warm late, the Garden staff will mound the roses shortly after Thanksgiving. The goal of winter protection is to keep the plants uniformly cold and frozen all winter and prevent damage from alternate freezing and thawing. It’s important to avoid covering the roses too early in the season.

First, the roses are cut back to approximately 2 feet in height and any rose leaves that have fallen on the ground are removed. Black spot, a prevalent fungal disease of roses will overwinter on rose foliage, so the best practice is to remove as much of the old foliage as possible before mounding. The Garden mounds the roses with 12 to 18 inches of well decomposed horse manure at the base of the roses after they are pruned back. The horse manure comes from a stable and consists primarily of sawdust.

Other materials more accessible to home gardeners would be pine bark mulch, shredded bark mulch and compost. Bagged topsoil from a garden center will also work well to cover roses. The material used to mound the roses needs to be well drained to avoid damaging the roses. For example, grass clippings will mat down and hold water against the rose stems likely resulting in the death of the rose.

Tim Johnson is director of horticulture for the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.


Pests and Diseases

Knock Out roses are famously resistant to bugs and rose diseases. But they are susceptible to rose rosette, a virus spread by eriophyid mites that blow in on the wind. The tiny mites eat a rose, give the plant the virus, and boom, your Knock Out is sick. Once infected, your formerly healthy rose will begin producing bunches of bright red new shoots that look, well, weird. Those shoots bloom, but the roses are distorted. As the rose rosette virus spreads through the plant, the plant slowly dies back until it completely dies.

Like all plant viruses, rose rosette is tough to control because it spreads internally to every part of the plant. Pruning off those bright red shoots as soon as they appear, being sure to cut through the healthy green wood below, may save the rose. But once the entire plant gets full-blown rose rosette, the plant is finished. Spraying won't work. Pull the plant out by the roots, bag it up, and throw it in the trash (not the composter!) so it won't infect surrounding plants.

They can also get Japanese beetles and rose slugs (also called sawfly) but the roses are so tough that even if bugs munch on their leaves, they'll survive.


Watch the video: GERANIUM CARE BASICS u0026 4 GERANIUM TYPES. Shirley Bovshow


Previous Article

15 best varieties of cabbage

Next Article

Sodium Bicarbonate In Gardens: Using Baking Soda On Plants