The months of November and December can be an awkward time for many rosarians. While the growing season is coming to and end, the winter hibernation season has not yet begun. Some of us just don’t know what to do with ourselves or our rose bushes during this period of time.
Because your bushes are not yet in hibernation they still require some attention from you. Water continues to be a prime need, so make sure that the soil around their roots continues to remain moist. Give them a good soaking as need be, but, as always, don’t over-water.
Water is an important part of your roses’ winter survival requirements and properly hydrated roots will help them stay protected when the cold weather arrives.
Stop all pruning and deadheading activity so you do not encourage new growth. You should have stopped applying organics last month, and you don’t want to apply any more fertilizer now either. Your goal is to keep your roses healthy while, at the same time, encouraging them to begin the process of going into dormancy.
Continue spraying at least once each month to combat black spot. Spider mites are still active during late autumn so keep your eye out for them. Spritz your blooms and foliage with water whenever you see signs of infestation. Aphids are also active now, so have a bottle of soapy water ready to send them packing.
Pick off any diseased leaves and rake away any fallen leaves from your rose beds. This not only improves the appearance of your garden, it also removes any disease residue which may be still on the leaves.
This is also a good time to prepare your new rose holes and rose beds for next year’s growing season. They will have time to “mellow” over the winter season and will be ready to accept new bushes in spring.
Begin the process of piling mulch around your more delicate varieties such as “St. Patrick”, “Color Magic”, “Oklahoma” and “Signature”. Your hardier varieties can wait until next month.
You worked hard all season to keep your roses healthy and beautiful. If you did everything right, you were probably rewarded with waves and waves of beautiful blooms. Your hard work is almost over for the year, but don’t neglect your roses during these important final months.
Alice Riley is an avid gardener.