GREATER MILWAUKEE ROSE SOCIETY
Growing Great Roses
Protection
Winter protection begins with proper selection of varieties, proper planting and healthy bushes.

Roses are woody perennials that need to go dormant in our climate.  Don't protect too early.  For the majority of our area, we recommend that all winter protection is completed just prior to Thanksgiving.  You must let the plant "harden off" naturally.  Early frosts will not harm the bushes.  They signal the plant to begin going dormant.  This is the time for you to prepare your method of winter protection.

Rose cones are not recommended.

Recommendations: 
  • A soil mound to a depth of 10-12 inches, or a few shovelfuls for a miniature.
  • Soil or compost in collars made from newspaper, fiberglass mesh, reflective duct insulation or tar paper.
  • For semi-hardy varieties, a layer of oak leaves. Other types of leaves tend to mat during the winter causing problems for the rose.

The most dangerous time for roses is the early spring with our cold winds that will desiccate a rose cane within hours. An anti-desiccant such as Wilt-Pruf or Cloud Cover may be used in fall and again in spring.  Protection lasts approximately 4-6 weeks, diminishing more rapidly as the weeks pass.  Don't rush your uncovering. Over the course of a few weeks slowly wash away the soil as the daytime temperatures rise.

The best winter protection is to pick varieties that are hardy to this area (See Recommended Rose Listing). If you like those tender roses that need protection, you may want to plan on special protection with burying or consider them garden annuals!

Disclaimer:  While the advice and information contained within this website is believed to be true and accurate, GMRS does not accept any legal responsibility for any errors or omissions that may have been made.  GMRS makes no warranty, expressed or implied with respect to the material contained herein.
This page was most recently updated on 12/31/2015