What to do when it won't freeze?

thedogsLL(6B)January 14, 2014

Hi, All. This winter has been crazy, weather-wise, and I'm worried about my roses. Usually by now, the ground is frozen, and I've added shredded leaves and bark mulch to the rose bed, in some combination. But every time I get ready to do it, we have several days running with temps in the forties and too damp to cover them or even build up over the roots. Should I be worried? Or just let nature do her thing?

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seil zone 6b MI

If it hasn't been cold enough to freeze the ground than they're probably fine anyway and don't need it. Do you plant the grafts deep? That's also a protection on it's own.

The bigger problem could be repeated freeze and thaw cycles. If it's too warm for too long they'll try and come out of dormancy and grow. That uses up stored energy in the canes. If that happens too many times it may exhaust their supply and they may not be able to come back when spring finally arrives.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:33PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

This is why I try to preach the EVILS of winter protection. You just can't do it when a reasonably normal winter consists of a week of lows in the minus teens, followed by a week where the weekly low is 35, followed by another week of below zero. It just doesn't work. If a rose can't thrive with nothing more than a buried graft, it has no business being here.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:50PM
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Thanks for the responses!

So the own root Crown Princess Margareta should be fine. It went in in May 2013, and it was buried about 4" deep. The grafted lavender (with no name) was planted according to the directions on the bag, some years ago, before I even knew there was anything to know about roses (he). But it has had a year or two of mulching and composting. Does that build up soil? I don't think so. I guess we'll see in the spring what it does. There are two KO roses, a double red and a double pink, and I don't like them anyhow. Didn't realize what I was buying, and am looking for someone to give them to when I dig them up. :)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:55AM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

what to do when it won't freeze????

why, pretend you are in California, and enjoy it.


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 11:14AM
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We usually have issues with an abundance of freeze/thaw cycles.

Wrapping with burlap helps keep them dormant. It also prevents canes from snapping off at the bud union--moving the stress point higher up.

It helps to leave the canes long--the highest buds will die off and inhibit the lower ones from emerging from dormacy.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 2:23PM
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Thanks, all.

Kathy, I'd love to be back in So Cal. We lived there for some time in the late 80s, jst outside of Long Beach. I do miss the weather, lol! And we actually had some roses. I just looked at them....

Zack, I know. I keep trying to add where I am to my page, and it doesn't stay. I forget to add it on each post. I'm in MA, just north of Boston, and like I said, this year is just plain weird. My most important rose (I know most have many, many more than just one) has been in for less than a year. There aren't any long canes. So Saturday, before it gets really cold again, I'm looking for burlap. Do I make, like, a cone and leave the top open? Or just wrap it up? Loosely, I presume? As much as I hate that word, lol

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:55PM
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You actually want a tight wrap, at least at the top--this moves the stress point on the canes from the bud union much higher, so the canes don't snap off.

At the bottom of the wrap, I just make sure that the canes are covered. Sometimes I'll even remove non-productive canes entirely to simplify the job--but I have a lot a roses and little time. I make a distinction between pruning and removing canes entirely--lopping them off as close to the bud union as possible.

If a cane is removed entirely, it will take a while for the plant to regenerate a new one--typically after the top growth has leafed out. Thus, there is no danger in lopping off canes entirely in winter or very early Spring, if there are a few canes remaining on the plant.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:03AM
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Thanks for the details, that'll help. It's mostly the lavender I'm trying to save. I hope with some TLC, it'll come back to the point where it can at least be identified. That way I'll at least know what to look for if it has to be replaced. Here's a photo of the bloom, although I have nothing else to show.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:26PM
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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

The purpose of mulch is to keep the plants frozen so when the warm days come it really won't affect them. Burying the graft 4-6" deep should be done in any cold area. As a Master Rosarian I've told people for years to plant the bud union at ground level. Now that wisdom has changed to bury the bud union below ground. Then it you don't cover it ,big deal! All of my ht's and Floribundas I've planted the last 3 years are 4-6"below. That way they will become own root roses!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 7:58PM
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ThedogsLL, wow, that's a beautiful lav. If you find out the name, please post it.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Jim, I'll be crowing to the four points, LOL! I have some hope for it. Last season, I got five blooms, after two seasons of dwindling and only 2-3 flowers, and it had two canes instead of one shrinking stick. Cross your fingers!

Dan, the problem here is that the frozen days have been short term, and sporadic. The ground hasn't frozed, so I haven't added winter mulch. At this point, I'm going to rely on the own root CPM being buried correctly, and cross my fingers on the lavender. I couldn't find any burlap locally.

And spend the next month or two trying to figure out if I want to keep the KOs and move them, or just get rid of them.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:28PM
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