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Advice on "Spring Freeze Protection"

I grow Traviata, The McCartney Rose, and Frederick Mistral that Help Me Find says need "Spring Freeze Protection" which means they "need protection from late freezes or they will weaken or die when new growth freezes during the spring." The late frost this year did some damage to Traviata, but since she now has canes over 6 ft. long, I dodged the bullet (and then the *&^% grasshoppers ate the top buds. I HATE grasshoppers.) The other two are new this year. I'm also pushing the envelope as I'm in z6b and these beauties are only reliably hardy to z7b. They are all own root and the crown is buried at least 4 inches. So, what is your experience with "spring freeze protection" and tender roses? Is it only a matter of time until they die? What do I need to do to keep those late frosts from damaging them? Covering the rose with a sheet anchored with bricks is the only thing coming to mind.

Comments (5)

  • michaelg
    10 years ago

    Although HMF is a superb site, some of the information on pruning and hardiness is boilerplate derived from the rose's class rather than properties of the variety.

    In your area and mine, repeat-blooming roses (most of them) will commonly grow out in early March and then have the new growth frozen later in the spring. Usually this does not harm the mature canes, so you take off the damaged growth and carry on. Protecting new growth with sheets is a mess and will often cause mechanical damage to the new growth.

    I have grown some of the roses you mention for many years with no winter or spring protection.

    New roses that have recently been growing in greenhouse conditions should be protected from hard freezes in spring.

  • seil zone 6b MI
    10 years ago

    You're not really pushing the zones here. I know several people in zone 5 that grow all those roses. You've buried them deep so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

    As for the late freeze protection there isn't much I know of that you can do to stop it. There are those rose cones but I NEVER recommend them because in my opinion they have too many draw backs. First off you have to cut the rose way down in the fall to get the cones over the roses. Don't prune in the fall. You are cutting off all the stored energy in the canes that they will need to come back with in the spring. If they're very tall you can stake and tie them up to prevent them from whipping in the wind and being damaged. Secondly, unless you cut the tops off or punch holes in them, which sort of ruins their integrity and purpose, they can get too warm in the spring and cook your rose. Third, they're like petri dishes for fungal spores because they prevent air circulation and moisture will build up inside them. Warm and moist is fungal heaven!

    The only other thing I can think of would be to wrap them with burlap like you see shrubs wrapped sometimes for winter. This helps protect them from the drying winds of winter as well as perhaps evening the temps out to prevent early leaf bud that could be lost to a late frost.

  • nanadollZ7 SWIdaho
    10 years ago

    We had an extra nasty winter last year, and several bad spring freezes, after warm weather had occurred, in late April. My large, mature Frederic Mistral, had zero problems handling this, and he is grafted on Dr Huey. My large mature Abbay de Cluny also came through without a problem. It is grafted on Huey, too. Granted they are mature roses, but they've never shown any freeze damage when it's been extra cold. I wouldn't worry about your roses, either. It sounds as if they're well prepared for winter. On the other hand, Pink Traviata (not Traviata) was a very wimpish rose all along for me during its three year life. It didn't grow and barely bloomed. It didn't take the harsh winter well, either, and I was tired of putting up with it, so, I'm afraid it met its fate with the shovel, something that happens fairly rarely around here. Diane

  • grandmothers_rose z6b
    Original Author
    10 years ago

    Rose cones?! Sound like an elaborate form of grower torture. I'm glad to know these roses grow well despite frost in zones close to mine. I don't prune until the roses break dormancy, not in the least reason because it *always* catches me by surprise and I scramble to get my pruning done. I meander around saying "crap, how did that happen so fast?!" I try to pick roses that survive without perfect care and these three are my experiments in pushing that envelope. Mr. Shovel takes care of poor performers for me, too!
    Thanks for the advice on Pink Traviata. I love Traviata and was seriously considering the pink variety. I'll wait and see if someone around here has grown her.

  • michaelg
    10 years ago

    'Traviata' is easy for me and needs no protection. Chances are the pink one is the same except for color, but I haven't grown it. Sometimes a particular plant will wimp out on a competent grower for no apparent reason.