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Winter Protection for roses in Zone 6b?

prairiemoon2 z6b MA
13 days ago
last modified: 13 days ago

Last year I almost lost Beverly after the winter and every other rose in the garden had die back almost to the ground. I was just noticing the rose bushes have finally put on some size, but that's pretty late in the season, most of the summer they were very small.

It occurs to me that I never do anything to provide winter protection and I'm wondering if there is anything I can do, to increase the viable size of the roses in the spring? With that much die back, you end up with small rose bushes every year, like starting over. I was just hoping that with some heavy mulching I might get better results.

Comments (29)

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    13 days ago

    Not in the northeast. Heavy mulching just means they die back from canker more reliably than they die back from cold.

    If you want bigger roses, you buy hardier roses which often get shockingly big because of the lack of dieback.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    Interesting, that was my second thought. So, I've actually been doing the right thing to just let them alone going into winter. So, I need a couple of hardier roses that get larger. That's a possibility that I could do that. Do you have any suggestions for something that would be larger but not shockingly large? [g] Thanks.

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  • mmmm12COzone5
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    I have been frustrated by the same problem.

    This year I took photos of all my roses prior to cutting off the dead cane. Look at the first few posts on this thread to see the winners and losers.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6123034/the-truth-about-my-zone-5-roses-in-spring#n=74

    Winnipeg Parks (center hot pink rose) is my top one for growth and constant flowering. Planted as a band on 7/19. I do no believe this is her mature size. I expect her to get bigger. I just don't know how much bigger.

    No winter die back. Very little to trim off in spring.


    Iceberg is another with little to no winter die back. Planted as a young plant on 6/17. This is Iceberg today (9/11/21). She is more petite than my other roses so may have reached close to mature size.


    Amiga Mia is another with little to no winter die back. But I put her in as a more mature plant in 8/18. Early Sept. picture.


    Pretty Lady Rose (far left) also has very little die back. She was put in 5/17 a a band and thus a little bigger than the others but not a monster. Pic. around Aug. 31st.


    My other 2 Pretty Lady Roses on Aug. 31st. They have bigger spring flushes and normally better flushes. We are still getting close to 100F temp. It was 99 yesterday.


    Easy on the Eyes impressed me with it's first year growth and no die back. She was planted 5/20.

    Here she was in spring, June 16th. This is as a 1 yr old.


    Then her second flush 8/3.


    She has nothing right now because I cut the couple of flowers she just bloomed to put in the house. I'm hoping for a fall flush.

    Golden Wings is another that doesn't die back for me. We took it out because it was going to be too large for it's space. Also here the blooms, which were constant, gotten eaten by the Japanese Beetles same day. So if I didn't cut them off in the morning they were gone by the afternoon.

    Here she was Oct. 1, 2020. She was planted as a band 8/18. Very healthy, constantly blooming plant. This is the last picture I have of her. The flowers were very pretty.


    https://www.highcountryroses.com/shop/modern-roses/medium-large-shrub-roses/golden-wings/

    Robusta also doesn't die back for us but is a monster at about 7'H by 10' wide. Here she is today. She was planted as a band on 5/17.


    I look forward to others chiming in. I am looking to take out a few of ours that die back to the ground every year (Sally Holmes and Dainty Bess) and replace with more hardy but yet modest sized roses.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked mmmm12COzone5
  • Diane Brakefield
    13 days ago

    This area, SW Idaho, was zone 6a for many years, and I gardened during that time, never experiencing winter damage to my unprotected roses. Around 2012, we were changed to zone 7 by the Dept of Agriculture, who determines the cold hardiness zone by taking the average coldest temp in your area over a 20 year period to determine your cold hardiness zone, which is 6b for your garden area. To get to the point: if you gardened in the West, I'd say you don't need to winter protect your roses, but you are in Massachusetts, so that can make a difference. We don't have snow protection here--very little snow. Do you have abundant snow? It should help protect your roses. In your zone, I am surprised that you have so much winter damage. Is freeze-thaw in spring a problem for your garden? A lot of that can cause damage, too. Mad gallica is correct about heavy mulching in wetter, snowier areas. I guess that brings you back to growing hardier roses as your solution, unless their is some other problem you haven't mentioned. Diane

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked Diane Brakefield
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    Our weather has become more irratic with climate change. Some winters we've had very little snow cover, which is unusual for us. Last winter we had a good amount of consistent snow cover, so I'm not sure what the issue was. But in general, I'd say I can't count on snow cover consistently and we can have very cold temps without snow cover a couple of times a winter. Then there are winters we get an abundance of snow.

    In July and August we are normally short on rain but this year we've had a ton. I think I used the sprinkler 3 times all summer on the lawn.

    Actually prior years, the roses have done fairly well with living canes over a foot or more high. Last year had some issue that was just not obvious to me I guess.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Mm12 - So you live in Colorado, zone 5. Thanks for so much information and examples. I enjoyed the linked thread too. In your first photo of Winnipeg Parks, do you normally wait for the rose to fill in before taking off dead material? That’s a lot of very pretty new foliage.

    I tried Iceberg which for me had blackspot worse than any other rose I tried. Yours is SO pretty!

    And the light pink with the darker pink with the white is such a pretty combination.

    Pretty lady is a really nice pink and I like the form of the flowers.

    I like the roses I have, which were all chosen with heathy foliage with an ability to grow without spraying and to that end, they all accomplish that, even this year with so much rain and humidity I had no blackspot at all. But I think I’d like to go shopping for another. I’ve never tried own root and I’d like to end up with a larger one.

  • mmmm12COzone5
    13 days ago

    prairiemoon2,

    Yes I am in the Denver area. We get alot of freeze/thaws. Our snow melts often during the winter and things warm up (especially in Jan.) but then we get snowed on again. April is a very snowy month for us. Also some very extreme cold temps. -10. -20. My roses are in an exposed area that gets the northern winds.


    When we first put the roses in we would trim off the dead cane too early. March or April because it would warm up and be like summer with everything growing. Then we would get hit with a late snow storm. This year we waited until mother's day. The Denver rose society recommends waiting until mother's day but we have been fooled by the weather in the past thinking it was OK. From now on we are waiting.


    I am thinking about pulling out some of our die to the ground roses and try and find more hardy ones. Seeing all that dead cane every spring is depressing.


    What size rose are you looking to get and do you have a color preference?

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked mmmm12COzone5
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    I will try to take photos of my roses today and post them, if it's not raining. right now I have Julia Child which is about 3ft x 3ft after starting from the ground this spring. It has gotten as large as 5x4ft some seasons, which was a good size. What I am happy about is that it is completely healthy and blooming again. It is all new growth and it looks better than it has in the past 4 years, so there's that. And I have 2 new roses, that I added 2 years ago - Beverly and Savannah. Again, they are healthier than any rose grower could expect. Foliage has looked wonderful all season. So I wouldn't have any desire to replace these roses, I think I would just like to add one more that is larger and is very productive with large fragrant flowers. I don't want much. [g]

    I'm thinking I might want a 6ft x 6-8ft plant. I have a small bed so I can't add more than one more. Not sure what color I would want. I have 2 pinks and 1 apricot and a yellow and that's about it in the front and I have a few in the back that get less sun and are not as productive and those are deep pink and almost white. I have thought of getting a red or a purple, a violet or a lavender color, I had a white, Pope John Paul, but I shovel pruned it this year, because it just was not healthy enough for me and the flowers degraded before the bloom was even fully open. Color is really my last consideration because I like a lot of colors, I just can't fit an orange in my beds and at this point, even a red might not work as well with the colors I have going. I've had a red Mandevilla in a pot this season and I have felt it is jarring with everything else in my bed.

    But it just occurs to me, that if I can't find something larger and hardier, I could always multiply the roses I have and put two or three of them together to get a larger display. But it will be fun to spend the winter looking for a new one too. I've never really considered hardiness as a priority with so many other aspects that I've focused on. fragrance, Health, vigorous, rebloom. I know I found it was not easy to find roses that fit all those variables. I just think it's time I tried an own root rose and concentrate on hardiness before the other variables will probably open up other choices than the last time I looked.

    I think our climates are different, but still a lot more in common than there used to be. We've had winters where the snow melts and it warms up and then we get cold and snow again. We've had cold, snowy Aprils. You probably get colder temps than we do. Your roses look great!

  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    12 days ago

    What do you think of Princess Charlene de Monaco? She’s big, beautiful, fragrant and healthy.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked oursteelers 8B PNW
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Princess Charlene de Monaco

    Looks like a great rose! Do you have it Oursteelers? I see from the HelpMeFind site that they only give it a 3 for hardiness. And is it a David Austin rose? I used to grow those exclusively but they were not disease resistant for me. Finally chose to stop growing them. Too bad, it's a beauty!

  • oursteelers 8B PNW
    12 days ago

    I do grow it and it is so easy; I do not spray and it only gets occasional organic fertilizer. It isn’t an Austin so maybe it wiuld be healthy in your garden

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked oursteelers 8B PNW
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Oh, it's not an Austin...well, I'll have to put that on the list then! Thank you!

  • mmmm12COzone5
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    See if you can find a Winnipeg Parks to see in person. The color on most of the photos on helpmefind looks accurate. Not my photo, which is not the right color. My cell phone camera cannot capture it correctly.

    I saw a photo of a mature bush at the Denver Roses show some years ago and it was the size you describe. It also has great growth, constant flowering and is very winter hardy. I think it matches your requirements pretty well. It also kept on blooming right through the summer heat.

    Here it is in a dish with some of my other roses. The flowers on Winnipeg Parks are very good size. Easy on the Eyes on top. Amiga Mia on the right. Dainty Bess on the bottom and Winnipeg Parks on the left.


  • strawchicago z5
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Prairiemoon: How much rain and snow do you get through winter? What type of soil do you have? Loamy, sandy, fluffy clay or dense & heavy clay? The amount of precipitation and type of soil plus drainage determine winter-survival.

    Cynthia (Nipptress), zone 5 with over 900 roses mentioned that those with a good snow cover in winter have better winter survival. I bought plants from nurseries which stated to UP the zone by 1 if there's a good snow cover in winter PLUS excellent drainage below.

    Yesterday I spent 1 hour digging a hole down to 2.5 feet and found a bunch of rocks at bottom. I poured 3 gallons of water down, let it soak overnight, and after 10 hrs. the water hasn't drain yet !! That spot gave a very hardy rose only 6" of green cane, so I had to dig it up to fix drainage.

    With my 145 own-root roses in zone 5 winter, I find that those which I dug deep for drainage, and removed at least 100 lbs. of rocks & icky sub-clay below .. these have the most green canes, but the roses which I didn't dig deep for drainage died to the crown or barely survive my zone 5 winter.

    The winter and early spring which I didn't get much snow or rain, I have a lesser rate of winter-survival due to roots drying out, esp. on a raised bed. For that reason, I bury roses at least 6" deep if they are on a raised bed. Rose varieties DO NOT matter much in winter survival since those that thrive in my wet clay die easily in Cynthia's drier climate & drier soil.

    Good drainage is vital for high-rain & snow climate. One winter I piled up snow on top of poor drainage clay. In spring that turned my rock-hard clay into fluff .. snow & rain are both acidic at pH 4.5 (mid-west and east coast), versus pH 5.6 on the west coast.

    If snow in poor-drainage spot can corrode rock-hard clay into fluff, it will destroy any roots. Vinegar could not break down those rock-hard clumps of clay, but piled up snow did. See below pH of rain across US:



    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked strawchicago z5
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    12 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    Strawchicago - I haven’t had trouble losing roses in the past. My usual problem has been blackspot on roses that develop that. The seven roses I have now have not had blackspot at all. The only rose I came close to losing was Beverly this spring. It didn’t show up and looked dead and I cut it to the ground and left it and about a month later it pushed out new growth from the soil. Around the stump and on the stump. I often have at least a foot of green cane in spring on most roses, but not this spring. Most of them needed pruning to the ground. I have no idea what it was about last winter that was worse than usual.

    I have clay soil that I’d say is on the loamy side. Not too difficult to dig, not sticky, good drainage. I just looked it up and the record shows for my area that we’ve had 41 inches of rain so far this year, about 11 inches above normal, but I know I have gotten more than my area has. I bet I’ve had 50+ inches so far this year. Last year we were 4 inches below normal. 23 inches from Sept to April 2021. Looks like the low of last winter was about 5F so it wasn’t all that cold either.

    I never have standing water on my property even after hurricanes and excessive rain. I credit that to all the trees around my property - Maples that soak up the water. If I dig a hole and fill it with water, it’s normally empty in an hour and never still full over night.

    I hadn’t realized how acidic our snow/rain has become and that the West Coast is better in that regard.

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    12 days ago

    When we started growing rose here, winter lows below -20F were common. So to get the qualities we wanted in roses, we grew a lot of once bloomers. We still have almost all of those, and I still think they are the largest group of roses that are hardy and disease resistant in this climate.

    Own-root roses are not hardier than budded. With marginal roses, losing the extra vigor from an understock can cost you two zones. Since most of the roses I grow, we acquired by rooting cuttings, I have a lot of experience with various own-root roses, and won't touch them except for a roses that is insanely vigorous own-root, or tip hardy. If the rose can't build on last year's growth, own-roots never amount to anything.

    Many years ago, when there was a lot more overlap between what I grew and what other people grew, I noticed that the northeast got a lot more winterkill than other places with the same zone ratings. In general, you picked up about half a zone moving from eastern New York to Michigan, and then another half a zone moving from Michigan to Colorado. So I did quite well getting hardiness information from Minnesota, and disease resistance information from Washington D. C. Some of that was increased disease pressure east of the Appalachians, but most of it is still mysterious to me.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    11 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Mm12 - I see Amiga Mia is a Bucks rose. I have Prairie Sunrise that is a Bucks rose and I love it. Winnipeg Parks is a very attractive shrub and a pretty saturated pink. I add that to the list, thank you!

    MGallica - Thanks for sharing your experiences. I know you’ve always recommended once bloomers and in the past, I know I tried one or two. I just didn’t have much luck with them. I tried putting them in part shade which they didn’t appreciate. If I had a larger property I know I would find a place for them, I love the look of them. But being on 1/4 acre lot, with a lot of trees rimming my back yard, a small 15x20ft bed in my front yard, is the only full sun on the property and I felt I just had to go with reblooming roses.

    I’ve trialed a lot of roses over the years for disease resistance and gradually ended up with the 7 I have now that I couldn’t be more happy to have roses with clean foliage. Of course, 'a lot of roses' is relative and barely a drop in the bucket compared to the number of roses so many gardeners on this forum grow. [g] It was time consuming researching which roses might give me what I was looking for, but enjoyable time spent, except for having to resist so many beautiful roses. [g] So, I am sure I will enjoy trying to find one more.

    I discovered the list of roses they grow at the Peggy Rockerfeller Rose garden in the NY Botanical garden, since they shifted over to all non spray roses. That was a good jumping off place. But you do end up having to depend on catalog descriptions by Rose growers. I’ve had very good luck with Pickering Nursery that is no longer in business. I still have 4 roses I bought from them. And I have 3 I bought from Palatine. Their descriptions of very healthy disease resistant have been on the money for me.

    I guess I’ll have to reconsider whether own root will give me the same thing that it does for gardeners in warmer zones.

    It’s raining today, so no photos.

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
    10 days ago

    I loved own root roses in Alaska and here too.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
  • strawchicago z5
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    High Country Roses has this tip for planting hole "First, dig a hole where you want to put your new rose bed. Then, fill it with water and see how long it takes to drain. If it takes more than an hour you’ll want to improve your drainage by digging deeper planting holes and adding some coarse sand to allow for faster drainage. If your soil drains too quickly you can add organic materials to the planting hole to help retain moisture."

    From Straw: High Country Roses is in Broomfield, CO with annual rainfall of 16.1 inch, compared to my over 40" inch. this year, with 3 to 6 inch. per day (week-long) rain in July. So I have 2.5 times more rain than High Country Roses, so instead of 1 hour before the hole drains, it should be less than 1/2 hour. Plus my rain is more acidic at pH 4.5, vs. pH 5.6 on the West coast.

    I dig down to root level at 2 feet deep before dumping a 3-gallon bucket of water to test for drainage. The only roses that are 100% free of blackspots are those which I spent at least 1 hour digging, and water can can drain in less than 1/2 hr. at 2 feet deep level. My dense & heavy clay near 15+ trees have lots of rocks below, so it's dry on top, but soaking wet at root level (below 1 foot deep) when there's tons of rain.

    In my last house of acidic clay, the soil was black & easy to dig and soil was very deep with zero icky-sub-clay layer. I didn't see any rocks while digging in that last garden, but I had the worst winter survival and worst blackspot. In my current house of alkaline clay, the high pH clay serves as a buffer to neutralize acidic rain, but I have to dig deep due to a layer of dolomitic rocks below that impedes drainage, causing acidic rain water to pool up at 2 feet deep. Less blackspots and better winter survival in alkaline clay.

    Jess in South Africa with acidic red clay had the worst rust & blackspots, and her clay was all the way deep & easy to dig & with no sub-layer of rocks. I would hit rocks if I dig down to 2 feet, but Jess is all red clay, no rocks. Jess used to post with me in Organic Rose Forum. My garden is no spray since 1998.

  • FrozeBudd_z3/4
    9 days ago

    Strawchicago, you sound like me, no effort spared with it comes to preparing the soil! I always very deeply dig and amend the soil for pretty well everything other than where my soil is super good to begin with. My gardens are a mix of excellent easy to dig soil and those with a nasty difficult to penetrate hardpan, sometimes it's challenging to even find a place to wedge the shovel in between the rocks and prying up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of rock and very hard clay be dumped elsewhere. Those very bad areas sure do make me appreciate the good!

  • strawchicago z5
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    I broke 2 shovels in my rock-hard clay. One was $40 shovel, the second one was $15. So I buy cheap shovel since I'll break them prying out rocks from the planting hole. Brendan in NY zone 5b dug out lots of rocks from his heavy clay, and he got the best winter-survival in his 1st year of growing own-roots last year.

    I would rather spend 2 hours digging per hole for fast drainage, than lose expensive own-roots. Yesterday I threw away 3 wheel-barrows of rocks & hard-clay near the fence. Walmart is selling garden soil cheap at 1/2 price, only $2 per 1.5 cubit feet.

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Sheila, So you are in two locations? I’d assume a colder zone in Alaska? I have never tried an ‘own root rose’. Maybe that is something I should do for comparison sake.

    StrawChicago - You must be in great shape with all the digging you do! [g] I bet you miss digging in your old garden.

    FB - You get great results from your efforts, too.

  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
    8 days ago

    I moved here from Alaska, Prairie.

    prairiemoon2 z6b MA thanked Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
  • mmmm12COzone5
    8 days ago

    For reference, all the roses I posted (and grow) are own root.

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  • strawchicago z5
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    I have 145 varieties of roses as own-roots. I also have 3 grafted-on-Dr.Huey (Double-Delight, Belinda's Dream, and Lavender Crush). Dr.-Huey-rootstock is a long stick and it's a pain to dig deep in rock hard clay.

    Double-Delight and Lavender Crush have the most blackspots in my garden, despite my spending 2 hours digging a huge hole (3' x 3' deep) for Lavender Crush since it's a climber.

    Dr-Huey was bred in dry & alkaline CA and prefers high-potassium & moist rather than soaking wet clay. My healthy Belinda's Dream (grafted-on-Dr.Huey) is NOT in heavy clay, it's in amended soil with very fast drainage.

    I will be 60 next week and working in the garden is more strenuous than any exercise equipment & easily lose 1 lb. after 4 hours of garden work. I don't water by the hose, I lift heavy buckets of water from my 6 rain-barrels and carry them to each rose. My tap water is pH 9.

  • mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
    8 days ago

    Nah, Dr. Huey is a Philly boy. I used to know almost exactly where.

  • strawchicago z5
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Few years ago HMF stated that Dr.Huey was bred in CA, now HMF changed to bred by Captain George C., so I looked up the info:

    Thomas, Captain George C. (helpmefind.com)

    "All the Bloomfield roses were produced by Capt. George C. Thomas, Jr., at his home of that name in Chestnut Hill, Pa., until he removed to Beverly Hills, Calif., where he continued his hybridization until his death in 1932.

    The name for this rose was announced at the meeting of the American Rose Society held in the Bloomfield Gardens on 4 June 1919. Dr. Robert Huey died on 12 March 1928. 'Dr. Huey' does well in alkaline soil."

    The above info. is from HMF under Dr.Huey. Bloomfield Gardens is in CA.

  • FrozeBudd_z3/4
    8 days ago

    I've never been the "Oh, that's good enough!" type ... but, rather dig an exhausting hundred dollar hole when need be! I've actually had folks mock my extensive soil prep work, but the plantings being proof of reaping the rewards of doing so!