Frost-Proof Your Roses in 5 Easy Steps

Frost-Proof Your Roses in 5 Easy Steps

How to Protect Roses from Frost Damage While budded (grafted) roses and modern hybrids are great choices for their beauty and vigor, they often require more frost protection than their hardier shrub cousins. In zones 7 and warmer, most roses survive winter just fine, but in zones 1 through 6, you should bundle them up for winter.

Roses in containers are some of the easiest to protect. Just bring them in! A garage with a window is the ideal place to keep them cool without freezing them. Bringing them into the warmth of your home could cause problems because they will come out of dormancy too early. If you don’t have a garage with a window, consider a greenhouse or coldframe to keep your roses cozy.

Outdoor roses can get through the winter with these 5 steps:

  1. Encourage Your Roses to Go Into Dormancy. Around August you should stop fertilizing and pruning your roses (including deadheading). This keeps any new, tender growth from occurring and allows the last flowers to develop rose hips. Once the rose has created these seed pods, it starts to get the signal that it is done for the season and ready to rest. Do keep watering throughout this period until the ground begins to freeze.
  2. Clean Up the Leaves. Any diseased leaves at the base of the rose can overwinter and re-infect the plant in spring. Getting all the fallen leaves cleaned up will help your rose get off to a clean start next spring. For good measure, apply a dormant spray like lime sulfur and/or spray oil.
  3. After the first frost, Mound Soil at the Rose’s Base. Since the goal is to prevent rootballs from heaving out of the ground in freeze/thaw cycles, it doesn’t need to be applied until freezing has begun. Be sure not to dig this soil from too near the rose’s crown, or you will damage the roots.
  4. After the first hard freeze, add mulch. Pile up 6 to 12 inches of straw, mulch, leaves, or compost around the base of the plant. A good way to keep this insulating material in place is with a circle of fence or chicken wire. If you are a vegetable gardener, your tomato cages can be a quick and cheap solution. Bonus: this mulch will break down over the season and add some nutrients to the soil.
    • For climbing Roses, first carefully remove the canes from their structure, gather them, and lash them together. Then dig a shallow trench in front of the rose. Carefully tip the plant over into the trench, and then mound insulation on top of them. This method was advocated by the University of Minnesota and has become known as “The Minnesota Tip Method”.
  5. Start uncovering your roses as the ground thaws. Gradually remove a bit of mulch at a time as the weather warms up.
For more information on rose care, visit or contact our public relations department at 1-864-941-4521.

Jackson & Perkins, founded in 1872, quickly became the world's foremost hybridizer of garden roses, a position it maintains today, with more award-winning rose introductions than any other company. Now, they also offer a wonderful selection of annuals, perennials, and gardening supplies and gifts.

Happy gardening!