People often ask me when do I cut back my hardy roses in the fall, do I protect them in the winter and what is the best way they can protect their own roses. I have simple answers.
First, I remind people that I only grow hardy roses, that are trouble free. Of course, sometimes I only find out that I have bought non-hardy roses when they die, but that’s the way it goes. I do not cut back my roses in the fall. I do deadhead the roses to some extent, but often not as much as they could be deadheaded, because I run out of time or energy. I want to make the point that deadheading is not cutting back. Deadheading is cutting off the dead blossom or spray of hips back to the first 5 leaf stem. I always have some winterkill so it seems counter productive to cut back any more than I have to because I will just just have to cut back still more in the spring to remove the winterkilled branches.
The only protection I provide my roses is a shovelful of soil or compost (when I have it) over the roots of the rose. I especially do this with roses that were planted that first spring. Or the second. I have noticed that Carol, the head gardener of the Bridge of Flowers protects the roots of newly planted shrubs, and the more tender plants this way every fall. Fortunately, she has a good supply of compost to use.
The last question is impossible to answer because I don’t know what kind of roses my questioner might have, and they can rarely identify them for me. My non-gardening son, who bought a house with a row of roses, told his non-gardening daughter ,who bought a house with a couple of rose bushes by the front steps, that she should just but them back in the spring as he did to good effect. I will take her aside and explain that he has a very different type of rose, and that her roses, which I think are Knock-outs, should only be cut back in the spring to remove winterkill, and trimmed to keep them from resting on the railing on the front steps. No one wants to grab a handful of thorns when tripping on a step.
What hardy roses to I grow? I grow rugosas like Mount Blanc and Pink Grootendorst. I grow Griffith Buck roses like Applejack and Quietness. I grow Earth-Kind roses like Carefree Beauty and The Fairy. You can see most of my roses on my Virtual Rose Viewing