Do You Really Have to Protect Roses for the Winter?
Yes… if you planted bush roses (hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, etc.) in a cold climate. These roses are only fully hardy to zone 7 or zone 8 and for most Northern gardeners, will need to be cut back severely and covered with a thick layer of soil or mulch (this is called “mounding”). In zones 5 and below, even that will likely not been enough: you’ll need to further cover them with landscape cloth or a rose cone. Even so, there may well be losses with these very fragile plants.
The laidback cold climate gardener, however, simply doesn’t plant tender roses, so banishes hybrid teas and their ilk from his gardening palette. Instead, he grows only hardy roses, ones adapted to his zone or to even colder zones. Being perfectly hardy, many to zone 3 or even below, they need no winter protection. Just let them take care of themselves. In the spring, simply remove any dead or damaged branches, that’s all.
Today, hardy roses are widely available in most nurseries and in fact are the most popular roses sold in zones 2 to 6. You’ll find a whole range of sizes, colors and perfumes and – good news! – most are highly disease resistant as well. Look especially for own-root hardy roses: since they are not grafted: if anything happens to them, they’ll simply sprout from the base to bloom again. Sometimes life is soooo simple!