Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Roses that Don’t Need Winter Protection

novembre 20Winter has come early – very early! – to many regions of North America, so early that many gardeners haven’t yet finished installing the winter protection they give to their roses. But did you really need to protect them? Because more and more roses sold these days are “hardy roses”. And they don’t need protection of any kind.

I’m always surprised by the number of people who ask me about how to protect their hardy roses for the winter. On the one hand, they know they bought hardy roses; on the other, they still want to know how to protect them. Yet the name says it all: a hardy rose, by definition, is “winter hardy”: it needs no winter care. No mounding, no rose cone, no pruning. You simply let it be. In spring, if there is any damage, simply remove the dead parts, that’s all. It couldn’t be more simple!

Instead of putting all that effort into protecting hardy roses from the cold, you should now be enjoying their winter beauty, with their stunning hips (fruits) showing up spectacularly against a background of snow and attracting, on top of that, fruit-eating birds. Sadly, many gardeners miss out on this six month plus display, because they were told they had to deadhead their roses. Deadhead a hardy rose? And miss out on months and months of fall and winter color? Are you kidding? What kind of sadist would tell a gardener to do that? Oh right, the “kindly neighbor who knowns nothing about gardening, but is always quick to share gardening advice”. Here’s my tip: don’t listen to them and instead enjoy your rose’s winter display.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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