Care for roses in winter

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The do’s and don’ts of winter rose gardening

All through Spring and Summer, roses will be charming us with their beauty and fragrance. They'll be all the more intoxicating if we pamper them a little over the winter months.


  • Plant more roses. Winter is an ideal time to plant but if you miss out then, more roses arrive in garden centres early spring.
  • Mix compost and fertiliser into the soil at planting time. For each rose bush, dig a generous planting hole and mix through a bucketful of compost, plus slow- release
  • fertiliser or well-composted animal manure.
  • Trim any damaged roots, then soak the roots in a bucket of water while you prepare the ground. (For bare root roses only).
  • Trim new bush roses at planting time. These have often been trimmed mechanically. Cut each branch near the top, just above a bud.
  • Lay organic mulch under roses to retain moisture and prevent weed growth.
  • Prune roses in winter, or wait until August in cold climates. The exception is old-fashioned roses that flower only once a year in early summer - these roses should be pruned immediately after flowering (if at all) to give new flowering wood time to grow.
  • Use clean sharp secateurs.
  • Cut on an angle, about 5mm above a bud facing in a direction you want the bush to grow. Angle the cut away from the bud to prevent water running into it.
  • Wear gloves when pruning, preferably long ones to protect your arms.
  • Clean away all leaf debris from under the roses. This is a refuge for pests and diseases.
  • Spray after pruning with a copper spray mixed with spraying oil to minimise disease problems in summer.


  • Don’t plant roses in shade.
  • Don’t plant roses in highly sheltered places where warm humid air makes life too cosy for pests and diseases.
  • Don’t plant in soil where roses have grown previously. Find a new planting site or dig a large hole and backfill with fresh soil.
  • Don’t forget to remove the packaging before you plant your rose.
  • Don’t prune old-fashioned roses unless they are in the way, damaged or diseased. Ideally prune after flowering to avoid cutting off next years blooms.
  • Don’t be fussy when pruning Flower Carpet Roses. Just trim them with the hedge sheers.
  • Don’t put diseased material on the compost heap.
  • Don’t stress! You can’t kill a rose by pruning it.

How to prune a bush rose

  • Remove all dead or decaying wood.
  • Cut off any canes (branches) that are in the way, rubbing against each other or growing towards the centre of the bush.
  • Shorten the remaining canes, cutting back to an outward facing bud.



Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.