Roses in winter
Despite the graceful and delicate appearance of their flowers, roses are vigorous shrubs that tolerate changing climates well. These are semi-evergreen plants, that is, they behave as evergreen when the climate allows them to grow better, while they lose most of the foliage when the climate is less favorable.
This means that we can find ourselves with rose shrubs with few leaves even in August, if it is very hot and it does not rain (or we do not water the garden), as this can happen in winter, if for many days the temperature goes below. zero.
In any case, these shrubs do not fear heat and cold, i.e. they are not irreparably damaged, so as soon as the climate returns to milder the plant starts to fully vegetate, and to produce new leaves and new buds.
This behavior of most hybrid roses means that the flowering period is very prolonged, and depends mainly on the climate; obviously if we live in Bolzano it is likely that the roses bloom from April to September, without interruption, and then they lose part of the foliage and enter a period of vegetative rest. If, on the other hand, we live in Sicily, it is likely that our roses rest in August, but that they may even give us some flowers in November.
To get beautiful flowers already at the beginning of spring it would be better to have our roses already planted in autumn; in this way they will have the opportunity to develop a good root system before winter and a very cold climate, which allows them to produce luxuriant vegetation as early as the end of winter. Remember that most modern hybrid roses bloom on new branches, those produced in the current season; therefore to always obtain new flowers we will have to constantly stimulate our plant to produce new shoots, new branches and therefore new buds.
The cool climate and short days tend to slow down or stop the vegetation of the shrubs during the autumn and winter months; in most of the regions of northern Italy, during a normal winter season, roses hardly produce new branches and new flowers; in most of the regions of southern Italy in winter the climate is mild, but the days are short, so even if our roses bloom, they hardly produce a large number of flowers.
So we can sacrifice any winter flowers by pruning our low roses already in autumn, if we live in the center-south, or towards the end of winter if we live in the northern regions, with very cold winter weather.
This practice involves the shortening of all the most vigorous branches, leaving only 2-3 buds, and the removal of the smallest and weakest branches.
In this way, when the plant begins to vegetate completely again, with the arrival of the months with a mild climate and with the lengthening of the days, we will favor the development of a large number of new shoots, equivalent to a large number of future buds.
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Most hybrid roses do not fear the cold, and can withstand temperatures close to -10 / -15 ° C even for a fairly long period of time. Obviously we will have to plant our rose plant in a sunny place, so that at least the warm winter sun warms them a little.
If we live in a place where winter is decidedly very harsh, with persistent snowfall for a few months, we will have to plant our roses in the sun and in a sheltered place, for example in a flowerbed close to the house, exposed to the south or south-east, so that it enjoys a slightly less cold climate. Surely we will also have to prepare, at the beginning of autumn, to mulch the soil around the plant with dry leaves and straw, in order to prevent the frost from penetrating excessively into the soil, until it reaches the root system.
If we want to be even more peaceful, after having mulched the soil well, we cover the plants with some agro-fabric, to be secured to the ground with stones or with metal clips, so that the weather does not move it: in this way we will create around plants a microclimate that will protect them from the most intense frost.
Let's avoid covering them too early, otherwise we will find plants with sprouts in the middle of winter.
Before it's too late
Even if we do not decide to prune our roses in the fall, it is good to do some maintenance before the cold arrives, in order to carry on for the coming spring.
First of all we apply an antifungal treatment, especially on plants that during the summer suffered from scab or that have manifested other fungal diseases.
Most of the fungal parasites present on roses generally remain dormant in the ground until the following spring, when they can return undisturbed to the tender newly developed buds; to prevent this from happening, we spray the plants with an antifungal, but also the leaves around them; if possible, remove all the leaves affected by fungal disease and burn them, so that they are not a vehicle for further infections.
When we prune our roses, we always remember to use well-sharpened and disinfected pruning tools, disinfecting at each change of plant, in order to avoid being a vehicle of infection ourselves between one plant and another.
The botanical roses
Most of the botanical roses originating in Europe are deciduous plants, which in winter go into complete vegetative rest; some botanical species of Asian origin tend to keep their foliage even in winter.
Most of the botanical roses also tend to bloom on the branches of the previous year; if we want to get lots of buds in spring, we avoid pruning our botanical roses together with modern hybrids, otherwise we will remove most of the flowers. Pruning of these roses occurs after spring flowering.
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