Various Questions A-Rose

Recently, I was asked a follow up question to my most excellent rose blog (I must say so myself), so in this installment of the Main Street Gardener’s hip, non-hipster-hyper-hyphenated-sobriquet I shall address two questions:

  1. What to do with those exposed, pruned rose canes against rose cane borer, and
  2. How do I go about winterizing my roses?

What do you use to cover exposed ends after pruning for bug control? 

An excellent question. What my dear reader is referencing is the draw of fresh cut rose stems to rose cane borer. This pest inserts eggs into the ends of freshly cut rose stems in spring. The larvae then hatch and eat their way down the pith of the stem, killing off a portion of the rose cane. They leave a tell tale small hole in the stem. A nice application of nail polish or glue just after cutting back the cane in spring ought to prevent the borer’s ovipositor from digging into the wound. The real question to ask is what color of polish, right? I say whatever goes best with your eyes.

How do I prepare my roses for winter?

Want the short answer? Nothing…if it is a typical shrub rose. Shrub roses are pretty hardy and are able to regenerate from the root if there was severe winter damage. Tea roses are a whole other deal. It is key to protect the graft union against the winter’s chill. The easiest thing to do for any rose is to pile up some nice fluffy wood chips around the shrub’s center, enough to sufficiently insulate the graft union with a couple of inches of material. Remember, the chips are going to settle over time, so add enough to compensate for sinkage. But, honestly, why mess with tea’s when shrub roses are sooooo much less work? Unless you really, really love roses, I would try my hand at less fussy plants. 

Well, enjoy the last rose blooms of the season while you can, and until next week, happy pruning!

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

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