Q: We have a Confederate rose that dies back in the winter but I am not sure how far back I should cut the dead canes. Should I cut them back to the ground level or not?
A: I admired a neighborhood Confederate rose, Hibiscus mutabilis, for several weeks in late October and early November. The owners wait each year until a hard freeze (28 degrees) kills the foliage and then cut the stems down to four inches tall. They do not cover the stems with insulating pine straw but some gardeners testify that this helps protect the plant’s crown during severe winters. Since the forecast is for a mild winter, follow the technique above this time but apply a mound of straw if temperatures threaten to drop below 15 degrees in future winters..
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