Q: My wife and I have the same discussion about our rose garden this time every year. I learned from my grandfather in east Tennessee that at the end of the season you cut the bushes down to twelve inches and cover with mulch for the winter. We uncover ours when the threat of frost is over and they have done very well each year. My wife thinks it is unnecessary to cut them back since it does not get as cold here as in Tennessee.
A: I think your wife is on the right track. Winter temperatures are warmer in Roswell than in the mountains of east Tennessee. Rose growers there must protect the graft union by piling mulch around it. If the top of a grafted rose freezes all you’ll have next year are sprouts and flowers from the rootstock, which are never very attractive. Where winter temperatures regularly fall below 10 degrees F. roses must be protected from the cold in some way. Most rose fanciers in our warmer region do not protect their roses for winter. I think you’d be safe to let your roses go through winter uncovered.