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Customer AR has the following question about wintering over her rose bushes:
"A couple of years ago we purchased a climbing yellow rose from you folks when they were on sale in the fall. We wondered how it would do over the first winter and I am happy to say that it did just fine. We hilled up about six inches or so with loam after the ground froze. Did not cut it back last year since it had just started to grow. Now, it is almost up to the second story window and we don't know what to do this winter. Should we prune it way back or what would you recommend? Hope that we can keep it over well for another winter. I think it liked our winter last year with all of the snow for mulch."
Our answer: Your winterization should go much the same. Hilling up that six inches of material after the ground froze is just the trick!
Most pruning should be done in late winter or early Spring when you go to clear the cover that you hilled up. You may need to do much of that pruning late this year just before you hill up the material if you need clearance for that cover. Otherwise iIf you can get the covering of material on top of the base of the rose without much pruning then wait on the pruning until late winter or early Spring. In all cases any growth pruned should be growth that is dead or dying. It is fine and even preferable to prune any dead or dying growth at any time.
And yes the more snow we get in the early part of the winter the better for our roses!
Customer ND has a question about overwintering different shrubs and perennials:
"I have planted bee balm, lavendar, butterfly bushes, forsythias, a small lilac tree, and some small schrubs. Also a red twig dogwood tree. What do I have to do to these small plants before winter.
I am so glad that you are available to answer our questions. I am a newcomer to gardening."
Our answer: "The most important thing you can do for these plants is to water them well once or twice a week between now and when the ground freezes up. The plants will use this moisture that builds in the soil to get off to a better start this coming year. Also, combine those helpful waterings with a nice feeding with a quality organic fertilizer like Plant Tone by Espoma or Plant Booster Plus by Organica.
The bee balm, lavender, and butterfly bushes should all have a good quantity (several inches at least) of mulch or cover around the base of each plant once the ground freezes. The purpose is to keep the ground frozen and the roots in place. The bee balm is not a woody plant so that could get back back to a few inches and then completely covered.
I would not prune any of the other plants this year unless there is some dead or dying growth that needs to get cut away."