How to Care for Roses in Winter and Spring

1 PLAH - Feb 2023 - Blog Cover How to Care for Roses in Winter and Spring from Payless Hardware Rockery and Nursery

Do you want to enjoy the full beauty of your rose bushes and trees this summer? This winter and spring, follow our simple tips (prune, wrap, and mound), and it will prove well worth the effort once you see your gorgeous perennial beauties blooming right outside through your home windows. 

Here are a few quick and simple tips for caring for roses in the winter and spring so they are ready to bloom in health later in the year: 

Rose Care Helpful Tip 1 Prune Remove diseased or dead foliage to prevent canes from rubbing at Payless Hardware Rockery and Nursery

1. PRUNE: Remove diseased or dead foliage to prevent canes from rubbing

Pruning can benefit a rose plant’s beauty and survival rate through the chilly winter and gradually warmer early spring months. 


  • Try not to prune down at the plant’s base in the area closest to the ground. Leave this area alone.
  • Don’t over-prune. Removing too many parts from these plants during the winter can stunt or even kill them.


  • Cut dead twigs or foliage that look diseased or already dead, so they don’t rub or bump up against the rest of the plant and harm them (via the University of Illinois Extension). This problem is especially true on windy days 
  • Focus on removing a few inches (less than a foot) from the branch tips to shorten the bush so it can be more easily mulched.
  • Do not remove twigs carrying rosehips, but make proper correct cuts.
Rose Care Helpful Tip 2 Wrap Tie and collar canes to prevent wind damage at Payless Hardware Rockery and Nursery

2. WRAP: Tie and collar canes to prevent wind damage

Bundling the “canes” or branches of your rose bush together is also called wrapping, tying, or “collaring” the plant. According to Purdue University, this protective measure helps them stand firm and prevent excessive movements when strong winds can loosen or damage the branches/cane or base of your plant.

If you leave the plant unprotected and they experience strong winds, the rose canes can rub against each other, opening up wounds and leaving them vulnerable to disease come springtime.


  • Gently wrap twine around the plant to bundle and tie together its branches.
  • Create a collar to create a cold barrier for the plant. Some gardeners like to use mesh collars, tarp materials, straw burlap, newspapers, etc.
  • Fill the collars with dry soil, mulch, or shredded leaves. 
Payless Tip: This useful collaring technique can also be used for effectively protecting various other types of plants and flower varieties!
Rose Care Helpful Tip 3 Mound pile dry soil or mulch to protect from changing temperatures at Payless Hardware Rockery and Nursery

3. MOUND: Pile dry soil/mulch to protect from changing temperatures

Most rose varieties are resilient and can withstand even the coldest of winters. However, it is still safer to take some preventative action to provide them with extra protection. 

To help your plants thrive (and not just survive), prevent your roses from becoming damaged during this season.

Interestingly, it’s not so much the direct cold that negatively affects roses; damage comes from the fluctuating temperatures that the plant experiences, like freezing, thawing, and then being frozen again. This harmful process can burst plant cells/tissues, brings on diseases when it warms, or even cause fatal trauma to your roses. 


  • Gather about 6-9 inches (for shorter plants) or 10-12 inches (for taller plants) of dry soil or dry mulch around the base of your rose plant (via the University of New Hampshire Extension).
  • Avoid using damp soil, wet leaves, or damp mulch. 

Although right now, many of us are bundled together (much like our roses) and trying to stay warm indoors, before you know it, you will be taking out our open-toed sandals and sun hats as we spend more time outdoors in your yard. So, we encourage you to do a little preparation now to enjoy the vibrant beauty of your blooming roses in just a few months.

Payless Pick: Check out our organic EB Stone Rose Grow Planting Mix that is great for transplanting bare root and container roses into the ground, to be used as a supplement to add to your soil mix, or to use more as a mulch substitute around your rose plants. 

Last but not least, we will leave you with some dreamy pictures of tags from our unique rose varieties, along with a few funny rose puns as captions for you to use in your next card:

Visit our local, family-owned Payless Nursery located in San Jose to pick any gardening supplies, new plants, and trees or even to scoop up some more helpful Payless tips from our expert staff.