Fall is a great time to take stock of the gardening year behind us. What worked and what didn’t. What should be changed or should remain the same.  Here in zone 8a, my roses begin to wind down for the year in late October and we occasionally see blooms as late as Thanksgiving.  As they begin the process of going dormant, there are a few things to consider:

Chris VanCleave

Redneck Rosarian

 America’s Favorite Rose Gardener Nicknamed “The Redneck Rosarian”,  Chris VanCleave is passionate about gardening and growing roses. A grower of roses “most of his life”, he is an active member of the Birmingham chapter of the American Rose Society, serving two terms as President.

In 2007, he created the Rose Chat Podcast which has reached over a half a million listeners with news and information on growing on growing the world’s most beloved flower, the rose. He was a contributor to the 2015 Southern Living Gardening Book, has appeared on P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home television show and was featured in the June 2015 issue of Southern Living Magazine. Locally, Chris serves as Chairman of the Helena Alabama Beautification Board where he has spearheaded efforts to create a sustainable landscape in one of the top one hundred places to live in the United States. His writing is seen at About.com, in various magazines and on his popular website; RedneckRosarian.com,  where he chronicles his gardening adventures and explores an intrinsic mix of life, faith and gardening.

5 Steps to Get Your Roses Ready for Fall

1. Halt fertilizers about 6 weeks prior to 1st predicted frost in your area to protect any tender new growth from being damaged by frost and freeze.

2. Winter winds are often harsh and can damage not only the canes of roses, but will “rock” the rose bush at its roots and can cause damage. Trim roses that have grown tall by 1/3 to prevent winter wind damage.

Fungal disease remains in your garden beds until you remove it.  Clear garden beds of debris – especially any diseased leaves that may have fallen from your roses. This practice will help curb problems in spring. fungal disease will over winter in your garden and will be there to greet you is you don’t remove it…. Once the temps fall below freezing on a regular basis, you can apply a dormant spray. I use lime sulfur.  It will kill fungus on contact. I spray it on the ground and on every inch of the shrub. I have found that this one thing can help you start off the year with a disease free rose bed.  Also, never place diseased rose leaves in your compost bin. They should be removed all together from your gardens space.

3. Allow your roses to form hips. Hips provide color in the garden, are a good source of vitamin C for birds and like many plants that produce fruit, the formation of rose hips send is a signal to the rose to go dormant for the season.

4. By fall, the mulch you applied in spring needs to be reapplied. I add about an additional one inch layer to my beds. In colder climates, your roses may need additional protection. Mounding up mulch around the base of the rose will help. Throughout the year, mulch keeps weeds down and holds moisture in at the base of the plant where it’s needed.

5. Fall is an excellent time to remove any roses that are not healthy. Roses are a resilient lot. If a particular shrub requires a lot of care, remove it. You and your garden will be happier.

Check out all the new roses coming out for the next year. In zone 8a, we plant roses in fall. Excellent bargains can be found in many home and garden centers.

The Rose Chat Podcast is a great way to learn about new roses for the year. Listen on the go via iTunes or Stitcher apps FREE! Listen online at RoseChatPodcast.com

These few simple steps will help you create and maintain a beautiful garden space for roses.

Chris VanCleave

Redneck Rosarian