Winterizing roses is a very important maintenance practice to ensure vigorous growth from year to year. There are several things you can do to make sure your roses survive those tough winters long before the cold winds blow. First, choose the most winter hardy roses available to plant in your rose bed. Next, make sure your roses are healthy and not under stress by irrigating adequately in late autumn and discontinuing nitrogen application in late summer or early autumn.
Hybrid Teas, grandifloras and floribundas should be protected from winter damage after a killing frost but before the soil freezes. You can reduce breakage of tall canes from winter winds by cutting them back to 30 to 36 inches and tying the tips together. Remove dead and fallen leaves around the plants, then hill soil over the center of the plants in broad rounded mounds at least 12 inches high and 12 inches wide. Cover the soil mounds with a mulch of leaves, straw, boughs, or some similiar material.
For maximum winter protection, cover the rose bush with a protective cylinder. Use straw, leaves or similar material to insulate the bush inside the cone. Puncture several one inch holes around the top of the cone for air circulation.
To winterize climbers, remove them from their support, lay them on the ground and cover with 3 to 4 inches of soil. If this cannot be done, gather the tips of the stems together, tie them, and wrap in straw with a wrapping of burlap over that. The base of the climber should be covered with 10 inches of soil.
When severe winter weather conditions have subsided, remove most of the mulch and soil from around the bases of plants (you may leave a 2-inch layer of mulch in the bed).
Taking these precautions will go a long way in preserving your rose bushes this winter!