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Winter Damage

(September 2012)

Question Would I be safe in moving Knock Out Roses now? If I can, should I prune them before the move? I live in east central Arkansas, and I don’t want to lose my bushes.

AnswerEven though it is cooling off, plants are not dormant yet. The dormant season is the best time to move plants—between November and February. My preference with roses is to wait until February when you can prune and move at the same time. Pruning roses heavily in the fall can make the plants more susceptible to winter damage. If you are doing construction or have an immediate need to move your plants, it is doable, but prune as little as possible to make the move feasible and keep the plant healthy. Usually, the smaller the thorny bush, the easier it is to move, thus I prefer to wait until February with roses.

(November/December 2009)

Question I recently moved to northwest Arkansas from Minnesota. In Minnesota, we grew roses but had to lay them down during the winter for protection. I am currently growing roses in Arkansas but not sure what type of winter care they need. By now they would be underground in Minnesota, but here I still have green leaves and even a few flowers. When do I prune them and how far? Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

AnswerRoses are quite hardy in all parts of Arkansas, and it is not unusual for them to be semi-evergreen most winters. While they do shed a preponderance of their leaves, they retain some most years. It depends on what type of roses you are growing as to how much and when to prune. In general, most rose bushes should be pruned in late February. Hybrid teas require a more rigorous pruning—cutting them back 8 – 18 inches from the ground each year. Shrub roses—whether they are antiques or new “earth kind” roses should be pruned more selectively—like a shrub. Again, do this before growth begins in the spring—usually late February. You do need to prune all roses every year since they bloom on the new growth. If you are growing climbing roses, we usually allow them to have their first flush of flowers in the spring before blooming.

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