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Tea Roses in Minnesota

A few winters ago, I met Ginny Carlson of Burnsville. Of course, the plant sale came up and she had questions about the roses we’d be offering. Ginny was disappointed to hear that we hadn’t ordered tea roses. Our converstaion led to what she does for winter protection of her tea roses.

Ginny and her husband, Gerald, who claim to be neither horticulturists nor master gardeners, have been having quite good luck wintering their hybrid tea roses. They quit using the labor-intensive “Minnesota tip,” mostly because of rodent damage, in favor of the much easier “bagged leaves” method.

They write, “After the first couple of frosts, it’s time to put your roses to bed. Before the ground freezes, mound up soil around each bush to about ten inches high. After the ground has frozen, place bags of oak leaves around the plants. Then cover the entire garden, bags and all, with loose oak leaves. Pack lots of leaves around the plants, in between the bagged leaves. The bags make spring clean up easy.

“You can cut the plants back in the fall, if you want, but we like to wait until late spring. This allows you to see just what has died back and not prune off any more than needed. The goal in covering your roses is not to keep them warm or anything like that. You are attempting to stop a freeze/thaw cycle from repeating over the winter.”

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