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Minnesota tip method of protecting garden roses

The "Minnesota Tip" is one of several proven methods for protecting roses against early freezes in the fall, the bitter cold of winter and the dangers of thaw-freeze cycles in the spring.

Protecting roses for the winter really begins with the work done during the summer. Bringing the roses into the fall season in the best of health is the first step in winter protection. Soon after the middle of October, preparation can begin for tipping the roses. Follow these steps when using the "Minnesota Tip" method for protecting roses during winter and early spring.

diagram of a tied up bush

Figure A

diagram showing parts of the tied up plant

Figure B

diagram of the plant underneath the ground

Figure C

  1. Water generously one or two days prior to tipping to keep the soil in a moist, workable condition.
  2. The day before tipping, give the plants a good dormant spray such as a liquid lime-sulphur material.
  3. Tie the rosebush canes together to allow easier handling.
  4. Avoid pruning the bushes. Open wounds on the canes may not heal properly, as cold weather can inhibit the formation of a protective callus.
  5. Dig a trench, starting away from and working toward the base of the bush. The trench should be as long as the bush is high. The width and depth should easily accommodate the bush or bushes. Pull the soil away from the shank (i.e., the root stock area between the bud union and the main branching of the root system) to facilitate tipping the rose. A spading fork is helpful for loosening the soil around the roots.
  6. When the trench is ready and the roots of the bush are loosened, use a spading fork to push the bush into the trench (Figures A and B). Use the spading fork to hold the bush down while covering it with 2 or 3 inches of soil. If the soil removed in digging the trenches is not enough, add soil from the annual garden or elsewhere (Figure C).
  7. Cover the soil with about 18" of loose leaves or other covering such as marsh hay.

Next spring, start uncovering the rose bushes about April 1st. Begin by removing the leaves and then gradually remove the soil as it progressively thaws. On or about April 15th, raise the plants to an upright position and syringe the canes often with water to prevent them from drying out. Once the plants have been lifted, spray with a good all-purpose fungicide and insecticide and make sure they are adequately watered.

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