How to care for your roses in winter: planting and pruning tips

Roses are a stunning and hardy addition to your garden that can be planted as a colourful hedge, complementary pop of colour, or even on a feature such as an archway. So, if you want to make sure your roses look their best this year, winter is actually the best time to plant and maintain your roses to ensure a blossoming, gorgeous garden come spring. Planting, pruning, mulching, and spraying roses in New Zealand is all best done in winter, so check out these tips from our Mowing and Gardening experts on how you can care for your roses in winter.

Planting roses in winter

If you plant your rose bushes right, it will be a lot easier to keep them healthy, strong, and full of flowers. Roses like a lot of sunlight so choose a sunny spot; somewhere that gets at about 5 hours a day is best. Also try to pick a spot sheltered from strong winds.

Next, prepare your soil. Dig it through using a garden fork and remove any weeds. Add plenty of peat, compost, or any well-rotted organic material to give the soil a nutrient boost.

Now dig a hole big enough to hold the roots and create a small mound of soil (around 5cm high) in the centre of the hole. Carefully squeeze out your rose bush from its pot and place on top of the mound. Check that where the roots and stem meet is level with the top of the hole. If it isn’t you may need to adjust the size of your mound. Then spread out the roots around the mound.

Fill in the hole, firm the soil and water well.

Finally, add a layer of mulch around the rose bush to help prevent weeds from growing and to help retain water. Just make sure that mulch doesn’t touch the stem of the bush, as if it does it can cause it to rot.


What is the proper way to prune roses?

Roses should be pruned when they’re not in flower. This is generally around June or July, although in cooler regions, it may be more like August. Don’t be concerned if you still have a few roses flowering when it is time to prune. A few flowers are an acceptable sacrifice to ensure a good performance next year.

Choose a sunny dry day to prune, as wet weather can encourage the spread of disease. Always use sharp secateurs to get a clean cut. A clean cut prevents die back and bacterial disease from affecting roses.

TOP TIP: Dip secateurs in bleach or methylated spirits to reduce the chances of spreading disease.

To prune, first remove any dead or diseased growth and then clear the centre of the plant to allow air movement. Cut branches back by about half and make all cuts on an angle which slopes away from the bud.

HANDY HINT: Keep your garden bag handy to collect all the cuttings and debris that falls on the ground. You should dispose of this to stop the spread of disease rather than putting it into your compost bin (if you have one).

Watering and feeding roses in winter

Roses do not need watering or feeding in winter as they are dormant and not growing. But they do require plenty of water in summer. Consider installing an irrigation system to make sure your roses get the regular, deep watering they need.

When buds start to burst in early spring start feeding them approximately once a month with a balanced fertiliser specially blended for roses.

Roses do well with cool, moist, rich soils, and do not like competing with weeds for food and water, so continue to add a layer of mulch around the stem.


When to spray roses

To keep roses pest and disease-free many gardeners regularly spray them. Winter is a good time for spraying to catch any over-wintering insect eggs or fungal spores. A copper-based spray is a good general clean up spray to apply. Talk to a gardening expert for specific advice on different sprays available or alternative options for dealing with pests and disease.

HANDY HINT: There are lots of rose varieties available. Consider colour, planting location, and climate and scent when choosing your favourite.


If you’re looking at planting roses in winter, or want someone else to look after them for you, give one of our friendly team members a call on 0800 454 654 or enquire at Jim’s Mowing for advice on caring for your garden and lawn this winter.