2013-11-28 / From The Garden

Roses in November

By Cynthia Gibson


Use your pruning shears to remove the dead canes, cutting them as close to the base as possible. If you find a cane that looks like it’s still partially alive, make a cut 1/4 inch above one of the bud eyes. Use your pruning shears to remove the dead canes, cutting them as close to the base as possible. If you find a cane that looks like it’s still partially alive, make a cut 1/4 inch above one of the bud eyes. It is an amazing sight to see roses growing on trellises throughout Aquidneck Island in November. Roses growing this time of year should be clipped and brought indoors, as their fragrance is still intoxicating and lingering. One whiff of a rose in November is like a breath of fresh air.

The time is also right to put your rosebushes or rose gardens to bed for the winter. Use large bags of pine bark mulch and spread it around the feet of your rosebushes and mound it into a cone shape surrounding the stems. Do not worry about using too much mulch, as it acts as insulation. It keeps the root system cool on warm days and warm during the winter and severe cold spells. Loosely mound the mulch. There is no reason to pat it down; ideally there will be some air between the bits of bark.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Prune all dead wood from your roses and remove the remaining flowers, rose hips, and dead leaves. If some leaves are still green, it is still fine to prune at this time. Cut the rosebushes to one-half their size for a medium bush; prune off one-third for a large-sized bush. Do not prune climbers at this point, but make sure they are well supported with twine on their arbor or fence to prevent damage from winter winds and heavy snow. Rose trellis wire (covered in soft green rubber) is the best for tying and supporting long trailing branches.

I have never found it necessary to bury or wrap rosebushes in burlap. Our temperatures are never quite cold enough to demand that degree of protection. We may have temperatures dipping below freezing, but they usually quickly rebound.

Never feed roses in November, but wait until spring to start the fertilizing process. Doing it now will encourage growth above the ground, which will take away from the nourishment in the root system that your bushes need throughout the winter.

As winter begins, it is also time to spray your fruit trees, especially peach trees. Use a fixed copper spray, one of three sprays to apply during the winter to eliminate peach leaf curl and scab on apple trees.

The latest rains and wind have stripped our trees of their remaining fall color. I hope you have an excellent rake for wrapping up this traditional fall chore.

I remember bonfires as a special treat while growing up, with the leaves first raked into huge heaps and the children gleefully jumping in. It was totally harmless fall fun. At dusk, the heap of leaves was set ablaze and cups of hot cider and doughnuts were passed to friends and children encircling the large fire. It was a fitting autumn ritual around Thanksgiving. It was the final fall ceremony before we all started thinking about snowflakes, snowmen, and the next holiday.

The end-of-November chores in the garden include: . Final raking of leaves and branch cleanup . Pull mulch away from fruit trees . Prune raspberry and blackberry plants . Pull the last of the weeds . Mulch and prune roses . Clean bird feeders and buy seed . Remove water from small ponds and cover for the winter . Stake and tie climbing vines . Mulch clematis for the winter and secure them to a trellis to protect from wind and snow damage . Empty birdbaths and other small water features for winter and turn them upside down . Put out a heated bird bath for winter; the birds will love you for it. . Saw dead branches off of trees. Now that the leaves have died back and perennial plants are asleep for the winter, it is safe to walk around your trees if they are in flower beds. Prune now, as the winter wind can take a toll on your trees.

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