Roses Winter damage – prune or replace?


A few of my larger and older climbing roses suffered winterkill down to their base after this past winter.  New leaves are sprouting from the base.  Will these bear flowers true to the type of rose I planted, e.g. High Hopes?  If not, is it worth keeping these bushes or would I do better to replace them?
Thank you for your help!


It was a difficult winter in Toronto and Southern Ontario.  The prolonged cold and early freeze up prevented many of our trees, shrubs, and perennials taking up the necessary water they needed to survive dormancy.  The ice and whipping winds didn’t help either!

As for your roses, future preventative measures would include cutting them back to about a metre in the fall.  This way the whipping winds are less likely to damage and break the canes.  Deep watering until freeze up will keep them hydrated through the winter.  Moundling around the graft and mulching them as the ground freezes will give them some extra insulation.

I’m glad to hear that they are not dead and are showing good growth.  As they are cultivars, they are likely grafted to a tougher root stock, so your concern is merited.  The easiest thing to do is to crouch down and look at the graft or crown.  Pull away soil and mulch to get a good look as to where the new growth is coming from.  If the new growth is coming from below the crown, then it’s likely from the hardier unknown root stock, so you may want to replace that plant.  If the new shoots are coming from the top of the crown, then it should be true to form and you will likely get the flowers you expect.

A good dressing of compost or sheep manure will help with nutrients and moisture retention.  Also, fertilizing with a good, soluble rose fertilizer later in the spring will boost growth.  It would be a pity to have to remove the roses you love, so a little TLC will go along way.