Rose cones are a handy method of winter protection for climbing roses and other less hardy varieties in cold climates. They help to shelter the canes from harsh winter temperatures and to reduce the risk of fungal diseases in spring when the plant comes out of dormancy. They also help to prevent damage from ice and snow. Many gardeners use them in addition to other methods of winter protection to give the best chance for healthy roses come spring.
To use a rose cone, loosely tie the canes together and then place the cone over them. Fill it with a mixture of leaves, straw or hay, making sure the bottom of the cone is in contact with the mound of soil you made in step 2. Poke a few holes around the top of the cone using a screwdriver to allow air to flow in through the winter, preventing stagnant air from encouraging fungal disease. Then, wrap the entire cone in twine to make sure it stays in place and not blown off by heavy winds.
This is a great alternative to the Minnesota tip method that involves digging a trench, carefully tipping the rose on its side and then burying it for winter. This method has a high percent of success, but requires more space and soil to accomplish.
Other methods for winterizing roses include laying the canes on the ground and covering them with 6 to 12 inches of mulch after the soil freezes lightly. A three foot layer of dry leaves over a rose bed encircled with hardware cloth is another good option. Limit fall pruning to what is needed for the winter protection method you choose and remove rose cones, mulch and a mound of soil in early to mid spring to encourage strong, healthy new growth.