How should I protect my Knock Out Roses for our cold winter? Should I prune them back, cover them with soil or just leave them alone?
The Knock Out rose was bred to be hardy and disease resistant. In fact it was developed and tested in Wisconsin by Bill Radler the former director of Boerner Botanical Gardens. I have one of the original plants and never provide winter protection. I have to admit it took a beating this past winter but new growth appeared in June and it grew and flourished all season. Some gardeners prefer to provide a bit of added insulation. In either case let the plants stand for winter to increase winter hardiness. If you feel the need to mulch, wait until after the ground freezes. You can cover the base of the plant with evergreen boughs, straw, marsh hay, or compost. In spring remove any winter injury. Each spring remove any dead tips or stems. Then thin out the plants as needed by removing a couple of the older canes back to the ground or main stem. As you can see less effort will give you better results with the Knock Out rose.