Fatility list over zone 5 normal winter

Most of our postings have to do with our hybridizing successes, but possibly we could also benefit from discussing our hybridizing problems.

For years, I have struggled with a high mortality rate over the winter. For the last several years I have placed clear 32 ounce plastic cups upside down over the seedlings (with the bottom (now top) either partially or completely cut out). I surround the cup with a circle made from plastic “gutter guard” to help keep rabbits and deer from eating the rose down to the ground. See:


In spite of this the following link lists the seedlings that died over the past winter (the year planted out is given in brackets):


Notice there are seedlings from as far back as 2004 that died this winter.

A number seedling means that it did bloom.

Why did these seedlings die?

Of course, some could of been weak genetically.

Some had evidence of a “critter” chewing on the roots (small tunnel found going into the root zone).

Many (most) of my young seedlings were bitten off above the 32 ounce cup line. Some dead (and bitten off) seedlings were sitting on top of the soil. Perhaps the rabbits / deer had pulled the seedling out of the ground when biting it.

Some may not have established a deep enough root system and were “frost heaved” out of the ground. I applied Mycorrhiza fungi when I planted the seedlings. Did the fungi reduce the need for the seedling to establish deep root system?

Did I apply Harpin too late in the season (resulting in freeze kill of rapidly growing young seedlings)?

What should I do different?

I am thinking of adding sand to the 32 ounce cups in the late fall (to about half way up). This may help anchor the seedlings.

I could stack two circles of gutter guard and then placing the first height below ground to keep “critters” from getting at the roots. I anchor the circles with pre cut metal rods that I purchase at “big box” hardware stores. The rods are intended to be placed in fiberglass insulation to hold the pieces together in walls. The rods are long enough to hold 2 circles together (2 rods per stack).

Any other suggestions?

Link: docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfmggqh7_0c9k6zmgn

Hi Henry.

I put thin plastic mesh over the following every year. It helps the dogs see where not to run, keeps out the scrub jays/crows, the neighbor cats and my silkie chickens.

I use food clips to secure them onto bamboo stakes. My other protection is to use non-toxic (to pets) slug bait. One slug could easily kill an entire bed of seedlings in 1 night.

I have no idea for your ground vermins tho. However, they do avoid my property because I have “rock swales” that relieve flooding (I live almost @ sea level in a temperate rainforest, so…). What this is is channels about 2’ deep and 1.5’ wide filled with river rock. The ground vermin like the nice fluffy top soil, and this impedes their pathing hahaha. In other words, they will take the path of least resistance if possible.

Hi Henry,

I put a 2 ft high chicken wire fence around my seedlings last winter and I’m glad I did. I could see rabbit tracks all around the fence but no tracks inside the fence. A few of the seedlings had been chewed on last fall before I put the fence up but none were after I put it up.

Do you use any covering for your seedlings like leaves or straw? I use straw to cover mine because it stays put better than leaves, it is hollow so it insulates better and because it doesn’t mat down like leaves do. I have to cover mine because snow cover is so unpredictable here. Not only does it protect the plants from the winter weather, it helps stabilize the ground temp as well.

I wonder if putting down some moth balls would help with the burrowing critters? There is gopher bait that you can put down also. I had a gopher to deal with last fall that was digging up my yard and garden. It took me a while, but by using the bait I was able to get rid of it.

Hope this helps


It’s a hard judgement call here to leave small seedlings out over the winter or not. Sometimes big losses will occur or as with this past winter, the few I had left outdoors had come through very well, where as many in cold storage had been lost, thankfully nothing of great value, or at least I hope!


I have had the same experience as Dave. I kept about 6 or so seedlings in pots outdoors over the winter. They were up against the side of the deck and mounded with leaves. All came through it quite well. Now I have to admit that these were not keepers. The keepers were put into the beds.

I would add that 2 terrier poodle mixes aid the cat in discouraging varmints from venturing into the yard.

I moved into my present abode approx. 5-6 yrs. ago, a side of a mountain of fill dirt, so steep you need a walking stick to go up and down-after losing almost all the first roses planted there to gophers and ground squirrels, I now am forced to plant each and every one’s root system in a chicken wire cage, hog-ringed together on bottom and side, leaving about six inches sticking up above soil level. Coyotes killed three cats in a row, and I could not face anymore of that. This adds a little to the work of planting roses, but I needed large holes with the lack of quality soil anyway, and this has solved the critter problem totally-and another thing that works, is plant daffodils around all the roses-approximately 2’O.C. Daffodils are toxic to all rodents, and they are totally repulsed by them. I have about 5 roses that survived the first rodent attacts, and they have daffodils scattered strategically, and this has worked-it’s kind of like planting little bombs.Jackie

The first thing is to get rid of those critters. Gophers eat the plants but a much smaller critter is making its way across the country - the vole. If the critters are voles, they are small enough to go thhrough the mesh of Chicken wire so smaller mesh hardware cloth may work. Also, a layer of stone or mole and vole repellant aound the hole may work. Voles are the size of small mice, perhaps smaller than moles, even. In my garden, the voles went right around the daffodil bulbs and ate everything else in the garden - from the roots. I had some of my roses in pots in the ground; they went right over the top and into the pot, to devor the entire plant.

They began attacking my roses as the snow started to melt. They tunneled under the snow, eating off everything above the ground but could not pennetrate the frozen ground. As soon as the ground thawed, they most often just ate the roots but occasionally ate entire rose bushes - from the roots up. That was the winter I had put my mulch for my larger rose bushes on top of the snow. That kept everything cold enough because in those instances, the voles ate the bushes down to the snow line. By having the mulch on top of the snow, the snow line was much higher so those roses survived. (Unfortunatley they were once bloomers, but they did live to flower the next years.) Only one rose did they not eat or chew through all the canes because it was so thorny! (Zillions of short and very sharp thorns.)

We were not aware we had voles for the fisrt year because they only ate a couple of hosta. At the time, we did not know why those hosta completley dissappeared. The next 2 years the voles came back with a vengence. Coffee grounds, Cayenne Pepper, mole repellant, mole bait and rat poison reduced the numbers sufficiently so it is easier to just treat the desired plants with a Solar Mole Repellar, coffee grounds and mole repellant - this year. They tunnel under our lawn but the grass does not show the effect. I don’t know what else they are eating that is keeping them alive. (To top it off, we had a mole digging up our yard and gardens last year. Got rid of him with Wriggly’s chewing gum!)