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Soil for Roses

The soil is considered the area about 18 inches around and 18 inches deep around the plant in question. This is the dirt you need to work with and be aware of.

Just like the climate, the composition of your garden earth while be key in understanding what types of plans will grow there. Clay, sandy, organic and rocky are all types that you might encounter in different areas of the country. Clay tends to hold water much like a clay pot and thus may give you issues with watering. Sandy is the opposite, with too much drainage. Rocky or desert types are tough to work with, as there usually isn't enough organic "meat" in the soil for the plant roots to hold onto. Pure organic is usually the best shape but even then may need to be adjusted for the PH. See below on the adjustments for that. An ideal mixture would be about half organic with the rest a mix of clay, sand, and some stones.

PH Levels

Soil PH chart
Chart showing the PH scale

You hear the term "PH" being bandied around frequently, when it comes to a discussion of acid levels in your soil. But how many people actually know what PH stands for? For those that took Chemistry at school, they will know the answer is "Potential Hydrogen".

Once of the key indicators that can show if an area is good for rose gardening is the PH. With all of these types, its good if you can get an idea of the PH from a local grower or, even better, get a sample from your own garden.This is a chemical factor that shows how acidic your dirt is. Its a scale from 1-14, with lower numbers being more acidic Perfectly balanced is 7.0; water is usually right around 7.0 depending on any impurities or chemicals in it. Most roses need a pH level of 6.5 to grow well. Adding organic matter like mulch will generally lower the PH. If you are in one of the rare areas where you have alkaline levels, you can add limestone or calcium carbonate to help out. In most cases, though, you will want to pile on the organic stuff (mulch, compost, manure, etc...) It's hard to have too much.


In some cases you may need to use a fertilizer. Sometimes that is because certain elements are missing in the soil, but more frequently it is as a boost for hungry plants during flowering. We have a page to help you choose the right fertilizer for roses.

Pages Related to Caring For Roses

Browse our pages on rose care. From basic planting techniques to advanced budding and propogating, we've got something for everyone.

Care Of Roses
Start at the beginning, and get an overview of what's involved with growing roses.
Planting Roses
Doing a poor job with your plant can leave it with weak roots. Make sure to get it done right.
Pruning Roses
Sometimes your blooms need a trim so they can have room to sprout and re-grow.
If you want continuous blooms through summer, then you need to deadhead your roses.
Cut Roses
A vase full of vibrant bloomers looks great in the dining room.  Learn how to do it yourself.
A little more advanced, but see how you can easily increase your stock of roses.
Make sure that your roses can survive the winter and come back even stronger in the spring.
Rose Diseases
Some of the common rose diseases like blackspot, and how to get them under control.
Rose Pests
Common bugs and insects to look out for on your roses, and what to do about them.
Rose Leaves
How to use the state of the leaves to check plant health on a rose bush.
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