Planting Roses – what do you add to improve soil?

Soil preparation is important if you want healthy robust rose plants that bloom prolifically.
There are two ways to go about improving your soil for planting roses and they depend on the amount of time you’ve got before you plant them.

If you are planting roses right away.

If you are planting your rose bush right away, the only thing you want to add to the soil at planting time is either a bag of rose planting compost or composted cow manure that you buy already bagged at garden centres. Composted/milled cow manure is not so much a fertiliser as an excellent soil conditioner – it contains enzymes that help plants absorb soil nutrients. Dig that in to about a spades depth. You never want to incorporate any other type of manures or fertilisers into the soil at planting time as these will burn the young feeding roots. Fertiliser burn is one of the main reasons newly planted roses die.

If you are planting roses later.

Now if you have plenty of time up your sleeve, say 6 – 8 weeks to allow the organic material to break down in the soil before planting roses, then you can go to town and add plenty of organic matter like compost and manure to enrich the soil, though it should be well rotted before adding. A good 10 cm (4 inch) layer should do the trick. Lightly dig that in to the depth of a spade/fork. I would steer clear of using mushroom compost as it can raise the pH level of your soil.

Organic matter is the life blood of you soil.

  • It enriches your soil
  • it improves soil texture and structure thereby improving the supply of oxygen and water to your rose plants, as well as improving drainage of excess water in clay soil
  • It supplies nutrients to the plant, which are released when the organic matter breaks down in the soil
  • It encourages beneficial soil micro-organisms

In heavy clay soil, organic matter enables the sticky “plastic” soil structure of clay to become more granular and crumbly which then allows better drainage of excess water. In sandy, open soils, incorporating organic matter helps it to retain water and nutrients for your rose plants.

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