SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
strawchicago

Your plans for roses in ground and pots: soil prep & fertilizing?

strawchicago z5
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

Above is Sonia Rykiel, early spring 2013. The decline in health came from my testing monopotassium phosphate, low-salt NPK 0-52-34, extremely high in SOLUBLE phosphorus. That stuff is great for loamy potting soil, but doesn't work with clay, high phosphorus crystallizes clay, making it more compact.

I also tested those Jobes' tomato spikes NPK 6-18-6, totally useless in clay.

Gardenguide.com gave a different ratio for flowers in pots: "Fertilizers used on flowers should contain low levels of nitrogen relative to phosphorus and potassium. A 5-10-10 formula (5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, 10 percent potassium) is ideal. Calcium may be in short supply in acid soils."

Read more: What Nutrients Do Flowers Need to Survive? | Garden Guides

Different soils have different nutrients requirements. Different root-stocks, different own-root roses (cluster-root, ropy, stringy or chunky stick) also have different needs.

What are your best fertilizing results, and soil-prep for particular own-root rose, or particular rootstock, for a particular soil (pH level & clay, loamy, or sand) ?

Comments (105)

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    I wish that Heirloom's BS self could appreciate my excellent drainage, LOL!

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lavender: Thank you for your honesty. Is your Heirloom grafted or own-root? When I grew Heirloom as own-root in a pot in 2013, it DID NOT like acid rain. Back then I didn't know about putting a "buffer" on top. So its root was wimpy and didn't survive my zone 5a winter.

    I'm grateful for Khalid's posting pics. of problems & diseases , same with Anna (Beverly Hills, CA). So glad I left the Rose forum in 2013 .. just to get away from the show-off & know-it-all gang ... to find truth and honesty here.

    Vast differences in roses' genetics as own-roots, differences in rootstock, differences in soil & climate ... zero point in preaching one's gospel & following anyone, or telling folks what to do. More useful just to share one's garden, including bush-shots in all seasons, like Khalid did.

    Sam's roses are grafted on multiflora with loamy soil & high-rainfall (46"), except for his Quietness as own-root. Carol's roses are grafted on multiflora and she grows roses in pots. Val's soil is sandy with high-rainfall (47"), hot Florida & own-root roses. Anna is in dry & hot Southern CA, alkaline soil & Dr. Huey rootstock in pots. Khalid's roses are grafted on Centifolia, with some own-roots, plus hot & monsoon seasons.

    What's best for my roses (grafted on Dr.Huey) in my last house of ACIDIC clay is COMPLETELY different from what's best for my roses as own-roots in present alkaline clay. What's best for roses in the ground is completely different from roses in pots.

    My present soil is rock hard & poor drainage, pH near 8, 99% own-root roses & tiny rootings via exchange. The biggest challenge in my zone 5a is to keep own-roots alive, despite -30 F in Jan & Feb wind-chill factor. Next week will be -2 F ( -19 C) and the strong wind will make it worse.

    Plants are different from each other, same with roses: white pine trees didn't like the leaves I dumped in 2015, their surface roots need oxygen & don't like to be covered up. Some roses like Dr.Huey-rootstock prefer dry & alkaline: don't like soaking wet & acidic leaves on top.

    I wish folks would specify one's soil & climate & rainfall & root-stock both in forums and HMF. That's more helpful than just posting spring-flush, or close-up of blooms.

  • Related Discussions

    How goes your garden and your soil prep?

    Q

    Comments (28)
    Dave and Paul raise good points. One has to also be very careful of self-appointed "International Inspectors" who prey on children, the elderly, and the infirm. Sometimes they call on the telephone -- if you listen closely, you can hear the sound of other hustlers working their pitch in the background -- but more often, they spam people on the Internet. First, they claim to have access to "tons" of "prime organic compost" which their family inherited or gained through close association with a corrupt government. Second, they plead for your help moving the compost to a "secure and trusted" location. Then, they offer a 20-50% cut to any "honest friend" who will help. Truth is, there is no such compost. Gardeners who take these hustlers at their word soon find there are "customs fees" and "port clearances" which must be paid. These villains will stop at nothing. They have been known to take the last dime out of the bank accounts of decent gardeners, and still keep asking for more. Don't be a victim. Stick with reputable International Inspectors. None of us will ever demand a fee for certification -- it's against our professional code -- and we all follow established standards, such as the one gallon minimum required for thorough scientific testing. All the best, -Patrick from the CotU Compost Testing Facility (CCTF)
    ...See More

    Your potting soil mix for old roses

    Q

    Comments (11)
    I've used mushroom compost with in ground roses routinely; and to a lesser extent with potted roses. In my experience, it does not 'harm' roses, but i have sometimes found that the bulk stuff is not as aged as you would like it, meaning it can burn the plants if applied directly to them. You can tell, easily, when the MC is not aged enough. When it is too fresh, you have to spread it out on your driveway (or wherever it has been dumped) and rake it around some to expose it for a while. And cope with the smell a bit. For this reason among others, it is always good to share rose blossoms with your next door neighbors. The other thing to watch out for with MC is that it will push your soil pH to the sweet side. If you are in sweet to neutral soil to begin with, this can be a problem for your plants. Solution is to mix the MC with some acidic matter like pine fines or coffee grounds. For roses growing in pots, the MC can be rather dense and can inhibit drainage. Again, fix is easy--mix with pine fines.
    ...See More

    Garden in Nov. & buy-list & rooting roses & soil prep& what's learned?

    Q

    Comments (49)
    Lavenderlace: Your "Doris" day looks almost thornless. Yellow Molineux is also known as low-thorn, and fades less than Julia Child. Pat Henry of Roses Unlimited is very nice. She put up with my changes in order for spring 2017. Her husband died Oct 24, 2015 .. I'm sad for her. Here's what I wrote to Roses Unlimited regarding my order: " Found that The Dark Lady and Golden Fairy Tale both have Rugosa heritage, both are very thorny. My alkaline heavy clay isn't suitable for Rugosa (prefers sandy/loamy). Would it be possible to change that to low-thorn Nahema and Lagerfeld? I also add Barbara Streisand to make up for my sin of changing my order !! Final list is 7 roses for April 2017 delivery: Nahema, Lagerfeld, Barbra Streisand, Sonia Rykiel, Firefighter, Versigny, and Bolero." So happy that Pat Henry approved my changes. I won't make any more changes !! I got poked plenty so I'm happy with low-thorn Nahema, Firefighter, Lagerfeld. Sonia Rykiel has much less thorn than Austin roses. My buy-list consists mostly of roses that died through my zone 5a winter, the only new ones are Barbra Streisand and Lagerfeld.
    ...See More

    Ground-planting potted roses in their pots?!

    Q

    Comments (6)
    The only two reasons I've seen this recommended are for gophers or voles as Sheila said, or for to constrain roses that sucker like gallicas. In both cases, you have to cut out substantial parts of the pot such as drill holes in the sides or cut out the bottom or the rose will trap itself and die from the constriction, if the poor drainage doesn't kill it first. I was advised when planting a particularly invasive gallica to take a full sized outdoor garbage can, cut out the bottom then plant ALL of the garbage can into the ground leaving just a lip above ground, putting the rose in the middle of that. Even with the 4' or so of the garbage can, some gallicas can send out runners below that level. Needless to say I made other plans involving that gallica since I simply can't fathom the size of that hole. For gophers, the better long-term solution I've seen is to bury the rose in a cage of hardware cloth that basically stays around the rose to protect the roots from chewing. Again, this sounds like a lot of work but necessary in some gopher climates. Beyond that, I can't think of any reason for long-term planting of a rose in a plastic pot into the ground. Some people do this temporarily, such as if they're leaving town for weeks with no one to water pots, but it's not a long-term solution. The same goes for those peat pots some roses and perennials come in, even though they're marketed to be planted in the pots. In reality, the peat pot wicks all the moisture away from the plant and it's usually a disaster. Best practice all around is to take the plant out of the pot to plant it, unless you have a big enough pot where you're planning to grow the rose in the (above ground) pot. Cynthia
    ...See More
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The above is what made me left Rose forum in 2013. It's my lawn !! That's when I shared about my only rose with RRD for the past 30 years. One person accused me of giving my rose RRD by fertilizing my lawn. Another person accused the mailman of giving RRD to my rose. Another person told me NOT to use a spreader to fertilizer my lawn, but to spray each dandelion with round-up.

    I didn't ask for their opinions nor post picture of my lawn ... I only shared what I did wrong: dumping acid-fertilizer high in nitrogen on that rose, but folks still want to play "I know your garden best, you don't !!".

    I got fed up with Mr & Mrs. know-it-all, and left. It's easier for control-freaks & ego-freaks to tell others what to do, than having the honesty and courage to share one's garden like Khalid.

    That's the best thing I did for my garden: left Rose forum & the vast crowd of Know-it-all, and find my own truth.

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    7 years ago

    That is a beautiful pic. it's so great having this forum and sharing what we know and experience. Being a newbie to roses it's a lot to digest and learn, so thank you everyone for sharing. I would never have thought about the effect of acid rain otherwise. Buffering the soil on pots and in the ground is one of the big things I learned this year.

    strawchicago z5 thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Vaporvac: I also appreciate you, Lavenderlace, Jess, Val, Filrose, Carol, Kelly, Runerat, Anna, Portia, springrose, msdorkgirl, Jabubaoski, Dr. Totoro ... the nice & smart women of Organic Rose who asked me thoughtful questions which helped me to search for truth.

    What I really like about you is the same thing that I admire in Khalid: posting honest pics. of roses with all their problems, rather than putting up a "good-front" like Rose forum.

    My most educational & valuable pictures. aren't the perfect ones .. you'll find tons of them in HMF & Rose forum. My priceless pics. were Munstead Wood's shots, which I showed the effect of gypsum, then lowering the pH.

    I learned zero from 2 1/2 years hanging out in Rose forum .. folks in there wasted energy in "self-glorification" and putting up a good front, or posting pics. just to show-off. It's even a bigger waste of energy when folks bickered or put each other down to feed their own-ego & opinions. The newbies who post pics. of problems are actually the most valuable.

    Opinions are cheap, they are just fleeting "blips" of the brains, but folks attacked each other over opinions on pine bark, winter-protection, fertilizer, RRD, RMV. Pine Park is a God-sent in hot climate (slowest to break down & neutralize alkaline tap), fantastic in breaking up my current alkaline clay, but was bad in my last house of acidic clay. It depends on one's soil and climate.

    In contrast, honesty and sharing problems in one's garden help others in the long-run. If everyone go through life putting up a good front, there's zero learning.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Straw, all of mine are own root. Another newbie question though. What is RRD? Love the photo of your lawn!

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Straw, your post above just loaded for me. I think that I might have just created a bad situation but since it's my first winter, too soon to tell.

    I just added a bunch of fresh shavings and manure in circles around the plants. They looked very cute bundled up for the wintry blast! I'm pretty sure you and the rest of the northern people are laughing at what we think is cold though, LOL!

    But.....since I was so worried about them dying after not hardening up at all, I hope that I didn't create a drainage problem.

    When it finally rains, it's going to run up next to the base of the plant. Will that cause them to try to fall over dead like they did with the grey clay balls in their mere presence?

    If dirt ever built up at the bottom of the plant BETWEEN branches after a hard rain, the canes looked sad until I dug out the centers. Does everybody do this? I know my neighbors certainly don't with their Knockouts and they look fine (at least from a distance).

    I worry that I won't be able to tell the difference between dying and dormancy! Do they always go dormant even if the weather is erratic like ours?

    Thanks again to all for all the hand-holding!

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Thanks, will check it out!

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Lavenderlace: Lucky you have alkaline & loamy soil, your roses are very healthy !! Potassium is essential for disease-prevention, and see below chart how potassium & major nutrients are most available at pH 7 to 8.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Excellent chart, very helpful, thanks Straw!

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    This past summer I have 2 tomato bed: One in front with 80+ bags of leaves dumped, and one bed in back with only 5 bags of leaves dumped in Oct.

    By summer, June 1, I planted my 30 tomatoes .. leaves were composted. The front bed got too much leaves & too much acid released which brought the soil pH to below 6: Not much leaves on those 24 tomatoes, lots of bare branches, since less bacteria to fix nitrogen at lower pH.

    The back tomato, with less leaves, less acid, pH around 7.4. The tomatoes are 10 times bigger & lush green leaves until heavy frost zapped them in mid-Nov.

    Tons of leaves on top is great to zap out weeds, but NOT GOOD for rainy climate where the pH can plunge down to below 5: less bacteria to fix nitrogen, more mold & fungi like blackspots, rust, and mildew.

    Below is Frederic Mistral in 2014 which I didn't get pH 8 horse manure, but I scattered gritty lime to neutralize acidic rain. Note lots of healthy leaves thanks to alkaline pH between 7 and 8.

    I put LEAVES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PLANTING HOLE of Fred at 2 feet deep. The acid released by leaves broke down the hard & very alkaline bottom clay layer, WHICH HELPS WITH DRAINAGE. By the time Fred's root reached down, the minerals are in SOLUBLE form (broken down by leaves' acid).

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Some pics. of leaves at bottom of planting hole, but alkaline topping (red-lava at pH 8.2, or gritty lime) ON TOP to buffer acidic rain, rather than acidic leaves through the fall. Below is Mary Magdalene with alkaline clay (pH 8) on top, plus black-peat humus

    Below is Jude the Obscure with red lava (pH 8.2) plus gritty lime (pH 9) to buffer acidic rain. It's on steep hill, so I could not use horse manure (pH 8).

    Below is King Arthur rose which I got for 1/2 price, end of June sale from Roses Unlimited. Pic. taken in late July. The red-lava rock DOES NOT RAISE THE pH as drastic as putting pea-gravel on top (hardens the soil).

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Heirloom roses is right about mixing heavy & fertile clay with 1/2 bark chips for aeration (more oxygen to roots) & better drainage. Heirloom roses is also right about putting ORGANIC MATTER AT BOTTOM OF PLANTING HOLE, RATHER THAN ON TOP.

    Too much acidic organic matter on like leaves ON TOP, soaked in acidic rain is like making kimchi: the pH drops, less bacteria, less nitrogen available for healthy leaves, and more pathogenic fungi like blackspots, mildew, and rust spores.

    I put half-rotted horse manure at 2 feet deep when I planted Christopher Marlow, that gave excellent drainage, plus the acid-release from organic matter dissolved the hard-minerals at the bottom, rather than DAMAGE ROOTS. Below is own-root Christopher Marlowe in 2014 (partial shade & 4 hrs. of sun)

    Below Christopher blooms were achieved with horse manure (pH 8) AT BOTTOM BELOW 2 FEET DEEP, and horse manure on top, plus chicken manure on top. In 2016 I dumped acidic leaves on top and that was a big-decline: coverting my alkaline clay to acidic clay was bad !!

    Same with Radio Times below. I put at least 20 banana peels at bottom of the planting hole. Potassium mobility is a 3, phosphorus mobility is a 1, best the planting hole.

    Here's the biggest advantage of NOT PUTTING acidic leaves on top, THAT ALLOW SNAPDRAGONs to self-seed itself. Leaves are best WHERE I don't want anything to grow: AROUND TREES OR AT BOTTOM OF PLANTING HOLE.

    That's for my cold & rainy climate (similar to Heirloom nursery). In my zone 5a it takes more than 1 year for leaves to decompose to neutral pH. However, leaves is fantastic ON TOP for dry & hot climate like CA.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm going through the Quizlet flashcards on soil & plant chemistry, so I'll put the main points here for future reference. Some excerpts from below link:

    https://quizlet.com/21351414/flashcards

    - have too much sand = don't retain water
    - have too much clay = retain too much water, roots can't get enough oxygen and suffocate

    - most soil particles are (-) charged
    - (+) charged ions (cations) adhere to soil particles Ex: Mg2+, Ca2+, K+)

    - Roots can only absorb cations (+) through soil solution, not soil
    - (-) charged plant nutrients, like nitrate, phosphate and sulfate are easily release because they don't bind to the soil particles.

    major component is humus
    - humus increases soil's capacity to exchange cations

    if soil is too basic, add sulfate
    - if soil is too acidic, add lime

    - if soil pH is below 5, aluminum ions are absorbed by roots, stunting growth and preventing uptake of calcium

    if a mineral moves freely in plant, symptoms appear in older organs first b/c growing tissues are sinks for nutrients in short supply.
    - if a mineral is immobile, it affects the young parts of the plant first. older tissues can have enough to get them thru in periods of short supply."

    *** From Straw: mobile minerals are: nitrogen (10 mobility), potassium (3 mobility .. deficiencies affect the LOWEST LEAVES. Immobile minerals are: calcium, iron, zinc, copper, boron ... deficiencies affect the UPPERMOST LEAVES .. these are best given in FREQUENT SOLUBLE low doses, rather than a big dump.

    Humus retains nutrients well for soil. Really like the result with black-peat-humus potting soil, mixed with sand, that produced healthy leaves in pots, versus nutritional deficiencies with cheap Schultz potting soil (mostly ground bark & peatmoss).

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Straw, I just went back to admire your CPM and Radio Times, just beautiful! I wonder if they would keep their winter leaves in a milder climate?

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lavender: I'm looking outside now .. after many bouts of -13 F to -10 F below zero, the roses with the MOST LOAMY & fast drainage soil still retain their green leaves: William Shakespeare 2000, which I spent 2 hours digging down to 2.5 feet for drainage, baby Dee-lish, and Tchaikovsky (I mixed 50% wood-chips at neutral pH with my clay for fast drainage).

    CPM, Radio times, and Christopher Marlow are hardy Austin roses with big root system, yes, they will keep their leaves in your fast drainage & loamy soil.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Oh good news! Jude the Obscure lost his leaves while Heritage looks like it's still summer. I'm starting to get pickier when I choose new roses. However, Jude's scent is so much better that his ugly foliage is worth it for me!


    Meant to tell you that I'm super happy with Evelyn so far so thanks for the recommendation!

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • aztcqn
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow!!!!!! SO much information. Trying to organize in my head. Thanks for taking time to create these informative posts, StrawC.
    I just received a long wanted rose from D. Austin. I had emailed if they had any and was s disappointed to learn they had sold all and would not grow any more. Today, I received a box with a healthy Tradescant in bare root. Completely forgot I had ordered one last year. Such a great surprise!!! I am so happy to receive this long coveted rose after the loss of my Captain John Ingram.

    My plan is to plant in potting soil mixed with pine bark mixed with my leaf mold compost. I was considering the Scotts Topsoil, than followed this thread and thought MG organic, now, I'm not sure as reading on the peat induced wet issues made me rethink. I hate that peat that repels water and is useless in a mix. For cactus it's the worst in dryer conditions. I have sphagnum moss for my orchids and that stuff is the best. I only use on plants growing on pieces of bark or for convalescing orchids that need to grow new roots. Excellent medium for that.

    I don't have great looking roses, atm, but thought to post this happy face poking through the winter icy rains in the yard.

    strawchicago z5 thanked aztcqn
  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    I always love seeing happy faces, thank you aztcqn!

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    aztcqn: Wow!! I wish I can touch that orchid .. looks so velvety & glowing red. That's my favorite red-color, I wish I can find a rose with such shade of red.

    Mixing in pine bark & leaf-mold compost will be acidic, some lime or Azomite (pH 9) is needed to neutralize the acidity. If there's less rain, then alkaline tap water will UP the pH.

    Rain on the west coast is around 5.6, safer zone than my rain pH of 4.7.

    Miracle-Gro ORGANIC potting soil was the front-runner in my kid's science experiment with 6 different soil-mixes. That has peatmoss & perlite & lime & wetting agent plus composted chicken manure. But she grew mung-bean plants, which needs more moisture than roses.

  • aztcqn
    7 years ago

    Ah okay, thank you. Will consider what's going in there and when.

    Thank you! This is my favorite orchid. Actually any orchid blooming in my yard becomes my favorite. Purples and wines, the color of blood (alizarin crimson) are really beautiful to me. This is the reason I had to have Tradescant. That deep velvety wine color quite different from W. Shakespeare and the scent. Oh wow, the fragrance of Trad is fantastic!

    lavenderlace, Thank you. I will take any beauties shining their faces at me at any time. :]

    strawchicago z5 thanked aztcqn
  • Terri S
    7 years ago

    Straw, I just finished this entire thread and the other links you sent also. I am in PA. Red clay. 4.5 acid rain according to your chart. So if I am planting in ground, grafted roses, can you list the layers you would use from the bottom of a 2' deep hole up through the top dressing and "mulch"?

    And...we do not have chickens. We have ducks. Their huge winter enclosure has straw very thick. So, nice poopy duck straw by Spring. I know duck poo is much lower in nitrogen then chicken poo. I am wondering if I can use this straw on top of my roses as a mulch. Alfalfa is much better than straw as straw is just carbon but with the poo, what do you think? Or should I go through the whole composting cycle for a year or two. Composting is hard here. It is completely open farm land and very windy. This makes it hard to keep the heat in. This is an acre and a half so I can't use a tumbler type of composter. I need volume and cheap but good volume.


    strawchicago z5 thanked Terri S
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Terri, you are right about nitrogen in duck poo is less than poultry poo.

    http://www.agweb.com/article/npk_levels_in_manure/

    Per 1,000 gallon: Broiler-poo has 63 N, 40 P, and 29 K

    Duck has 22 N, 15 P, and 8K

    Duck has 1/3 nitrogen of chicken-manure, means it's less hot & less salty and can be used ON TOP of straw. The nitrogen in duck-manure will fasten the composition of straw. In cold zone, composting if faster if spread out for best aeration & prevent matting.

    Duck manure is much lower in potassium, so look for fertilizer with sulfate of potash NPK 0-0-50, salt index of 43. The ratio of potassium should be the same as nitrogen, for disease-prevention and for blooming.

    ARE YOUR ROSES GRAFTED ON DR. HUEY OR MULTIFLORA?

    If your roses are grafted on Dr. Huey, they need excellent drainage, and prefer alkaline, I would use HomeDepot formula for fast-draining mix:

    Cactus and Succulent Mix -- for cactus, succulents and other plants requiring good drainage: 3 parts organic matter with 2 parts sand, perlite or vermiculite.

    For an in-ground hole, at 2 feet deep: I would put dig out all the stones that block drainage at BELOW 2 feet level, and replace with chunky organic matter (leaves) for faster drainage. Then a layer of native red clay at 2 feet.

    Instead of sand & perlite, use woodchips to mix with your red-clay. Woodchips have neutral pH, and decompose to slightly alkaline. Since you have acidic red-clay, PINE BARK, CEDAR BARK at pH 4 won't be best.

    The woodchips mixed with clay is to provide AERATION or OXYGEN for best root-growth. That's for the root-zone layer. When I took the Quizlet on soil chemistry, it stated, "ROOT GROWTH IS BEST WITH 50% OXYGEN AND 50% WATER".

    Heirloom Rose Nursery in a high-rain Oregon is right in recommending mixing 50% woodchips with clay for faster-drainage, to prevent standing-acidic-rain-water which harm roses' roots, either breaking out in blackspots, or die through cold winter.

    The only times that I achieved 40+ blooms per flush was with ALKALINE pH TOPPING (horse manure at pH 8 with shell lime) to neutralize acidic rain. In rainy climate, the topmost layer should be alkaline (shell-lime is best with most trace elements, besides 90% calcium).

    Farmers often use lime along with nitrogen fertilizer in spring time, since nitrogen is most available at ALKALINE pH 7 to 8. Chicken-manure has 8% calcium (via shell-lime in chicken-feed). Duck-manure has less calcium, thus calcium is needed.

    In my alkaline clay, best results were with excellent aeration (oxygen) at root-level by mixing in wood-chips, plus leaves AT BOTTOM of planting hole for drainage & moisture retention & force roots to go deeper for water..

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Annie L. McDowell always have perfect foliage, note the pine-bark chips on the surface: I mixed 50% pine bark (pH 4) with my alkaline clay (pH 8), since it's a multiflora-parentage rose, which prefers ACIDIC.

    But for OWN-ROOT Meilland or Romantica roses, or roses GRAFTED ON DR.HUEY, I mix 50% woodchips (neutral pH, and decompose to slightly alkaline). I got these woodchips for free from my village, or from ComEd electrical utility company, which trim trees & big pile of chips for the public.

    Melissa in Italy, with alkaline clay, put half-decomposed straw AT BOTTOM OF PLANTING HOLE for her grafted-roses.

  • Terri S
    7 years ago

    Straw, Thanks a lot for clarifying. By wood chips do you mean some brand that is sold? If so what kind? I read in another thread from you that cedar and pine are not good and that any unknown wood chips could contain Black Walnut which kills.So I would appreciate it if you could be specific.

    Also, you gave the layers up to 2'. Are you saying use the red clay + wood chips the whole way up? Then top with what? The duck poo straw? composed? raw? Scott's Top Soil? Coop Poop?

    Then add Tomato tone on top? Or mix that info the wood chips/red clay mix along with gypsum? and when the duck poop straw goes on use calcium, right?

    I usually fertilize weekly with Fish emuslion. Is that still okay?

    Most of my roses are on Dr. Huey. I have two struggling roses (Aloha) that are own root. I really have no luck with them.

    Keep in mind that while we tend to have wet Winters, Summers can be totally dry and un-Godly hot for months. Example: In 2015 we got 5" of rain between Feb and September!

    strawchicago z5 thanked Terri S
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Less rain in Feb, March, April can really kill roses, if there's no melting snow or thick mulch on top. My French Meilland roses have woody, but shallow roots, and died easily through a dry-spring. When I dug these up in May, the top 12" of soil were bone-dry, since I didn't mulch, or put leaves on top.

    If you have wet late fall & winter, then fall is the best time to lime your roses. Calcium moves down VERY SLOWLY, and need acidic rain water to break down, thus liming in wet fall makes more sense than dry spring.

    Calcium is best in the planting hole. Tomato Tone has decent potassium (a 3 mobility), phosphorus (a 1 mobility), and 10% calcium (hardy move), so Tomato is best MIXED IN WITH SOIL, in the planting hole. I used 2 cups for a large 2.5 wide x 2' deep hole.

    I don't know if you have neutral pH red-clay or acidic-red clay like Jess in South Africa. Do you have pink hydrangeas or blue hydrangeas nearby? My last house was acidic clay, so topping with acidic leaves were bad for roses grafted on Dr. Huey. My current house is alkaline clay .. topping with acidic leaves is OK if there's excellent drainage to prevent standing-acidic rain-water.

    For alkaline clay & dry climate like California, leaves are fantastic on top. But for my alkaline clay, with 38 to 40" of annual rain Chicagoland, leaves are best at bottom of planting hole.

    It really depends on your soil pH as to where to put leaves or straw. I put 9-months & half-decomposed leaves at root-level and THAT REALLY hurt my own-root roses and Dr.Huey .. too acidic. For cold zone even chopped up leaves need 2 years before it decompose to neutral pH.

    If you don't have access to free wood-chips, then half-rotted straw is great to mix into planting hole. Below link lists the moisture-holding capacity of straw compared to wood-chips. Straw has a water-holding capacity of 294.5%, compared to 99.4% of birch-bark, compared to 126% of red-pine, compared to 124% of ground corn cob.

    Minnesota Forestry study on mulch & straw

    "Therefore, to obtain absorptive capacity equal to 1 pound of straw9 it would require approximately 3 pounds of birch chips or 2 p~unds of red pine 9 aspen9 or jack pine chips. Ground corncobs 9 sawdust 9 and planer ~vings showed no advantages over the wood chips."

    Even with straw, it depends on what type of straw you have: Pine-straw stays dry (it does not absorb water), and I tested the pH of months-old pine needles: it's neutral pH, and the below link is right that pine-straw does not lower the pH;

    http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2702/

    I used alfalfa hay (looks like straw when dry) and it's fantastic on top of roses. I tested the pH in red-cabbage juice: slightly acidic, but not as acidic as alfalfa meal. I used alfalfa hay at bottom of planting hole, and it's VERY SLOW in decomposing, still intact when I dug it up 6 months later.

    SLOW-DECOMPOSE is safe in the planting hole, since it doesn't give off fast acid as chopped up leaves (which hurt plenty of my roses), when I put inside planting hole.No harm in my mixing pine-bark (pH 4) into my alkaline clay, since pine-bark IS VERY SLOW to decompose, still intact after several years.

    The most blooms ever that I had seen was a rose at HomeDepot, with 50% pine-bark and 50% peatmoss, plus lime & fertilizer added. That rose had plenty of aeration (oxygen) via pine bark mixed with soil. When I put that rose into my heavy clay, it refused to bloom !! Not enough oxygen in heavy clay.

  • Terri S
    7 years ago

    Weirdly, my hydrangeas are both pink and blue. I do not amend them at all.

    Thanks. I will look for cyprus mulch. I hope it is easy to find.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Cypress has high water-holding capacity, best mixed in the planting hole. If your straw has duck-manure, it's too hot to mix into planting hole. I killed one rose by putting COMPOSTED, but stinky chicken-manure in the planting hole, anything high in nitrogen in the planting hole is too hot & too salty for tender roots.

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Terri, if you're worried about Black Walnut, you could try calling a tree trimming company and let them know what you want. Often, they may be removing or trimming a specific tree species and will know in advance. They may even deliver the chips as they have to pay tipping fees otherwise. These wood chips do not need to be composted if applied on top of your soil, especially if you put straw and duck manure down first.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Terri, if you end up with wood shavings from horse stables, it should be free from black walnut as it's quite dangerous for them.

  • Terri S
    7 years ago

    I'm surprised horse people would use a product like that. I have seen the thoroughbred stables here fence off black walnut trees to keep the horses away. Then maybe the BW shavings are okay for horses though.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Black walnut is VERY BAD for horses, including even walking on the shavings. So stable shavings will be free from them!

  • Terri S
    7 years ago

    Lavenderlace - That is reasonable considering the observations here. Thanks for clarifying. Now to find a horse farm who will drop off a load to me...

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Horse stable here is eager to get rid of their manure. They told me to come and help myself, no need for permission. While driving in the country, I often see big signs "Free mushroom compost" or horse manure.

    The horse manure pile here is 1/2 the size of a ranch house. University Extensions urged stables to add nitrogen to their manure, so it's easier to get rid off. The sawdust-shavings in horse manure ROBS the soil of nitrogen. So I always use alfalfa meal NPK 2-1-2 with horse manure topping.

    I tested horse-manure in the planting hole: As fresh, it burnt the foliage. As composted, it turned Munstead Wood's red into blackish-red & but fantastic deeper colors in pink & other shades. Composted horse manure in the planting hole of clay doesn't work: too dense & salt is too high.

    I have better luck with LARGE CHUNK WOODCHIPS for aeration of dense clay.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Straw, is that manure from grass hay fed or alfalfa fed animals? Grains with molasses?


    I liked your seaweed idea from another thread but you just made a good point about salt being too high for your clay. Were you able to make it work?

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Lavender: local horse stable feeds them with alfalfa pellets and oats. One time a bunch of oat-plants sprouted from the manure. We have so much rain that it washes off the salt from the manure. My best bloomings were with 3 to 4 applications of horse manure per summer.

  • Khalid Waleed (zone 9b Isb)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "My best bloomings were with 3 to 4 applications of horse manure per summer."

    Thanks for the info, Straw. How do you compare horse manure with chicken manure?

    strawchicago z5 thanked Khalid Waleed (zone 9b Isb)
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Great question, Khalid. Chicken manure does nothing to the colors, perhaps due to 8% calcium, but it intensifies the scent, thanks to zinc, copper, boron added to chicken-feed.

    Horse manure prompts faster growth, due to the growth-hormone in alfalfa-feed. First year own-root Dee-lish became taller than me in November, thanks to 2 applications of horse manure. Horse manure has fatty acids from oats, which makes leaves shiny & glossy.

    Decades ago when I was 33 year old, two neighbors grew roses besides me. The neighbor with horse manure grew the best roses !! I visited her rose garden, and was amazed at how large & shiny her foliage were,. her stems were bigger.

    In 2011 I put tons of horse manure on Golden Celebration, 1 foot per application .. and I did 4 applications that year. Only 3 lowest leaves with blackspots in late fall. when I moved Golden Celebration the next year, the top 2 feet were fluffy soil, and the root was HUGE. Fluffy horse manure enables aeration & more oxygen to root, plus the shell lime in horse manure is more available to maximize nitrogen-absorption.

    The best thing about horse manure is DEEPER colors in blooms: deeper orange, deeper yellow, and deeper pink & red, from the many trace elements. Horse manure is worth getting for the vivid colors of blooms alone. Some pics. from my garden with roses on horse manure. Below is Meilland rose Sweet Promise 2007:

    Deeper bloom-colors with horse manure, esp. on pink Comte de Chambord.

    Francis Blaise and Liv Tyler's perfect foliage in late fall, when frost zapped the tomato vines on lowest right corner of below picture:

    Below deep-pink color on 1st-year own-root Radio Times was achieved with horse manure and alfalfa meal NPK 2-1-2, with NO OTHER FERTILIZER.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow, super results Straw! Which plant has those great shiny leaves in the first picture? Is that one of your Meilland's?

    You've made me a fan of Radio Times already, but which ones are the dark ones in the beautiful bouquet? The center and bottom?

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Lavender: The shiny leaves belong to Meilland Rose Sweet Promise 2007, that died thanks to my piling up acidic leaves in fall 2015 & plus tons of acidic rain in Dec. MEILLAND ROSES LIKE IT ALKALINE AS OWN-ROOTS. The center dark-purple is William Shakespeare 2000, an Austin rose that keep green leaves through zone 5a winter. The bottom is Wise Portia, an Austin rose.

    W.S. 2000 normal color is dark-red with horse manure, but I used sulfate of potash to shift the color to the blue zone, resulting in purple. High phosphorus shifts blooms to the red-zone, versus high-potassium shifts bloom to the blue-zone.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    That explains why WS has never caught my eye before. That's so interesting that you were able to shift the color that way! Does rain and time shift them back?


    I love the Meilland shiny leaves! I was afraid at first of planting too many of them because they didn't seem like they had as big of a range on zones and I was afraid that they wouldn't be hardy enough. But so far, they are becoming favorites!

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Lavender: Both high-potassium red-lava-rock and sulfate of potash NPK 0-0-50 keep W.S. purple. But my last 2 horse manure applications, along with Coop-Poop NPK 2-4-3 ... too much phosphorus and W.S. became dark-red !!

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    I think that I shared my soft salmon pink becoming harsh dark coral, LOL! But it did seem to wear off, thank goodness.


    Do you ever try to change the color on purpose in the vase?

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I bought some blue dye (for cake frosting) and dunk Radio Times into it, and it turned into a horrible uneven color blue/pink. Never again.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Ha ha, but a good experiment, right?

    strawchicago z5 thanked lavenderlacezone8
  • Anna
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    We are having storms and heavy rains here in California. So now after all my soil preparation for the new season I feel like the rain is washing away all the nutritions from the pots. Yestrday I applied an organic dry rose fertilizer too all my pots just before the rain, and agin I feel I need to reapply after the heavy rain is over.

    Khalid: what is your fertilizing method during the moonsun season? This is something new for me since California is rather a dry zone.

  • aztcqn
    7 years ago

    Good question. I'm curious, too.

  • lavenderlacezone8
    7 years ago

    Sometimes this site has a delay on Khalid's posts and they don't show up for days, at least for me.

  • Khalid Waleed (zone 9b Isb)
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    anna, lavenderlace, aztcqn: There is something weird with this site due to which the posts do not show up in time. Most weird thing is that if I make a post from a new device (a new loptop, mobile phone etc), it is not visible even to me when I login from a different device. I can only see my own posts, immediately after posting, if I log on from the same machine..... I haven't understood how this happens.

    Feeding during monsoon has been a problem for me since past few years and I have tried different models. Since I wanted to be 100% organic, most solutions that I tried didn't work that well and my roses would stand exhausted and depleted by the end of monsoon. This year, I fed them after the monsoon in August and September with a doze that comprised 1 tea spoon each of Potash, gypsum, a water soluble 36-0-12 nitrogen fertilizer and a trace element supplement that contained Fe, Zn, Cu, Mn, Co and Mb mixed in 18 liters of water (capacity of the bucket). This had a good effect on the roses in pots that you can see in my threads of that time. There is also lot of discussion about the pros and cons of various methods... Fall Roses in Islamabad......zone 9b, October Roses.........zone 9b & September Roses, zone 9b Islamabad

    best regards