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Soil pH & soil type & fertilizer for no-spray own-root roses

strawchicago z5
5 months ago
last modified: 5 months ago

Generalizations such as "roses prefer acidic soil" don't apply to certain own-root roses, such as French or Meilland roses. However, multiflora-rootstock does better in loamy & acidic soil than alkaline dense soil. My 3 own-root Comte de Chambord do great in dense clay for 10 years, while Comte (grafted on multiflora) declined after 5 years. The grafted-on-multiflora bloomed only with tons of rain & soluble fertilizer high in phosphorus & potassium.

In contrast, OWN-ROOT French or Meilland roses thrive in my alkaline clay at pH 8, and decline when I made my clay more acidic. Below is Meilland Sweet Promise in pH 8 clay, fertilized with alfalfa meal & horse manure & Lilly Miller NPK 10-5-4 in early spring. Firefighter (French Meilland) at right also prefers alkaline clay.


Sweet Promise has an apple-blossom scents, which is better than green-apple scent in Aloha. French roses are bred in alkaline clay region (southern France).


Sweet Promise (French Meilland) thrives in wet & poor-drainage clay with low-thorn & glossy leaves. Among my 134 own-roots, low-thorn roses need more moisture than thorny roses. Annie L. McDowell is one example.


French Meilland own-roots get woody & chunky fast, and can handle dense clay better. These roots require more potassium & calcium, versus cluster-roots like Blue Mist and multiflora-rootstock prefer loamy & fluffy soil. Phosphorus helps with branching of roots, so cluster-roots benefit from high-phosphorus fertilizer, and cluster-root also does better with loamy & sandy than thick clay. A few own-root roses in my garden thrive in loamy & fluffy spots with high-phosphorus fertilizer: polyantha Cordelia, Blue Mist (cluster-root) , W.S. 2000, blue or purple own-roots (with multiflora-genetics). The rest of my 134 own-roots which matured to chunky & woody roots do best at alkaline pH (above 7) where potassium and calcium are most available. Below are Kordes roses (Shocking Blue) and Barcelona .. both have cluster root that prefer fluffy soil.


Golden Celebration (yellow), W.S. 2000 (red), Twilight Zone (purple) do better in loamy soil than dense clay .. these roots take longer to mature to woody & chunky.


The advantage of cluster-root like W.S. 2000 is it stays healthy in acidic rain. Below is 10th-year own-root W.S. 2000 planted next to the rain-spout.


Lady of Shalott (orange) below is also a cluster-root, but it's thorny so it can handle dry & fluffy soil. LOS hated my dense clay. I had to put a bag of sand in the planting hole before LOS improved. LOS also likes the high-phosphorus chicken manure .. while French Meilland roses prefer high potassium & calcium.


My red roses: The Dark Lady, Barcelona, W.S. 2000, the Squire, Munstead Wood, W.S. 2000, Tess d'Ubervilles .. all have a higher need for iron. The blue roses (Poseidon & Lagerfeld) bloom best in tons of acidic rain. Old Garden roses like Comte de Chambord (lower pink) also do best with acidic rain.


Kordes roses like Deep Purple (below), or Savannah also do best with acidic rain. Savannah refuses to bloom unless it's all-day rain. Kordes roses become stingy with my alkaline tap at pH 9. In contrast, French Meilland roses bloom easily with alkaline tap water, if soluble fertilizer is given.


Among my 20 Austin roses, Pat Austin, Evelyn, the Squire, Mary Magdalene, and Radio Times bloom well with alkaline tap water at pH 9, if given soluble fertilizer. But the low-thorn Austin roses (Golden Celebration, Queen of Sweden) need acidic rain water to bloom as own-roots. Below is Evelyn as 10-year-own-root.


Comments (130)

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    BirdsLoveRoses: I'm sold on SOLUBLE fertilizer after seeing ingredients in granular Lilly Miller with many SOLUBLE trace elements & SOLUBLE phosphorus and potassium for blooming. I got 15 blooms on Sonia Rykiel in a dinky pot (watered with pH 9 tap-water) in hot summer, with SOLUBLE MG-for roses that dissolve easily in alkaline-tap. I don't think roses' roots can digest solid-fertilizer, and studies showed that potassium and phosphorus are best in SOLUBLE forms for plants to utilize.

    In contrast. I got zero blooms when I mixed alfalfa meal into my soil .. that remained a solid and killed a $30 peony. I got zero blooms with Espoma Holly tone with INSOLUBLE stuff like feather meal, alfalfa meal, bone meal, etc. Fall 2018 with Holly tone fertilizer resulted in 6 feet tall own-root Dee-lish with one bloom, and 12 feet tall James Galway with zero blooms, compared to last year with lots of blooms on Dee-lish with SOLUBLE sulfate of potash.

    Also last year during hot & dry with alkaline tap-water at pH 9, I tested MG-soluble for roses at NPK 18-24-16, plus sulfate of potash on Evelyn and it broke out in twice more buds. Evelyn is 10-year own-root.

  • slumgullion in southern OR
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I'm so impressed with Strawchicago's encyclopedic knowledge! I bought some cracked corn today and this weekend will try the corn water trick on my rhodies and azaleas, and gardenias and hydrangeas. I've been putting acid plant food on them, but then I have to keep the chickens out or they eat the sulfur balls and then their tummies get upset. If the corn water works, I can feed the acidified water to the plants and the corn to the hens and everyone will be happy!

    As for roses...I think I must be extremely blessed! Everything grows and flowers fine here! All different kinds and classes. I throw some G&B organic rose food at them once a year, plus a scoop of horse poop, a few Tbsp of epsom salt, and everyone does great (at least in rose-land). Maybe some kelp if I think about it, and of course the hens leave their little contributions here and there. But generally I haven't had the kinds of big soil problems I see others dealing with...I've never done a soil test, and gave up even on trying to test the soil pH.

    strawchicago z5 thanked slumgullion in southern OR
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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Straw - I think your chart explains my Lasting Love's problem as lack of phosphorous! Really dark green leaves (doesn't look good) and purple/pink (almost fluorescent) edges. Really strange. So if it's lack of phosphorous...how do I fix it? Should I try to fix the pH first? I had been watering with the hose...and I put on a couple of handfuls of alfalfa pellets. I think I did that twice though...once in April and once in May. Thank you!!! I can take a picture for reference for others...but I won't be able to share it until tomorrow night at the earliest.

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: you are right about phosphorus def. with dark-green leaves and fuschia pink edges. Click on below to see purple/pink edge on corn with phosphorus def.

    High calcium or high pH cause phosphorus def. One time I ran out of potting soil so I topped a geranium pot with icky-yellowish-sub-clay (pH near 9 plus high in calcium). And the geranium's leaves turned gaudy pinkish-purple at the edge ... so bizarre !!

    High calcium induces phosphorus deficiency (many links posted that). There are 4 types of "sulfur":

    1) Sulfur as a major nutrient in plant growth. It's NOT available at low pH, such as that of acidic rain (pH 4.5). Sulfur def. results in the ENTIRE PLANT pale, plus stunt growth (1/2 size bush), plus less flowering. To correct: raise the pH to neutral with powder lime, sulfur as a plant-nutrient is most available at neutral to alkaline pH.

    2) Acidic Elemental sulfur (the yellow dust) sold cheap on Amazon at $17 for 5 lb. to kill insects plus to lower soil pH. "Let the soil sit for at least one week and up to one month before planting. This lessens the danger of sulfur being converted by excess water into hydrogen sulfide, which is corrosive to plant roots and increases the opportunity for soil bacteria to convert sulfur into root-accessible sulfuric acid before you plant." SFgate link.

    3) Sulfate compounds, such as gypsum (calcium sulfate with 21% sulfur, very acidic & kills earthworms). Or sulfate of potash (18% sulfur, less acidic so needs vinegar to dissolve in my alkaline tap at pH 9). Or Ammonium sulfate (salty nitrogen fertilizer to produce fast deep green growth spurt, also lowers soil pH).

    4) Garden sulfur (white granules) such as Jobes' or Espoma's Soil-Acidifier. This has a large % of gypsum (calcium sulfate) and folks complain that Jobes' soil-acidifier can't even dissolve in water. Using this will produce growth spurt due to SOLUBLE calcium .. like 1st year-own-root Munstead threw a 3-feet octopus cane in a dinky pot after I put some gypsum on top .. he gave 3 blooms for the entire year !! Too much of garden sulfur (has calcium) will result in growth spurt but induces deficiencies in phosphorus, zinc, and boron.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Aerbk: My answers are in bold below

    Pea-gravel is best in smallest size possible to "re-mineralize" poor soil in high-rain area. Tree roots steal lots of calcium & nitrogen from soil. After blocking tree-roots with cement blocks, I mix pea-gravel into poor soil for slow-released nutrients. With my 38" to 40" of acidic rain at pH 4.5, pea-gravel break down slowly, less so than red-lava-rock (high in iron, boron, and potassium). Vintage Garden used to top their roses with crushed red lava to encourage rooting.


    David Austin rose food vs Espoma, Mills Magic: David Austin rose food has NPK 10-8-10 and they told me it's well-rotted chicken manure. Chicken manure has SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium & trace elements so that help with blooming. Espoma is best INSIDE the planting hole since it has LESS-SOLUBLE & slow-released feather meal, alfafa meal, bone meal (can't be used if pH is more than 7). The worst one is Espoma Holly Tone NPK 4-3-4 (has white sulfur with gypsum) which made my roses too tall with zero blooms in hot & dry.

    Lilly Miller granular fertilizer at NPK 5-10-10 is best for hot & dry (I recommended that to Diane in alkaline Idaho back in 2012). Lilly Miller Acid fertilizer NPK 10-5-4 is for spring time with higher nitrogen. Lilly Miller produces more blooms since it has chicken manure (high in boron, copper, and zinc) plus SOLUBLE trace-elements.

    Roses Unlimited uses Mills Magic granular fertilizer at NPK 6-5-1 and SOLUBLE Mills easy feed at NPK 20-10-6. Mills Magic granular fertilizer has "alfalfa meal, fish meal, steamed bone meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, activated sludge, and an organic compost activator." Fish meal and sewage sludge has SOLUBLE phosphorus and trace elements. But NPK of 6-5-1 is too low in potassium & won't help with disease-prevention, and its bone meal can't be used at pH above 7. Mills Magic SOLUBLE Easy feed is better with NPK 20-10-6 with SOLUBLE trace-elements to induce blooming, plus SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium.

    "EasyFeed is a combination of Epsom Salts, sequestrine chelated iron, soluble seaweed extract, fish solubles, urea and other soluble fertilizers. NPK analysis is 20-10-6."

    I look at your Vermont Compost link, and it has "composted manure and plant materials, blond sphagnum peat moss, granite meal, animal and/or protein meal, black rock phosphate, kelp meal, gypsum, vermiculite and langbeinite." I honestly don't think it's worth the high price, considering the 1st ingredients are cheap manure & leaves & peat moss, animal meat-meal. Most likely be high in phosphorus like the composted manure & humus bag I got for $2 from Menards which made my roses into minis with blackspots.

    High phosphorus induces nitrogen & zinc & manganese and iron deficiencies. Zap out zinc (#1 anti-fungal element) and I'll get instant blackspots. Zap out nitrogen and I'll get roses which can't grow. YES to your soluble fish emulsion below, fish emulsion is best for pots since it's less salt than chemical fertilizer:
    http://www.organicgem.com/

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Re-post the info. on red-lava rock which I posted 5 years ago in organic rose forum. I tested red-lava rock many times for the past 5 years: Topped crushed-red-lava rock on Carding Mill and that was the healthiest year. Mixed red-lava-rock into the planting hole of tomatoes and I got bumper crop. Red lava rock "thickens" soil with its alkaline potassium & magnesium so soil is denser & more moisture retention. Red roses like red lava rock with its high iron.

    http://www.palmercc.com/lavarock.htm

    Nitrate Nitrogen.................................4.0 p.p.m.
    Phosphorus........................................6.0 p.p.m.
    Potassium.........................................59.0 p.p.m.
    Zinc.........................................................6 p.p.m.
    Iron..................................................10.0+ p.p.m.
    Copper...............................................5.5+ p.p.m.
    Magnesium.......................................2.0+ p.p.m.
    Boron.................................................10.0 p.p.m.
    Sulfate.................................................7.0 p.p.m.
    Organic Material...........................................5%
    PH.........................................................8.2 Units
    Calcium..................................1.3 Meq/100 gm*






  • aerbk7b
    5 months ago

    Straw — thank you, thank you for answering my questions in detail! Especially re my tree issue. It sounds like I can at least go with using up the bag of David Austin rose food I already have. Won’t reorder Espoma. (Have only ever used the rose or tomato formulas, not the holly...)
    I never put fertilizer in the planting hole because of the tree root issue, but also had always read NOT to at planting a new rose? I have put always a banana peel for potassium, then compost, and, I guess unfortunately aged cow manure. I have no access to horse manure here in the city - at least during the pandemic. I used to have access to bunny manure/compost but that friend sadly moved away. Though i had only had enough to try that on our community garden plot, not our roses.

    I’m interested in the problems you raised in a separate post re alfalfa meal being un/less available? (Having already put that down earlier in the spring..) Would that be less an issue with alfalfa tea vs meal? I do notice i’ve got a number of basal breaks now, and the budding looks pretty good so far.

    Also wondering if/how all of this science translates for differing growing purposes? I think you’re mainly growing for cutting? Whereas have I have all climbers to cover our fences, one of those as a screen, except for 1 perle d’or we got last year.

    strawchicago z5 thanked aerbk7b
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Aerbk: I tested mixing in Espoma Tomato Tone NPK 3-4-6 into the planting hole, and tomatoes had twice more fruits (thicker stems than composted manure) due to high potassium at 6. I tested mixing Rose tone NPK 4-3-2 into pots, and roses are much more vigorous, but that DID NOT increase blooming since its potassium & phosphorus are from less soluble sources. The best blooming comes from SOLUBLE potassium & phosphorus & trace elements. Espoma Tone product is safe to mix 1 cup since it's a fine-powder and blends in with soil in planting hole. But larger particle like Jobes' granular fertilizer was bad ... own-roots can't cope with large chunks of fertilizer inside planting hole.

    I'm convinced that high phosphorus induces fungal disease due to the suppression of zinc (#1 antifungal trace element). High phosphorus also zaps out nitrogen, roses can't re-grow leaves. I did countless experiments with high-phosphorus: Bought an expensive ORGANIC composted chicken manure and put that into planting hole, it has no antibiotics so Pink Peace grew tall but got the worst blackspot in an excellent drainage spot. The other Pink Peace planted in my native clay had zero blackspots. Then I was absent-minded and put the entire bag of composted cow manure into the planting hole of La Reine and Rouge Royale. Both were stunt in growth like mini-roses (the antibiotics in cow manure zapped out nitrogen-fixing bacteria). Both lost leaves from blackspots. In contrast, I had a 100% healthy La Reine for many years in my native clay until it died in my zone 5a winter.

    Alfalfa meal is great if one has all-day acidic-rain to break it down & make it SOLUBLE. I had seen growth spurt in own-roots topped with alfalfa meal in all-day rain. But NOT best for hot & dry weather when I "cooked" a $30 peony to death by mixing alfalfa meal with clay .. the decomposition is so fast & hot & acidic.

    I killed a 100% healthy rose "Louis Este" by moving it and mixing in alfalfa pellets. Root injury occurred when alfalfa pellets at pH 5.8 decomposed to even more acidic with acidic rain. Alfalfa pellets kill roots fast since pellets are bigger pockets of acidity, versus alfalfa meal is neutralized by my alkaline clay.

    Alfalfa tea is fantastic if soaked for less than 1 day. But if one soak alfalfa pellets in water for several days until it becomes "sour", it's like watering roses with Kimchi or sauerkraut water. Great in alkaline region like CA, but bad in high-rain acidic East coast.

    Climbers and roses grafted on Dr.Huey (a climber) have a higher need for potassium. Potassium THICKENS roots and climbers have woody &chunky roots (like trees) and NOT alfalfa-sprouts cluster-roots like petunias ... annual flowers have higher need for phosphorus for branching of roots. I always douse my climbers (Crown Princess Mag, James Galway) with SOLUBLE sulfate of potash, that force them to bloom rather than being 10 feet tall stingy giants.

    Potassium forces blooming plus thicken rose-tissue to prevent pests and diseases. Potassium is more available as in a solution to roots.

  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Straw - too much calcium? Hmm....I googled alfalfa pellets, and it said that they have a 5:1 ratio of calcium/phosphorous. Dang. I have the yellow dust. Can I put about a tablespoon of it on Lasting Love (french rose)? I also have water soluble evergreen & acid loving plant food (Miracle Gro) 28-10-10.

    Thanks so much!

  • aerbk7b
    5 months ago

    Straw — again — many thanks for the detailed reply and observations. Especially for you observations re tomatoes, which we grow. Definitely going to try that with my leftover Espoma. It’s been cool to moderate with a few warm days — but very dry. Though we’re finally finally getting some good rain, so hopefully my earlier alfalfa meal applications will work ok. I haven’t noticed anything being killed so far (fingers crossed).
    Think my older CPM is grafted, though bought the other 4 own root. Other 3 climbers are own root (Alchymist and Buff Beauty). By SOLUBLE sulfate of potash — you mean the solution you described in other posts, dissolving sul-po-mag with vinegar?

    strawchicago z5 thanked aerbk7b
  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Well, I went out and took all of the alfalfa pellets out of my pots...because most of them don't look as healthy...there was even mold growing in a few pots. Why don't I ever learn about moderation???

    So, Straw...do you think the acid loving fertilizer, the, sulfur or just leave them alone? :) Thanks!!! :) :) :)

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian
  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    5 months ago

    Straw - you wrote above about Espoma Soil Acidifier - "Too much of garden sulfur (has calcium) will result in growth spurt but induces deficiencies in phosphorus, zinc, and boron."

    Guess what I used a couple of months ago - Espoma Soil Acidifier! So that extra calcium could be what caused the Phosphorous, Zinc and Boron deficiencies causing Blind Shoots and Rosettes?


    By the way, I put the David Austin fertilizer on yesterday afternoon and quickly watered it in. My sprinklers went on this morning further watering in the fertilizer. The fertilizer is in the form of little gray pellets. Easy to use scattering 1 oz. around each rose and work into the soil a little bit. The pellets dissolve fairly quickly. I couldn't see any today when I looked. So it is very soluble and easy to use. 2 pros there. We'll see how well it works.


    Thank you for comparing the different fertilizers - I found that interesting.

    strawchicago z5 thanked BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    BirdsLoveRoses: thanks for the good report on David Austin fertilizer dissolved quickly. I put Acid Lilly Miller fertilizer NPK 10-5-4 weeks ago and I still see some not dissolved. Same with chicken manure .. gunked up for at least a month.

    Potassium and phosphorus are known to bind up with soil unless it's in a solution for roots to absorb. I'm testing sulfate of potash mixed with vinegar to fix my alkaline tap-water, and stingy James Galway broke out in 10 buds in 4 hours of sun of morning sun, after I pruned it down to 3 feet.

    Aerbk7b: I never test sul-po-mag so I don't know how well it dissolve in tap-water. The higher the % of sulfur, the easier it is to dissolve. The more sulfur it contains, the more sulfur-nutrient, and darker-green leaves & growth spurt. Gypsum powder at more than 21% sulfur bought from Kelp4Less dissolved fast in my pH 9 alkaline tap water and made leaves dark-green instantly. But potassium sulfate at 18% sulfur cannot dissolve in my tap-water so I mix it with vinegar. Then use 1 TBS of this acidic solution per 2 gallon of tap-water. An excerpt from link below: "Although S exists in many different chemical forms in nature, plants can absorb S only through their root systems in the SO₄²⁻ for sulfate form ... Work in Arkansas has shown that wheat yields were increased from 15 to 44 bushels per acre (bu/A) by the application of just 5 pounds per acre (lbs/A) of S in the potassium sulfate form." https://www.cropnutrition.com/resource-library/sulfate-sulfur-vs-elemental-sulfur-part-i-theres-a-difference

    Examples of sulfate form: calcium sulfate (gypsum), potassium sulfate (sulfate of potash), ammonium sulfate (acidic chemical nitrogen).

    "Elemental S is totally unavailable to plants. Plants simply cannot absorb S⁰ through the root system. Elemental S is inert and water insoluble. when farmers add S⁰ (elemental sulfur) to soil,. In the soil, Soconverts (oxidizes) to the plant-available SO₄²⁻ form. Surface applications of S⁰ are not recommended."

    "Elemental sulfur sources are highly acidifying. Sulfate sources can be either acidifying or neutral in reaction. Ammonium sulfate is an acid-forming material; K-Mag, potassium sulfate and calcium sulfate are neutral materials and don’t affect soil pH."

    My note: gypsum's calcium part stays put on top, but the acid (sulfur) moves down. So when folks take the pH of the top soil, all they get is calcium powder with NO CHANGE in pH, but the acid moves down and destroys root & kills earthworms. The fact that gypsum dissolve easily in my alkaline tap at pH 9 means it's highly acidic, and gypsum is a major ingredient in Espoma and Jobes' Soil Acidifier.

    Carol: Using MG-acid-fertilizer is the fastest way to lower soil pH. Elemental sulfur takes a long time to work, plus surface applications ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.

    "An excellent way to lower the pH of small beds or garden areas is the addition of sphagnum peat. (The pH of Canadian sphagnum peat generally ranges from 3.0 to 4.5.) Sphagnum peat is also a good source of organic matter. On small garden plots, add a one to two inch layer of sphagnum peat and work it into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil before planting. Granular sulfur is the safest, least expensive but slowest acting product to use when attempting to lower your soil's pH."

    https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1994/4-6-1994/ph.html

    From what I read, it takes months for elemental sulfur to lower soil pH. I get faster result with mixing in peatmoss to lower soil pH. Peatmoss pH is below 4, and it takes just a small amount of peatmoss to lower soil pH, plus peatmoss can hold water 10 times its weight, thus enable solubility of added potassium fertilizer.

  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Thank you Teresa!! I was really discouraged when I went out today (Wed.) to look at my roses. I'm going to give the roses just a little bit of Miracle Grow Acid Lovers. I don't want to overdo it. Who me??? Overdo something?? LOL

    :) :) :)


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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Update: Well, I think it was a mistake to put acid lover fertilizer on my roses. I really did it dilutely...but most of my roses' leaves are pretty bad, if not gone. So, I guess, they need alakalinity...so I watered with the hose. There are a few roses that are doing BETTER! These roses are my Austins. They're much better than they usually are this time of year. There are also roses that do well for me no matter what....Night Owl, Jacques Cartier, Memorial Day. The rest are not doing well. Except for my bareroot roses...which I haven't fertiized or given alfalfa pellets to. So, that's interesting about the Austins. My Charles Darwin had been wimpy all last year...it's doing great now....so they really do like high acidity.


    So the learning from this is that the alfalfa pellets were acidic. I put about 2 cups of alfalfa pellets early in April...and another 2 cups in early May. That was too much. I tend to overdo things....I have to stop that. :) :)


    This is a learning thread...so this is good. :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: Yes, Austin roses like acidity if they are 1st-year cluster-own-root. But once Austins are in 3rd year and beyond, their roots become chunky & woody like French roses and OLDER own-root Austins prefer more alkaline. Multiflora-rootstock is a cluster-root and can take acidity better than Dr.Huey (chunky and woody).

    Thank you for your feed back on acidity from organic matter. For my alkaline-tap water at pH 9, it helps to have acidic topping like alfalfa meal or peat moss to neutralize tap-water.

    I read the ingredients on my bags of lime: The white pelletized lime (coated with calcium) has zero magnesium but with 89% calcium. I put some on my lawn, and they HAVE NOT DISSOLVED after 2 months !!

    The Garden Lime is a beige-dust, and it has 22% calcium and 12% magnesium. That works better for the dry & acidic tomato bed where I dumped tons of acidic grass clippings (even more acidic than peat moss at pH 4). Calcium is alkaline at pH 9 when dissolved, and magnesium is also alkaline plus magnesium "glue" soil together for more moisture retention. Magnesium works together with potassium to create the "glossy leaves".

    My lawn becomes acidic since I put tons of lawn fertilizer (high in nitrogen ) for the past 20 years. Grass likes it alkaline, and below was how my lawn looked like back in 2011 when our soil pH was near 8 with rock-hard clay. Grass had thicker blades & deep green & lush:


    Below was how my roses looked like back in 2012 with rock-hard clay (pH near 8). They were always healthy topped with alfalfa meal (pH 5.8) and horse manure (pH 8). These roses were in partial shade with only 4 hrs. of sun. (orange-pink is Christopher Marlowe), orange is Pat Austin. They were always HEALTHY, zero blackspots even in late fall.


    My worst year (wimpy & pale roses) were when I topped with tons of acidic grass clippings, and they got worst during fall rain at pH 4.5 here. The worst blackspots were when I tested bagged cow manure, plus putting composted manure (high phosphorus in the planting hole), plus we had tons of acidic rain that released phosphorus.

    This year I reversed the acidity with garden-lime & biochar at pH 8, plus we have MUCH LESS rain, and I'm watering with my pH 9 tap-water (fixed with sulfate of potash &vinegar). I notice a DRASTIC IMPROVEMENT in my roses after I raise the pH to alkaline. Will take some pics. today and start a new thread entitled:

    "Changes in your garden and the results on your plants?"

  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Straw - yes, your grass looks wonderfully green in your photos!


    With a pH of 5.8...no wonder my roses weren't doing well when I put FOUR cups of alfalfa pellets on each rose over two months. Moderation, Carol!!! I need a garden sign that says that. LOL

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    5 months ago

    Thanks again for all the info, straw.

    If grass clippings made your acidic soil too acidic, I am wondering if I should try grass clippings worked into the top of my alkaline soil to bring it down more toward neutral? Free vs. expensive Alfala Meal!

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Yes to grass clippings to lower pH for clay soil. Clay is fine particle and it needs chunky & large particle like grass clippings. In contrast, sand is larger particle and it needs fine particle like peat moss (pH 4) for better moisture plus clump soil together, plus lowering pH.

    I tested mixing in peat moss versus grass-clippings, and grass-clippings is better in lowering pH plus supply nitrogen. Grass-clippings aerate soil & make soil fluffy. Peat moss is too dense. NPK of grass is 4-0.5-2, versus alfalfa meal at 2-1-2. Peat moss has zero nutrients, pH 4, but it holds water 10 times its weight.

    For rock hard clay, one guy reported piling up grass clippings where the clay is big chunky hard-clumps. He kept watering that with his alkaline-tap. The water fermented the grass clippings and produced acid to soften the clay below into fluffy & loamy soil.

    I mix FRESH grass-clippings into my rock-hard clay. After a few rains, the acid broke my clay into fluff, plus more moisture. Decomposed grass clippings on top clump together into "dry & stinky leather" and hard to mix in later.

    Acid Lilly Miller NPK 10-5-4 works for Diane (in Idaho) and for my alkaline clay since its first ingredient is chicken manure (has boron, zinc, copper), also ammonium phosphate (salt index of 20). Ammonium is acidic so it releases phosphorus when dissolved in water. In contrast, Epsoma-tone's phosphorus is from bone meal, which remains a solid unless soil pH is below 7.

    One time I put 2 cups of Holly-Tone into the planting hole of Nahema . and it was really stingy. I also mixed Plant-Tone on the top soil of a young own-root, and the top growth is much slower compared to another own-root fertilized with SOLUBLE MG NPK 24-8-16, plus alfalfa meal mixed on top. Below is 1st-year own-root Princess Charlene de Monaco, I mixed grass clippings & gypsum 7 months in advance to break up rock-hard & alkaline clay. Note the decayed grass clipping on top which I used as mulch:


    Below PCM is on left, and Evelyn is on right. Very firm petals on PCM thanks to plenty of calcium (via gypsum) in the planting hole. PCM lasts 5 days in the vase.


  • slumgullion in southern OR
    5 months ago

    @strawchicago z5, you should compile your knowledge into a book!

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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago

    PcDm is beautiful. Cant wait for mine to arrive.

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Straw - oh my!!! Totally gorgeous!!! :) :)

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Okay...update...a lot of my roses are getting better. But some of the roses have leaves that just turn crispy..I've denuded those...and some have white edges (not powdery mildew). I'm thinking they still need more lime? I put on about 1/2 tsp on my roses awhile ago...week ago? Any thoughts? :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: I would love to see a pic. of that problem. How much rain are you having? To test for pH: grind red cabbage with rain water in a blender, boil briefly, then strain to save the juice. Check the color of that solution (should be pink with rain-water at pH 4.5). Pour red-cabbage juice into empty yogurt cups to mix in with different soil sample. After mixing each soil sample with the juice, it should be clear (pH 7, which means you have enough buffer to offset the acidity of rain and chemical fertilizer). If it's bright pink after mixing in 1 TBS of soil per 1/4 cup of red cabbage juice, then your pot is acidic. If it's blue, then it's too alkaline. Clear to barely pink is perfect for multiflora-rootstock (prefer neutral to slightly acidic pH). Also grind in a blender 1/4 cup of red cabbage with 1/2 cup of your tap water, if the juice turns blue, then your tap water is alkaline. My tap water at pH 9 is very dark blue when boiled with red cabbage.

    Upper leaves that turn crispy = high phosphorus. I saw "sun-burn" brown crisp on upper leaves of tiny own-roots when I dumped a wad of high phosphorus chicken manure. One needs a TINY AMOUNT of phosphorus, as in rose tissue analysis of 1.2 nitrogen, 1 potassium, 1/2 calcium, 1/10 magnesium and 1/10 phosphorus.

    White edges are most likely from zinc deficiency, and too much phosphorus creates zinc deficiency, plus iron deficiency. Below pic. is zinc deficiency in plants:


    I get more damage from high phosphorus than any other fertilizer (except for acidic gypsum). I never kill any roses with lime. If I overdose on lime, leaves turn pale but plants will green up with lots of acidic rain-water or fertilizer with sulfur (ammonium sulfate, calcium sulfate or gypsum, sulfate of potash or Langbeinite). High phosphorus is hard to reverse, since it stunts plant .. plants can't absorb nitrogen and refuse to grow.

    Phosphorus mobility is a 1, it doesn't move down like potassium (3 mobility), or nitrogen (10 mobility) .. so that accumulates in pots, causing burnt & crispy leaves and zinc deficiency.

    Burnt & crispy leaves can also be from too much salt-accumulation of chemical fertilizers. Acidic Gypsum will de-salt the pot & best used with alkaline tap-water.

    Potassium will move down to roots if dissolved in a solution. Potassium is INSOLUBLE if the pH is > than 7, and lime has pH 9. Potassium needs an acid to be in a soluble-form for plants to use.

    That's why I mixed potassium sulfate with gypsum and vinegar to fix my alkaline tap-water. 1 TBS of Lime first, then 1/2 cup alfalfa meal on top plus day-long acidic rain will make soluble calcium for roots to use. Lime only stays gunked up on top and won't move down. Garden lime (22% calcium and 12% magnesium) needs an acid to break it down to become SOLUBLE for roots to absorb.

    Applying lime or gypsum or potassium as GRANULAR fertilizer doesn't work. Lime needs tons of acidic rain to dissolve (16 hrs. rain). Gypsum is more soluble but too acidic, best in a solution. Potassium sulfate doesn't dissolve unless with vinegar. The best result I got was to dissolve gypsum with potassium sulfate with vinegar, and use 1 TBS of that with a gallon of alkaline-tap water. This will supply both SOLUBLE potassium and calcium to treat high-phosphorus problem plus de-salt potting soil.

    Adding organic high-nitrogen fertilizer like blood meal helps since blood meal is high in iron, NPK 12-0-0, and high phosphorus zaps out nitrogen first, then zinc and iron.

    Alfalfa meal pH is 5.8, but as organics decompose it gives off acid. I consider alfalfa meal as acidic as peat moss (pH 4) if alfalfa meal ferments with acidic rain water. An excerpt from below link: "Cornell University developed several soil-less potting mix recipes for commercial growers. One, for foliage plants, calls for a half bushel (4.5 gallons) of peat moss, a quarter bushel of vermiculite, a quarter bushel of perlite, 8 tablespoons of ground dolomite lime, 2 tablespoons of superphosphate, 3 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer, 1 tablespoon of iron sulfate and 1 tablespoon of potassium nitrate."

    https://www.ehow.com/info_12016716_much-dolomite-lime-per-gallon-peat-moss.html

    From Straw: I translate Cornell University's recipe for pots: 4.5 gallons of peatmoss, 2.3 gallons of vermiculite, 2.3 gallons of perlite, 1/2 cup of garden lime (dolomite), 2 TBS of superphosphate, 3 TBS of 10-10-10 fertilizer, 1 TBS iron sulfate and 1 TBS potassium nitrate.

    Note that it takes VERY LITTLE lime, only 1/2 cup to neutralize the acidity of 4.5 gallons of peatmoss at pH 4.

    SFGate link advised 1/4 cup dolomite lime per gallon of peatmoss. See below link:

    https://homeguides.sfgate.com/balance-ph-lime-peat-potting-33867.html

    One gallon has 16 cups, and there are 4 Tablespoons in 1/4 cup. So 1 teaspoon of lime is enough to neutralize 1 cup of alfalfa meal. As to how much lime needed to neutralize acidic rain, I saw about 1/8 cup of whitish calcium leaching out from the bottom of 3-gallon pots after 2+ days of rain.

  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Wow...lots of information here. Thanks, Teresa! I have to assimilate this.

    1. There was very, very little rain that fell on the roses. But there were 4 cups of alfalfa pellets on each rose (dumb!) And then I fertilized (lightly) with high acid fertilizer. So...I'm thinking they need a little bit of lime.


    2. I start my colonoscopy prep Sunday with the procedure late on Monday. So I won't be doing a cabbage test then. But I could try it the next time my husband goes for groceries. I can get him to buy a cabbage. But that may not be for 3 or 4 days.


    3. I can go out with my camera tomorrow (Sunday)...Don will load them up Sunday night.


    4. I doubt it's high phosphorous since I found this:

    Alfalfa pellets provide a 5 to 1 ratio of calcium to phosphorous. Therefore, it is useful in grain rations as a calcium source.


    5. Could be extra salt from the alfalfa pellets??


    6. Okay...so I had found some lime and put it lightly on my roses...but it was a granular form. I was too tired to find my powdered form. So I should look for that.


    7. Plan: I'm going to put on a little bit of powdered lime for each rose that's doing poorly. Thankfully I haven't put any alfalfa pellets on my bareroot roses (22 plants). So they're doing good. :)


    Thanks!!!! You're such a good friend!

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: Good luck on your colonoscopy. My best wishes. The fasting is the worst part, so I'm praying that things go easy for you.

    Alfalfa is very low in salt, see below: " Alfalfa Green contains over 30 micronutrients, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and naturally-occurring plant growth hormones. These nutrients and the addition of organic matter mean each pellet is essentially a tiny multi-vitamin for your soil. Alfalfa Green has a neutral pH of anywhere between 6.2 to 6.6, which helps buffer acidic and/or alkaline soils. The salt content is very low so applying Alfalfa Green to sites with salt concerns does not add any additional salts."

    https://alfalfagreen.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/AG-vs-Compost-vs-Manure.pdf

    Since you don't have much rain, it can be too alkaline and chemical-fertilizer salt can also cause crispy edge:

    "When the soil becomes too alkaline, plants suffer iron, manganese and other mineral deficiencies. Iron deficiency, also called iron chlorosis, turns leaves pale green, yellow or white and leaf edges may look scorched. New leaves are most affected by an iron deficiency."

    https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-add-much-lime-soil-garden-77060.html

  • aerbk7b
    5 months ago

    Straw — any other suggestions for low iron besides blood meal?

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Molasses or sugarcane pressmud is high in iron. Google that in Organic Rose and you'll see. I did many posts on molasses, I quit using it since it attract thrips (they like stinky organics). But it's worth the deep colors if watered in immediately, rather than leaving it out to attract pests.

    Tahir Khan's bouquet below in Pakistan is fertilized with 15% rice hulls, 15% molasses, 20% cow manure. Note how molasses with many trace elements turn his Sweet Mademoiselle into the most gorgeous bi-color bloom (light pink with red fringes). He grows 100+ roses in pots.


    That fabulous color comes from his soil plus molasses (sugarcane pressmud). From the web "Rice husk ash is one of the most silica rich raw materials containing about 90-98% silica." From below link, Sugarcane Pressmud or molasses has 36% iron, 68% magnesium, 73% manganese, 31% potassium, 21% calcium, 3% zinc, 4% phosphorus.

    I agree with his reducing cow manure, too high in phosphorus (phosphorus shifts blooms to red zone). https://www.slideshare.net/deepakrai26/pressmud

  • aerbk7b
    5 months ago

    Thanks, Straw. Though not sure molasses wouldn’t also attract rats, a city garden problem....

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Teresa - I find that drinking that HORRIBLE colyte is the worst. I practically cry drinking it. I found that drinking it at room temperature and drinking lemonade before and after helped. I had to make sure my lips were coated with lemonade to make sure I couldn't taste the colyte. Shudder.

    Wow! He did a really good job....that bouquet is beautiful!! We are all so lucky to have a passion for something that brings so many rewards with it. :)

    Here are the pictures I took a few days ago. This is Lasting Love (french rose, Adams). You can see the pink and also the white in this picture.


    Below is Tahitian Sunset (Zary rose)


    Below is Parade Day (Bedard rose)


    Below is Portrait (Meyer). What I'm trying to show here is the withering of the leaves. I keep crunching off the drying new leaves that are trying to emerge.


    Same rose



    Below is Zaide. Sigh. My canes seem to get this a lot. I'm always cutting back/off canes.



    Chartreuse de Parme (Delbard, France) Another shot at the withering of the leaves. They then turn crispy, I think.


    Below is uber-healthy Rosa Hugonis (I think...hasn't bloomed yet). It's in a big concrete planter under the front window.



    The roses have started to look a little better. Although I did some more crunching off new growth from Sceptr'd Isle.

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Okay...so this is what I did.

    1. 2 cups alfalfa pellets on soil in April.

    2. 2 cups alfalfa pellets in May. This was the mistake. I should not have done this.

    3. Added Miracle Gro (very diluted) for acid loving plants, thinking that alfalfa was alkaline. I think this was a mistake. Maybe this added the salt??

    4. Added Lime...about 1/4 cup/plant. I think that the roses are getting better. I'm crossing my fingers. Although I'm still cutting off canes (like on Zaide). Frustrating.

    5. Water and let them adjust.

    Thoughts? :)

    You were thinking iron deficiency. Hmmm...I'm kind of afraid to do anything else. I do have iron...but I think I'll give them a week to see if they're doing any better.


    Thanks for looking at my pictures. :)


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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: After looking at your pics, I'm 100% sure that it's NOT iron deficiency. The pic. of dry & crispy & brown edges on Chartreuse de Parme looks like fertilizer and salt burn. It looks like what I did decades ago when I mixed salty fresh horse manure into the planting hole. Healthy roses got brown burns on the edges of leaves. I spent 2 hours to replace the soil & buying 10 bags of top-soil. I never forget that "salty" mistake.

    I have the best results in roses with ALFALFA MEAL (with no additives). But I have the worst results with ALFALFA PELLETS (with many additives such as molasses and salt).

    When I told the guy at the feed store that I want alfalfa for my roses, he told me, "don't get the pellets for rabbits, it has sugar and salt". So I got the alfalfa meal with zero additives.

    The next year I wanted pellets since the meal is too dusty, and I spent time googling to find ONLY ONE product that doesn't have added salt & sugar, it's Standlee Alfalfa pellets. I had to special order from the feed store, but it's chunky & large pockets of acidity that killed 2 own-roots when I mixed that into the planting hole.

    I went back to alfalfa meal, it blends into the soil so it doesn't create pockets of acidity. See below link of ingredients in alfalfa pellets, it has molasses added:

    https://www.dengie.com/news-articles/feed-advice/feeding-alfalfa-to-rabbits/

    Salt-burn produces crispy & brown edges on leaves. I did that when I dumped too much salty chicken-manure on tiny band size Firefighter, I had to scrape off the top soil. Molasses is high in iron and it's often added to alfalfa pellets. Molasses has 36% iron. Cheap molasses for animal feed often contain salt.

    Miracle-Gro for Acid-plant has NPK of 30-10-10, with Nitrogen 30% (3% Ammoniacal Nitrogen/27.0% Urea Nitrogen) Phoshate 10% Potash 10%. The 27% urea is what kills plants, and many websites warn people do not use this cheap chemical nitrogen. Urea has high salt index of 74.4. This fertilizer also has potassium chloride with super-high salt index of 116.2.

    https://www.domyown.com/msds/Miracid.pdf

    I tested MG-for acid fertilizer back in 2011, and roses got brown-burns on leaves from the salt. It's very high in nitrogen at 30, and nitrogen-fertilizer is highest in salt. So I threw the fertilizer on a patch of grass, and it burnt the grass. Will check on the white/yellow edges on your leaves later.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    I checked on Carol's pic. of white/yellow edges on roses, and stumbled on an excellent website with pics. that identify nutrient def. in plants, see below:

    https://www.nparks.gov.sg/nparksbuzz/oct-issue-2020/gardening/identifying-nutrient-deficiency-in-plants

    According to Missouri educational website, fertilizer burn can produce lighter-color edges: "Too much fertilizer can result in salt burn symptoms. These symptoms include marginal browning or necrosis of leaves, separated from green leaf tissue by a slender yellow halo. The symptom begins at the tip and proceeds to the base of the leaf along the edges."

    https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2011/6/Diagnosing-Nutrient-Deficiencies/

    From above link what I see often in high rain spring in my garden is calcium deficiency. Rain leaches out calcium first. "Light green color on uneven chlorosis of young leaves. Brown or black scorching of new leaf tips and die-back of growing points. Growing points of stems and roots cease to develop. Poor root growth and roots short and thickened."

    Another sign of calcium def. is small leaves with yellowish/brown spots, from below link (worth reading):

    https://drecampbell.com/plant-nutrient-deficiencies-how-fix-naturally/

    CONCLUSION: many sites advised to flush the soil to get rid of salt-build-up, but doing so will deplete calcium. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is used to de-salt saline soil. If you don't have much acidic rain and want to get rid of the salt in pots, then watering with 2 TBS of acidic gypsum dissolved in 1 gallon of water will flush out the salt.

    If you have lots of acidic rain, alkaline dolomite lime (22% calcium and 12% magnesium) is used to flush out the salt.

    "The researchers were able to show that within the first 30 days, gypsum application decreased salt concentration down to 60 centimetres by about 50pc."

    https://www.farmweekly.com.au/story/7218070/gypsum-boosts-barley-on-saline-soils/

    "Applying gypsum helps dislodge the sodium in sodic clay soils and salt in saline soils and helps move these elements below the root zone away from your grass. Gypsum works by essentially displacing (in saline soil) the salt or replacing (in sodic soil) the sodium in the soil with calcium."

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Check on the white/yellow edge on leaves: it's potassium deficiency induced by too much nitrogen. Excerpt from below link: "Nitrogen is the mineral that your plant uses the most, but excess nitrogen can provoke various deficiencies in the future such as potassium and calcium deficiencies."

    https://www.growbarato.net/blog/en/deficiencies-due-to-excess-nutrients/

    The above link is worth reading about excesses: Too much nitrogen causes potassium and calcium deficiencies. Too much potassium causes nitrogen & calcium & magnesium deficiencies. Too much phosphorus and plants can't absorb zinc, iron, and copper. Too much calcium create boron, magnesium and phosphorus deficiencies. Too much magnesium (as in my sticky clay) cause both calcium and potassium not absorbed. Too much iron causes manganese not absorbed. Too much salt causes calcium, potassium, and magnesium deficiencies.

    MG-Acid fertilizer at NPK 30-10-10 is too high in nitrogen & too much salt. Some pics. from the web of potassium deficiency (induced by too much salty nitrogen):



  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    The n parks link is outstanding. Thanks. I often see that calcium deficiency in spring also on my roses and other plants in ground and with potted tomatoes which led to blossom end rot.

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  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Straw - my pellets are from a cattle feed store. I don't think they added salt. But I could be wrong. But, I did add 4 cups (d'oh!) to each pot. I bought the acid lovers fertilizer to help my roses in the nonrainy periods. So I shouldn't use it? Okay. I won't. :) From what you're saying that sounds like the culprit for the "burnt" new growth.

    Hmmmm...my brain doesn't feel like it's working very well right now. I feel a bit light headed. :) But what really helps is how you always wrap things up so I can understand them in your conclusion. :)

    So I will use the gypsum diluted in the water. Thanks for making that easy to understand. :) However,...our weather is terrible right now...and the roses are staying in the garage (with the lights on in the day) until Saturday. Should I go out and add the gypsum now while they're in the garage...or should I wait until Saturday? Oh, and gypsum will add the calcium that is missing!

    Thanks, Teresa!! I'm going to read this through again and make some notes. :) :)

    Oh, one more thought. I'm just going to add the gypsum to the roses that are showing symptoms...the others I'll leave alone. Do you agree? :)

    Thanks so much for doing research for me!! I have a hard time figuring this out (as you know). :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Carol: HOLD-OFF on the acidic gypsum. I check your pics. again, it looks like too acidic. I killed 2 own-root roses when I mix alfalfa pellets (no salt) into potting soil. It doesn't decompose fast like alfalfa meal. Since you put 4 cups of alfalfa pellets plus ACID-fertilizer (Miracid), THAT'S TOO ACIDIC. I remember young shoots turned crispy-brown the minute I planted in potting soil mixed with alfalfa pellets. See below pic. of geranium's leaves turn crispy-brown with acid.



    See below the effect of acid-rain on plants: wilted & with yellow edge of potassium deficiency. When the pH is below 5, the major nutrients are not available such as nitrogen (can't grow new leaves), potassium deficiency (yellow edge). Gypsum is acidic and it will make it worse. What you did was right: top with lime. Remember that 2 TBS of lime per 1 foot surface pot is enough to raise the pH by 1 point. I would scrape-off the acidic gunk of alfalfa pellets on top.

    The potassium deficiency (yellow/white edge) is the pointer for too acidic. Too acidic can be mistaken for salt-burn.


  • rosecanadian
    5 months ago

    Thanks, Teresa! I had already scraped off the alfalfa pellets. Thank goodness.

    I wasn't thinking ver well...or I would have said what you just said...that I think I had made it too acidic. :) :) So, since I already put lime on (1/4 cup/plant)...I think I'll just keep watering without fertilizing. Really interesting how the acidity made such a difference.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Found the composition of alfalfa in the below site:

    Crude Protein 16-17% Crude Fiber2-4%

    Nitrogen 2.5%

    Phosphate 0.5%

    Potash 2.2%

    Sulfur 0.25%

    Calcium 1%

    https://norganics.com/index-12/index-11/fertilizers/alfalfa-meal/

    *** CONCLUSION: it has high nitrogen, plus the 1% alkaline calcium offsets the acidity of 0.25% sulfur. The high protein at 17% is fertilizer itself. The best Organic fertilizer I tested has meat-meal in it.

    I'm pretty sure that the molasses in alfalfa pellets is responsible for making the soil too acidic. A nursery recommends pouring a can of coke into the soil to acidify it. Sugar helps to ferment, and fermentation UP the acid given off by decomposing organics.

  • rosecanadian
    4 months ago

    Get out!!! LOL A can of coke?? :) :)

    Thanks, Straw for always having my back. :)

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  • ann beck 8a ruralish WA
    2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Apparently a can of Coke will really speed up a slow compost pile too. Better get a 6 pack! LOL

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  • rosecanadian
    2 months ago

    Pretty neat!

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Carol: Khalid in Pakistan grows Augusta Luise since 2014 & he posted lots of pics. in Organic rose forum. It blooms well for him at 115 F, he mentioned that it likes high-calcium fluffy soil & alkaline pH. He fertilized it with wood ash & chicken manure in a pot with loamy and fluffy soil.

    Leaves of Augusta Luise is glossy dark green, but smaller in size. Glossy dark green means it prefers alkaline pH, and smaller leaves mean it likes fluffier soil.

    For Augusta Luise: SKIP GARDEN LIME (22% calcium and 12% magnesium). Pelletized lime without magnesium is a better choice.

    Garden Lime has 12% magnesium which is "sticky glue" and makes my clay dense (my black-gumbo clay was tested exceedingly high in magnesium, and multiflora-rootstock hates my clay). Garden lime makes "concrete" out of any soil.

    We have 3 days of rain & high humidity and the bag of Garden Lime dust (inside 2 plastic bags) turned into sticky-putty .. that would kill any cluster-root like it killed Felicia.

    The pale and dull leaves own-roots absolutely hate Garden Lime. The tiny-leaves own-roots also hate Garden Lime. These prefer gypsum (fast calcium released by its 18% sulfur). Note below pale & small leaves of St. Cecilia in my dense high magnesium clay:

    Below is with acidic rain:


    Below same St. Cecilia, without sulfur in acidic rain (gypsum and sulfate of potash also has 18% to 21% sulfur). Note the pale leaves in high magnesium clay get worse WITHOUT rain:


    The glossy & dark-green & large leaves can handle Garden lime and my thick & dense clay better, such as Betty White:


  • rosecanadian
    27 days ago

    Wow...lots of great info here!! Thank you!! I have lots of powdered garden lime. Darn. I can still use it on large glossy dark green leaves...like some of my French roses and other ones. Would it be better to forget about the powdered lime and just use the pelletized lime?

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Yes, I would skip powder-lime (Garden lime with 12% magnesium) since Multiflora-rootstock is a cluster root and it hates dense soil hardened by the "magnesium-glue" in Garden Lime. I tested Garden Lime on impatients (annual flower) with cluster roots and a bunch of them died in hot & dry.

    My rock-hard clay (when dry) which turn sticky mud (when wet) was tested exceeding high in magnesium, and multiflora-rootstock shrank in my clay.

    Felicia (with Trier as multiflora-parent), died since I topped the pot with Garden Lime to offset acidic rain. I should had mixed gypsum in that pot months in advance for FAST DRAINAGE & fluffier soil. Felicia prefers fast-draining & fluffy soil and doesn't like dense & soaking wet potting soil. The 12% magnesium in Garden Lime makes soil sticky & wet like mud during rain, but rock-hard during hot & dry and cluster-roots HATE THAT.

    Multiflora-rootstock is a cluster root and doesn't produce enough acid to make calcium soluble, thus best with gypsum (soluble calcium).

  • rosecanadian
    27 days ago

    Okay, I'll skip the powdered lime. Do you have any idea on what I can use 3 bags of powdered lime on? LOL So I'll buy pelletized lime for the roses that love high pH and gypsum (small amounts) for those that like lower pH.

    Thank you!! :) :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    25 days ago

    Carol: NO NEED to buy pelletized lime (100% calcium and zero magnesium, at pH 9) since your roses are grafted on multiflora-rootstock (DISLIKE ALKALINE PH). Neutral to slightly acidic is best for multiflora-rootstock and gypsum is perfect for multiflora-rootstock.

    Keep the powder Garden lime (22% calcium and 12% magnesium), you still need that for GLOSSY & DARK GREEN leaves which need a higher % of potassium, and potassium can't work unless there's magnesium for moisture retention.

    Gypsum is useful to mix in soil MONTHS IN ADVANCE to convert compact soil into fluffy soil. Multiflora-rootstock is a cluster-root and prefers airy & fluffy soil. Multiflora-rootstock is sensitive to salt, and gypsum (mixed into old potting soil) helps to de-salt the accumulated salt from chemical fertilizers.

    Garden Lime is useful to top GLOSSY & SHINY roses prior to a heavy rain. The stickiness of the 12% magnesium in Garden lime prevents potassium from leaching out. GLOSSY & SHINY leaves are potassium plus water-hogs.

    Garden Lime can UP the pH fast, useful for neutralizing tons of acidic rain. Multiflora-rootstock is cluster-root and is sensitive to extreme acidity. Felicia (with multiflora-Trier as its parent) died in a pot during tons of rain in July. I used pelletized lime but that could not neutralize the acidic rain fast like Garden Lime powder.

    Own-root Bolero has cluster-root, very much like Multiflora-rootstock and that died when I moved it, and mixed in alfalfa meal plus salty Plant-Tone .. plus tons of rain.

  • rosecanadian
    23 days ago

    Excellent, Straw!!! You have spent countless hours researching/doing experiments and then sharing your knowledge!!!!!! I SOOOO appreciate you!! :) :)

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  • ann beck 8a ruralish WA
    7 days ago

    I second that!!!


    You could try the extra lime on your lawn weeds and see if they die. =)

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  • rosecanadian
    5 days ago

    Ann - I could!! Or on the weeds in the rocks. :)

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