The Q&A Archives: Making a flowerbed for roses

Question: Hello,
I ordered 12 roses (hybryd teas and sub-zero roses) from a catalog and now I have to make a flowerbed for them. What is the ideal mixture for the soil? Should I mix in the moss, cow's manure ? And if yes, in what proportions? What else I might need? Thanks!

Answer: Roses do well in an evenly moist yet well drained soil. Although we think of them as also needing a rich soil, in my experience it is the texture that is more important. Ideally you would run some basic soil tests to see what you might need to do to amend your soil and work from the test results. Generally though you would need to loosen the soil down about a foot and work in a generous amount -- say six inches -- of organic matter such as well rotted leaves, good quality compost, possibly milled spagnum peat moss (dampen it first), and so on. If you have a clay based soil you would also add some coarse builders' type sand (not the finer beach sand or play sand) to help improve drainage. By the time you have done all that you will have created a slightly raised bed which is great -- roses need good drainage and a slight increase in height helps with that. You may also need to add and mix in some lime to raise the pH if your soil is naturally very acidic, but the only way to check that is by testing it. Next you would smooth and level the bed and top it with several inches of organic mulch to help keep down weeds, reduce watering needs, and help continue adding organic matter to the soil slowly over time as it breaks down. If you can do this a couple of weeks (at least) before planting that will allow the soil to settle a bit and then you can double check that it is fairly level before planting. Your roses will probably come with additional planting instructions. I hope this helps.

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