The Q&A Archives: planting new in flower bed

Question: Recently I planted two rose plants in the flower bed abd they look as if they are dead. This is first time I am planting in the bed. When I dig the beg, beyond the mulch, I see clay like soil and I think that may have caused the plants to die. What is the proper procedue to plant in this type of beds? Also can I do something to bring back life in the plants?

Answer: Some plants can adjust to growing in clay soils but others need a little help. You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter on an annual basis. Start by spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the planting bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig or till this organic matter into the soil - 8-10 inches deep. Plant your annuals or perennials and mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular garden. Your roses may survive but if they don't improve over the summer you may want to dig this fall and amend the soil as detailed above, and then replant them in the freshly amended soil. Best wishes with your garden beds.

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