Soil For Roses

The soil is considered the area about 18 inches around and 18 inches deep around the plant in question. This is the dirt you need to work with and be aware of.

Just like the climate, the composition of your garden earth while be key in understanding what types of plans will grow there. Clay, sandy, organic and rocky are all types that you might encounter in different areas of the country. Clay tends to hold water much like a clay pot and thus may give you issues with watering. Sandy is the opposite, with too much drainage. Rocky or desert types are tough to work with, as there usually isn’t enough organic “meat” in the soil for the plant roots to hold onto. Pure organic is usually the best shape but even then may need to be adjusted for the PH. See below on the adjustments for that. An ideal mixture would be about half organic with the rest a mix of clay, sand, and some stones.

PH Levels

You hear the term “PH” being bandied around frequently, when it comes to a discussion of acid levels in your soil. But how many people actually know what PH stands for? For those that took Chemistry at school, they will know the answer is “Potential Hydrogen”.

soil PH chart

Once of the key indicators that can show if an area is good for rose gardening is the PH. With all of these types, its good if you can get an idea of the PH from a local grower or, even better, get a sample from your own garden.This is a chemical factor that shows how acidic your dirt is. Its a scale from 1-14, with lower numbers being more acidic Perfectly balanced is 7.0; water is usually right around 7.0 depending on any impurities or chemicals in it. Most roses need a pH level of 6.5 to grow well. Adding organic matter like mulch will generally lower the PH. If you are in one of the rare areas where you have alkaline levels, you can add limestone or calcium carbonate to help out. In most cases, though, you will want to pile on the organic stuff (mulch, compost, manure, etc…) It’s hard to have too much.


In some cases you may need to use a fertilizer. Sometimes that is because certain elements are missing in the soil, but more frequently it is as a boost for hungry plants during flowering. We have a page to help you choose the right fertilizer for roses.