A great compost for roses can be the difference between a beautiful bloom and one that looks just about average. Rose plants are rather sensitive to subtle changes in soil conditions and the right compost added at the right time can really transform the health of rose plants and their blooms. In this post, we shall give you several tips on how to choose the best compost for roses that grow in the UK.
The Best Compost for Roses should maintain soil pH between 6 and 6.5
Roses love soil that is very slightly acidic. So, one of the most important things you can do to choose the right compost for your rose plants is to find out if your compost will keep your soil in the 6 to 6.5 pH range. Well matured compost usually ranges between 6 and 8 ph. Your compost should not make the soil too alkaline as well.
The easiest way to figure out what kind of compost you need is to first check your soil’s pH level. Marketplaces like Amazon UK or your local nursery will have very inexpensive devices that will give you a reading on what your soil’s pH level is. Based on the reading you get, you can choose a compost that will make your soil more acidic, less acidic or simply maintain an already perfect pH level. There are also ways to make your compost less acidic or more acidic, as discussed below.
How to make rose compost more acidic?
One of the easiest ways to make your rose compost more acidic is by adding fruit scraps. The core of apples, peelings of other fruits and even rotting fruit all work well to raise acidity. Pine needles work very well as well. Ensure that you mix in the compost well, turning it over with a shovel. Compost is only good when it is evenly distributed with the soil.
If you are looking to make your rose compost more acidic, you must avoid adding leaves or leaf trimmings because they increase alkalinity. You must also avoid adding lime.
How to make rose compost more alkaline?
Adding lime or dolomite lime are the easiest ways to make your roses more alkaline. Ingredients that contain calcium carbonate will also make your compost less acidic and more alkaline in nature. Such ingredients include bone meal and ground up eggshells or clamshells.
Compost Types that are best for Rose Plants
Many types of compost work well for rose plants. But, you must make sure that the compost is mature, preferably with an age of at least 2 years. Anything fresher raises the risk of the compost burning the root of your rose plants, especially if it is manure.
The following types of compost work well for roses
- Any good quality garden compost (check pH levels as described above)
- Composted bark or straw
- 2+ year manure from local farms
When to add compost to roses?
Ideally, you want to add compost to your rose plants in about the middle of April. But it is also very important that you follow this up with a second composting after the first bloom. First bloom of roses in the UK usually happens around June. Then, about 8 weeks later, the rose plants are ready for another round of compost. Depending on where you live in the UK, your rose plant might need year-round composting, except during winter and the months leading up to winter. Talk to other gardeners in your area to find out more about the best composting frequency.
It is also very important that you know when not to mulch or compost your rose plants. It is absolutely imperative that you stop mulching your rose plants about two months before the date of the first frost. Doing so will prevent your rose plants from growing too much in cold freezing temperatures, where they will suffer and struggle to maintain optimal health.
Mushroom Compost for Roses
You should not use mushroom compost for roses if your rose plants are young and small. This is because mushrooms have high levels of soluble salts that can hamper seed germination. They also adversely affect sensitive plants, which roses are when they are rather young.
Ericaceous Compost for Roses
This is a good choice of rose compost if your soil is alkaline in nature, and if you are looking to make it slightly acidic soil. As mentioned earlier, slightly acidic soil is what is best conducive for rose plants.
Best compost for potted rose plants
Adding compost to potted rose plants is quite tricky. It can result in either result in the soil drying out too quickly or retaining too much water, either of which are bad for your rose plant.
The safest way to add compost to potted rose plants is to mix potting compost and any good quality garden compost in equal ratios, to then use it to compost the pot. Please also read this guide we wrote about how to grow roses indoors, if your potted rose plants are indoors.
How to tell if your rose compost is working well?
The easiest ways to tell if you are composting your rose plants well is to look for large and healthy blooms. Insufficient composting will result in poor flower yield and also less than optimal rose plant health and growth. Over-composting on the other hand will substantially increase leaf growth but hamper rose bloom. So, if you notice voluminous leaves but a less than stellar bloom from your rose patch, you know that you have to dial it back on the composting!
Hope you learned a lot about choosing a rose compost. You can also read these general tips and tricks to grow your rose plants better.