Roses can grow very well in clay soil that has been amended with plenty of organic material. Clay soil contains a high concentration of minerals and nutrients that will benefit roses. In heavy clay, the addition of mulch is imperative to ease soil compaction and to increase draining so that the rose\u2019s roots don\u2019t become waterlogged. \n\n\n\nPotential Problems for Roses in Clay Soil\n\n\n\nThe good news is that clay soil is very fertile and contains\nmore calcium, potassium and magnesium then other soil types, all of which are\nimportant nutrients for growing healthy, strong roses that are resistant to\ndisease and pest damage. \n\n\n\nHowever there are a few drawbacks to clay soil that you need\nto be aware of before planting roses\u2026\n\n\n\nThe main drawback of clay soil is that it is less porous then most other soils which will slow water drainage in your garden. This can lead to puddling and water logged areas, for prolonged periods, particularly after heavy rainfall.\n\n\n\nRoses do require a lot of water, however they need well draining soil as the roots are susceptible to root rot when in saturated soil which will kill the plant.\n\n\n\nClay is also susceptible to compaction if you walk on the beds frequently to do the weeding or till the area with a rotavator. This can exacerbate drainage problems and make it difficult for the roots of your rose to penetrate the soil for stability and to access water and nutrients.\n\n\n\nWhilst clay soils can be acidic they do more often tend to be alkaline. It is always a good idea to check the pH of your soil with an inexpensive soil testing kit from amazon before you spend your money on expensive plants that may require different conditions. \n\n\n\nThe way to overcome these problems is by amending your soil\nto achieve the correct texture, pH, drainage and the nutrients that will ensure\nyour rose has the best blooms possible.\n\n\n\nHow to Amend Clay\nSoil before Planting Roses \n\n\n\nIf the area where you are intending on planting your rose is\nnoticeably slow draining then I always recommend that you dig the hole ready\nfor your new rose significantly deeper and wider then the root ball of the\nrose, ideally about 2-3 three times the volume.\n\n\n\nOnce your hole is dug to the appropriate size you need to\nsurround the roots of your new rose with organic material. Leaf mould, well\nrotted horse manure or compost made from grass clippings, leaves and kitchen\nscraps is perfect.\n\n\n\nThe organic material will continue to break down into the\nsoil and loosen the texture of the surrounding clay. This will make the soil\nmore porous and allow water to reach the roots and the excess water can drain\naway so the roots don\u2019t have to sit in stagnant water. \n\n\n\nOrganic material will absorb water so that the roots can draw upon that water when it needs to in drier weather but it will also develop a structure that lets excess water drain away.\n\n\n\nIn particularly heavy clay I do recommend adding sand or grit to your compost mix with about 1 third sand to 2 thirds compost. It is important to mix the sand or grit into the compost mix before planting so that it is evenly distributed and forms the perfect structure for improve drainage.\n\n\n\nOnce you have your rose positioned in the hole, fill it in with more organic material and your mix of sand and add a surface mulch of 2-3 inches around the base of your rose. Make sue that the mulch is not in contact with the rose wood as prolonged exposure to moisture can rot the wood, so it\u2019s best to give the mulch a 2 inch berth around the main rose cane.\n\n\n\nAdding all this organic material will reinvigorate the\nbeneficial ecosystem of the soil. Microbes, yeast, fungus and earthworms all\nwork to break down organic material so that the nutrients are available for the\nrose to absorb. \n\n\n\nEarthworms in particular will help integrate the organic material into the clay soil and chelate the soil into a more fertile form to benefit the rose. Earthworms also create channels in the soil which promotes the infiltration of water, air and creates space for roots to grow in the heavy clay soil.\n\n\n\nAnother incentive to continually top up your rose bed with surface mulch is that it will counteract alkaline soils. Compost tends to be pH neutral, if not slightly acidic. Roses love a soil pH in the range of 6 (slightly acidic) to 7 (neutral). Again it is a good idea to test the pH of the soil in your rose bed as an alkaline soil will kill roses.\n\n\n\nI recommend applying organic mulch (usually leaf mould or compost) to rose beds with clay soil\u2026\n\n\n\nOnce at the start of the season for a additional nutrients to promote growth.Again in the height of summer when the sun is beating down on the soil. Clay soils have a tendency to dry up and bake hard to form a less permeable texture. Add your mulch during the summer when the sun is at its strongest to help water infiltrate and reach your rose\u2019s roots where it is needed, rather then water running off the surface.It is always a good idea to pile on the mulch for a third time in the winter as this will insulate the roots from the worst of the winter cold and give your rose a head start when the weather warms up again in the following spring.\n\n\n\nThere is no need to dig the mulch or compost into the ground as this will unnecessarily disturb the soil\u2019s ecosystem and potentially cause damage to the roots. The earthworms will pull down organic material into the ground for feeding, so put down the spade and let them do the digging for you! \n\n\n\nTop tip: Whilst wood ash, contains a good concentration of potash (which promotes health growth and increases resistance to disease), you do need to be careful not to add too much a once. Wood ash is usually slightly alkaline, so too much will be detrimental to your rose. Scatter approximately on cup of wood ash around the base of your rose early in the growing season and water in. Potash is water soluble so the nutrient will wash into the soil and reach the roots quickly.\n\n\n\nRoses for Clay Soil\n\n\n\nAs long as you have amended your soil with organic matter and ensured that rainfall can infiltrate without forming puddles on the surface then you will be able to grow any rose variety you like thanks to clay soils favourable natural fertility. \n\n\n\nJust be aware that all roses need to be in a spot with about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and they prefer morning sun.\n\n\n\nMy personal favourite for clay soils is \u2018Rosa Peace\u2019. This is a beautiful rose with cream colour central petals that fade out to an elegant crimson pink.\n\n\n\nRosa peace is a hardy,\nrelatively disease resistant rose with a strong bloom, and a sweet fragrance\nthat will grow well in clay soils.\n\n\n\nThe best time of year to plant a new rose is in the late autumn when the plant is dormant put you can plant a rose successfully at anytime of year provided you have the right conditions.\n\n\n\nWatering Roses in Clay\nSoil\n\n\n\nClay soils are naturally more forgiving when it comes to watering because of their ability to hold water. If there is more then an inch of rain in the week and the soil is moist then you won\u2019t need to water your rose bushes so as to avoid the soil becoming water logged.\n\n\n\nTo check how much rainfall there is in the space of 7 days I recommend that you buy an inexpensive rain gauge to keep track of the weather, so you can water your rose accordingly.\n\n\n\nThere is also less of a need to regularly water roses that are in humid climates due to the lower rate of evaporation from the soil and lower rate of transpiration from the leaves.\n\n\n\nAs discussed, strong sunshine can bake clay soils to the\npoint where water will simply run off them and not reach the roots of your\nrose. If the soil is dry and hard to the touch, add some compost around the\nbase of the rose and then give it a long, slow soak. \n\n\n\nThe compost will retain the water and encourage it to soak into the soil rather then running off and down into cracks.\n\n\n\nIn persistently dry weather, it is best practice to give your rose one good soak per week with plenty of water rather then watering a little bit everyday.\n\n\n\nBear in mind that in the hottest weather, roses go into a state of semi-dormancy in order to conserve resources where growth slows and less blooms are produced. This is perfectly normal and can happen in any rose garden. Roses will perk back up again when the weather cools.\n\n\n\nFertilizer for Roses in clay soil\n\n\n\nFertilzing roses in clay soil is no different to fertilizing roses in any other soil.\n\n\n\nIf you choose to fertilize your roses organically then I recommend alternating between fish emulsion, bone meal and alfalfa. Roses (like humans) do best with a balanced diet so by switching through these three fertilizes your roses receives the right variety of nutrients that it needs to thrive.\n\n\n\nApply fertilizer once per month (starting in April, just before the leave have fully opened) throughout the spring and summer and do no apply any more after August the 15th.\n\n\n\nFertilizing promotes new soft growth which will not have time to mature and harden before winter if you apply fertilizer too late. Your rose needs time to prepare for its phase of winter dormancy and any new, late growth will be damaged by frost so make sure you stick to your schedule.\n\n\n\nAlternatively you can apply a pre-made rose formula. These products tend to come in granule form and all you need to do is scatter it around the base of your rose once in the spring before the flowers emerge and again in the height of the summer. \n\n\n\nThis is a great low maintenance option and miracle grow rose formula contains all the right nutrients at the right concentration, that your rose needs to produce blooms and thrive.\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nClay soils tend to be good for growing roses as they are naturally fertile and are less likely to dry out. However drainage of excess water can be a problem as clay is not naturally very porous.\n\n\n\nThe regular addition of mulch and soil amendments helps to improve the structure of clay soils so that the roots can penetrate easier and water can excess drain away from the roots. \n\n\n\nYou need to be careful in the summer as clay has a propensity to bake hard which makes it difficult for water to infiltrate the soil and reach the roots. Mulch comprised of leaf mould or compost is the best material to help soften the surface of the soil and encourage the water to drain down and reach the roots.