Will Roses Grow Successfully Under Pine Trees?

Growing roses under pine trees

Generally speaking, the conditions under pine trees are not favourable for rose growing. However, if the pine tree has a sparse canopy that allows 6 hours of sunlight and you amend the soil with plenty of organic matter, diligently water the rose with four gallons once per week, it is possible to grow rose bushes under pine trees.

Roses require a specific set of conditions to be at their healthiest and produce the most flowers. Below I will go through all the adjustments you will need to make, in order to successfully grow roses under pines…

Amending the Soil under Pines for Rose Planting

Roses love well-draining soil, however, the area underneath pine trees can be problematic because the canopy intercepts rain and the structure of the soil underneath pine trees tends to be particularly well-draining and may drain too fast for the rose roots to draw up water.

Roses also need fertile soil as they are particularly heavy feeders so some significant adjustments to the soil should be made.

When you are going to plant your roses ideally you need to dig the hole around twice the size of the root ball. This can be quite tricky when you are underneath a pine tree as the roots of pine tend to be near the surface so finding the ideal space for your rose may require some exploratory digging and some trial and error.

Bear in mind that you can chop through the odd root on an established pine tree with no lasting damage to the tree, in order to create planting space for your rose. Pine roots do tend to grow shallow to the surface so it may be necessary to remove one that is in the way with an axe.

Once you have found a space that is devoid of pine roots and dug your hole you will need to partially fill the hole with leaf mould, compost, well-rotted horse manure or perhaps a combination of all three as they are all full of nutrients and have a high capacity to absorb water.

A layer of compost in the bottom of the hole will hold onto water so that the roots of your rose can draw upon the moisture when they need to, however, the compost still forms a structure that allows excess water to drain away so your rose bush does not succumb to root rot.

It will also provide nice fertile, soft ground for the roses to grow into.

The bud union (the point at which the rose canes attach to the roots) of the rose need to be about 1 inch below the soil line so add or subtract your compost till your rose is at the right height.

This helps ensure that your newly planted rose remains stable in its new home.

Fill in the rest of the space around the rose with compost, leaf mould or horse manure and firm the rose into the ground around the base of the rose to give it some more stability.

The added organic matter will stimulate earthworm activity which feeds on the decomposing material and produces worm castings. The nutrients in worm casts are chelated, which means it is in a form that is easier for the roots to absorb.

The healthier the ecosystem of the soil with more worms, microbes, fungi, yeasts and beneficial bacteria, the healthier your rose will be. A strong, healthy rose is more resistant to disease and pests and produces a greater number of blooms.

That is all there is to it!

Will the Rose Receive More than 6 Hours of Light Under the Pine Tree?

The most important factor for growing roses is sunlight. If the canopy of the pine tree is too dense then you will not be able to grow roses as roses require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to grow successfully.

If there are less than 6 hours of light, the rose will grow leggy, produce poor-quality blooms and almost certainly die.

Some pine trees are fairly sparse in terms of the number of branches and therefore cast much less of a shadow. If there is a sunny spot with 6 hours of sunlight then you are in luck.

If not consider cutting back some overhanging branches so that more sunlight can reach the ground.

For best practice, you should time how much sunlight the rose should receive on a summer’s day. To do this you can either observe the location over the course of the day or purchase a product on Amazon that measures not only the amount of sunlight a spot in your garden receives but also the pH of the soil and the soil’s moisture content. Best of all it is available for a great price.

A soil gauge can measure the pH of soil and the amount of sunlight in a specific spot of your garden.
A soil gauge can measure the pH of soil and the amount of sunlight in a specific spot of your garden.

Soil pH under Pine Trees

Roses are best suited to slightly acidic soil and thrive in the range of pH 6-7 with pH 6.5 being optimal.

The good news is that pine trees also grow best in the same, slightly acidic soil conditions. So if you have a healthy pine tree already growing this is an indicator that the soil will be suitable for roses.

Pine trees obviously drop their needles on mass, covering the underlying ground and forming a natural mulch as they decompose and recycle their nutrients back into the soil. The pine needles should maintain the pH of the soil in the optimal range for roses, so there is likely nothing to worry about.

But if you have any doubts about the pH of your soil I thoroughly recommend that you buy a soil test kit from Amazon (as mentioned in the previous sunlight section). I use this soil test kit as it detects not only the soil pH but also the moisture of the soil and the amount of sunlight the area receives which are all essential factors in successful rose growth.

The Importance of Adding Mulch to Roses under Pine Trees

It is important to add a layer of mulch around the base of all roses, particularly under the drier conditions of a pine tree.

Distribute a 2-inch layer of mulch such as compost twice a year around your rose for best results.

The first layer of mulch should be at the start of spring so that the soil can hold more water, keep the roots nice and cool and add nutrients to the soil. Mulch also helps suppress weed growth and improves the structure of the soil so that it drains well and allows space for roots to grow.

The second layer should be applied before winter to help insulate the roots from the worst of the winter cold.

Insulated roots of roses are thought to be able to repair themselves throughout the winter and establish further into the soil. The insulation also gives the rose bush a head start in the spring when the weather starts to warm up again.

Keep the mulch at least two inches away from the rose canes as rose wood that is consistently above the soil line does not like to be exposed to constant moisture.

Watering your Roses Under Pine Trees

If you intend to plant roses underneath a pine tree then you will have to be particularly diligent about your watering.

The traditional advice is that if you receive more than an inch of rain over the course of a week then you do not need to water your roses that week.

However under pine trees there is obviously the problem of the canopy restricting the level of rainfall reaching your rose and the soil under pine trees tends to be particularly porous and fast draining, so you will have to stick to a strict watering schedule.

Roses prefer to receive one good long soak per week during the growing season (not a little and often approach). You can do this with a soaker hose as you go around your garden or with a 4-gallon watering can.

Adhere to this watering schedule only in the growing season. In most climates, it is unnecessary to water roses when they are in their period of winter dormancy.

I must reemphasize the importance of mulch with organic material such as leaf mould, compost and horse manure. These materials have a much greater capacity to retain water and stimulate the soil ecology than pine needles.

Just two applications of mulch per year will be enough to make sure the roots of your rose have access to enough moisture in the soil.

Adding Fertilizer to Roses under Pine Trees

To ensure healthy roses with long last, plentiful blooms it is a good idea to add fertilizer to your rose. Roses are heavy feeders and they will be competing with the pine tree for nutrients so it is a good idea to give your rose bush a helping hand.

You can use organic fertilizers such as bone meal, fish emulsion and alfalfa to add to the soil for much-needed nutrients. Or you can use a premade rose fertilizer such as miracle-gro. The benefit of Miracle-Gro is that it contains all the minerals and nutrients that your rose needs in the correct balance, which takes out the guesswork.

I personally like using Miracle-Gro rose and shrub fertilizer as you just have to apply one cup of graduals to the soil twice a year and water them and the results are undeniable, with plentiful flowers and healthy leaves that are resistant to the common diseases.

Apply it once the weather has warmed up in the spring and then another application in June.

Never apply fertilizer too early in the season or after August 15th. This is because the nitrogen in the fertilizer will encourage new soft growth which is particularly susceptible to cold weather and will turn black at the first sign of frost.


Can you grow roses under pine trees successfully? The answer is yes as long as you make the necessary amendments to the soil and ensure that the rose receives enough sunlight. The soil under pine trees tends to be fairly nutrient poor so you need to add regular mulch and use a fertilizer in the growing season is very important as roses are very heavy feeders and demand a lot of nutrients.

If you follow the steps and make all the necessary adjustments there is no reason why you can’t grow healthy roses with plentiful blooms.

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