pH Level for Roses: Why Is It Important and What Is Optimal?
pH level for roses is an important but often overlooked aspect of soil health that determines how well they will grow. In this article, we’ll consider:
- Why are pH levels for roses important?
- How do I find out soil pH levels?
- How do I adjust soil pH levels for roses?
pH is a measurement of acidity and alkalinity. pH 7 is neutral, while values below this are more acidic and values above are more alkali.
It’s important to know the soil’s pH level as it greatly affects the plant’s absorption of nutrients.
The ideal soil pH level for roses is between 6 and 7, so slightly acidic, with 6.5 considered optimal for most varieties of roses.
If soil pH drops below 6, the roots of roses find it difficult to absorb potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen, while a pH level above 7 also makes it hard to get enough phosphorus, as well as iron and manganese.
Without sufficient quantities of these nutrients, roses will be less equipped to fight off diseases and pests and will display signs of ill health, such as stunted growth and yellowed leaves. If this is left untreated, it could lead to death.
So, it's not enough to have nutrient-rich soil supplemented with organic fertilisers. You must also take into account the ideal pH level for roses so they can adequately absorb the nutrients they need.
pH Level for Roses: How Do I Find Out The pH Level?
As such, it is a good idea to test the soil’s pH level for rosesbefore you plant them.
You can do this by getting a pH test kit from a garden centre. These are fairly inexpensive and easy to use.
Make sure to take samples at a depth up to around 15 inches in the soil, as the roses’ root systems extend as far as this.
Alternatively, you can take a sample to a testing laboratory at a university or agricultural research centre for more accurate and detailed information.
As well as telling you the soil pH, these tests provide other useful information, like nutrient levels, salinity, and soil texture.
How Do I Adjust Soil pH Level for Roses?
Adjusting soil pH levels for roses is relatively straightforward, but there’s no quick fix.
You need to give yourself enough time, a few months or more, to adjust soil pH gradually. Once you have consistent test results between pH 6 and 7, then you know the soil is ready to grow roses.
If you find the soil pH is too alkali, say 7.5 or higher, you can lower this value by mixing ferrous sulphate, aluminium sulphate, or elemental sulphur into the soil.
Another option is to use organic matter which, once fully decomposed, will either be pH neutral or slightly acidic.
For soil that is only slightly too acidic i.e. between 5 and 6, then a good option is to add a combination of organic matter and wood ash into the soil until a depth of around 15 inches.
Wood ash is alkaline so it will raise your soil's pH levels, but be sure not to use ash from coal as they often contain toxins that will compromise soil health.
For very acidic soil i.e. 5 or lower, add dolomite or ground limestone but follow the instructions very carefully to ensure you don’t use too much.
pH Level for Roses: Key Takeaways
- Roses need a soil pH of between 6 and 7 for healthy growth. Ideally, the pH level for roses should be around 6.5.
- Soils that are too acidic or too alkali affect the roses’ ability to absorb nutrients, resulting in stunted growth, poor health, and possibly death.
- Determining the soil pH level is straightforward and inexpensive with the use of testing kits from garden centres.
- If necessary, you can adjust soil pH levels to the optimal range for roses using a variety of materials, but it can take several months to achieve the desired results.