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Soil pH & soil type & moisture & fertilizer for certain roses?

strawchicago z5
16 days ago
last modified: 16 days ago

Generalizations such as "roses prefer acidic soil" don't apply to certain own-root roses, such as French or Meilland roses. However, multiflora-rootstock does better in loamy & acidic soil than alkaline dense soil. My 3 own-root Comte de Chambord do great in dense clay for 10 years, while Comte (grafted on multiflora) declined after 5 years. The grafted-on-multiflora bloomed only with tons of rain & soluble fertilizer high in phosphorus & potassium.

In contrast, OWN-ROOT French or Meilland roses thrive in my alkaline clay at pH 8, and decline when I made my clay more acidic. Below is Meilland Sweet Promise in pH 8 clay, fertilized with alfalfa meal & horse manure & Lilly Miller NPK 10-5-4 in early spring. Firefighter (French Meilland) at right also prefers alkaline clay.


Sweet Promise has an apple-blossom scents, which is better than green-apple scent in Aloha. French roses are bred in alkaline clay region (southern France).


Sweet Promise (French Meilland) thrives in wet & poor-drainage clay with low-thorn & glossy leaves. Among my 134 own-roots, low-thorn roses need more moisture than thorny roses. Annie L. McDowell is one example.


French Meilland own-roots get woody & chunky fast, and can handle dense clay better. These roots require more potassium & calcium, versus cluster-roots like Blue Mist and multiflora-rootstock prefer loamy & fluffy soil. Phosphorus helps with branching of roots, so cluster-roots benefit from high-phosphorus fertilizer, and cluster-root also does better with loamy & sandy than thick clay. A few own-root roses in my garden thrive in loamy & fluffy spots with high-phosphorus fertilizer: polyantha Cordelia, Blue Mist (cluster-root) , W.S. 2000, blue or purple own-roots (with multiflora-genetics). The rest of my 134 own-roots which matured to chunky & woody roots do best at alkaline pH (above 7) where potassium and calcium are most available. Below are Kordes roses (Shocking Blue) and Barcelona .. both have cluster root that prefer fluffy soil.


Golden Celebration (yellow), W.S. 2000 (red), Twilight Zone (purple) do better in loamy soil than dense clay .. these roots take longer to mature to woody & chunky.


The advantage of cluster-root like W.S. 2000 is it stays healthy in acidic rain. Below is 10th-year own-root W.S. 2000 planted next to the rain-spout.


Lady of Shalott (orange) below is also a cluster-root, but it's thorny so it can handle dry & fluffy soil. LOS hated my dense clay. I had to put a bag of sand in the planting hole before LOS improved. LOS also likes the high-phosphorus chicken manure .. while French Meilland roses prefer high potassium & calcium.


My red roses: The Dark Lady, Barcelona, W.S. 2000, the Squire, Munstead Wood, W.S. 2000, Tess d'Ubervilles .. all have a higher need for iron. The blue roses (Poseidon & Lagerfeld) bloom best in tons of acidic rain. Old Garden roses like Comte de Chambord (lower pink) also do best with acidic rain.


Kordes roses like Deep Purple (below), or Savannah also do best with acidic rain. Savannah refuses to bloom unless it's all-day rain. Kordes roses become stingy with my alkaline tap at pH 9. In contrast, French Meilland roses bloom easily with alkaline tap water, if soluble fertilizer is given.


Among my 20 Austin roses, Pat Austin, Evelyn, the Squire, Mary Magdalene, and Radio Times bloom well with alkaline tap water at pH 9, if given soluble fertilizer. But the low-thorn Austin roses (Golden Celebration, Queen of Sweden) need acidic rain water to bloom as own-roots. Below is Evelyn as 10-year-own-root.


Comments (102)

  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    7 days ago

    Hi Straw - As always, thanks for your expertise. I have been reading all the articles that you link to and am trying hard to absorb all the information - but it's a hard job!


    What do you think is wrong with these leaves? Top side and bottom side show yellow veins - not green veins with yellow in between them. This is from Earth Angel as tiny own root in 2nd year. There are only 3 leaves like this on the plant, but I can't find out what is causing this.




    Also, a few of my roses have "Blind Shoots" at the tips of the branches or along the canes where laterals should be forming. I noticed under Zinc deficiency that "Rosetting of terminal leaves" and "reduced bud formation" are caused by lack of Zinc. Is "rosetting of terminal leaves" the same as Blind shoots?

    And/or Boron deficiency causes this?

    strawchicago z5 thanked BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    7 days ago

    Are those leaves New Or older leaves?

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    7 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    BirdsLoveroses: You wrote: "Top side and bottom side show yellow veins - not green veins with yellow in between them. This is from Earth Angel as tiny own root in 2nd year. There are only 3 leaves like this on the plant, but I can't find out what is causing this."


    Yours above is NOT manganese, it's more like zinc def. Below pic. is manganese def. I had manganese def. in my rhododendrons with alkaline tap-water & alkaline poor-drainage clay.


    ZincDeficiency Causes by High pH or High Phosphorus or Copper levels. Soil low in organic matter. - Yellow spots or diffuse chlorosis between leaf veins. Small leaves with irregular shape & Necrosis and leaves fall off. Short internodes & Poor flowering.

    Pic. below has yellowing between leaf veins of zinc deficiency, I got that on Queen of Sweden when I put too much triple-super-phosphate in the planting hole.


    Zinc Deficiency: Chlorosis may accompany reduction of leaf size. Leaf margins are often distorted or wrinkled. (high phosphorus will induce zinc def.) Interveinal chlorosis of new leaves with some green next to veins. Short internodes and small leaves. Rosetting or whirling of leaves. Below is zinc def. in dogwood.

    https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/nutdef/pic20.shtml


    Below is zinc def. in pear (note the tiny leaves and shorter internodes):


    Birdsforroses, you wrote: "Also, a few of my roses have "Blind Shoots" at the tips of the branches or along the canes where laterals should be forming. I noticed under Zinc deficiency that "Rosetting of terminal leaves" and "reduced bud formation" are caused by lack of Zinc. Is "rosetting of terminal leaves" the same as Blind shoots? And/or Boron deficiency causes this?"

    MY ANSWER: blind shoots occur with boron deficiency (high pH), and rosetting of terminal leaves occurs with zinc def. (high pH or high phosphorus or high copper).

    Boron deficiency is more like witches' broom. Boron deficiency is common in alkaline soil & alkaline water. One fruit-orchard owner got a soil test, supplied needed boron, and witnessed a big jump in fruit-production. I didn't fertilize my peach tree, and most years it was really stingy in fruits with soil pH 7.7. Then I used Lily Miller with acid & chicken-manure, and got the most peaches in over a decade. Just a tiny bit of boron can make a big difference in flowering. Chicken manure is high in zinc, copper, and boron. Other sources of zinc: manure, composts, biosolids. I asked David Austin rose about their fertilizer and they said NPK 10-8-10 with rotted chicken litter. My roses bloom better with Lilly Miller fertilizer since it has more trace elements plus more chicken manure. Espoma HollyTone with sulfur & feather meal & bone meal was a joke: made my roses too tall & zero blooms. Bone meal can't be utilized at soil pH above 7.

    The cluster of leaves (witches' broom) is typical of boron deficiency. Boron is needed in very small amount. Boron Deficiency: Caused by: - High pH - Increased Nitrogen, Calcium and Potassium levels.
    - Soil low in organic matter. - Dryness. - Easily washed away in sandy soils.

    - Young leaves become irregularly shaped, thicker (especially around their tip) and dark green. - Extensive stem necrosis. - Terminal bud necrosis (blind shoots). Decreased flower and seed production. - Short internodes. - Witches' broom. Below is a pic. of boron deficiency:


  • CeresMer Zone 7a NJ
    6 days ago

    Thank you @strawchicago z5 for always answering abs sharing your knowledge with us newbies! I really appreciate! I added a tinny bit of gypsum and I did just 1/3 of my weekly fertilizer. I will do it every 3 days instead of weekly! Will post updates once the tree gets better.

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  • CeresMer Zone 7a NJ
    6 days ago

    @strawchicago z5 we have lots of rain, but I still water them maybe once a week since they are in pots. Is definitely the whole plant. So you think too acidic the soil? Geez, I added a little bit of gypsum. Like 1/2 teaspoon. I will take a better picture tomorrow. I have been getting 1in of rain pretty much every week.

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    6 days ago

    Thanks, Straw - here is 2 year old Desdemona (on Dr. Huey) with blind shoots.



    Here is 4 year old Royal Jubilee (on Dr. Huey) showing the rosetting whorls. I decided to try this one on a tuteur spiraling the long canes around so they would (hopefully) make a lot of laterals and improve blooming. Otherwise the blooms were all at the tips of tall canes. Imagine my disappointment when all the new growth that came out were these rosette whorls! For the blind growth, I usually cut the tip off at a leaf node. But for these tight whorls, there is not enough stem to cut.




    So it's good to know that I can remedy this with some fertilizer. I bought some Austin fertilizer to try but haven't used it yet. If that is all it will take, then I'll put it on all the roses that are doing this blind shoot business.

    You wrote - "BoronDeficiency: Caused by: - High pH - Increased Nitrogen, Calcium and Potassium levels - Soil low in organic matter. - Dryness. - Easily washed away in sandy soils."

    Well, My soil pH is high - I have been fertilizing with Alfala meal, Cottonseed meal, Kelp meal, Liquid Fish and Liquid Kelp + Liquid Humates. I have been acidifying my high pH tap water with Sulfur and Sulfate of Potash. ( but I want the soil to be high in Potassium to fend off the fungal diseases? ) my soil is low in organic matter except where I plant new things. It is dry, and I have sandy soil - so it seems like I checked just about all the boxes for Boron deficiency!

    I don't use manures because of the saltiness and low rain. But I do water a lot (high pH tap water). But if Chicken Manure is where the Boron comes from, then maybe a fertilizer containing it like the Austin fertilizer is something I should use.

    I am making a batch of Alfalfa Tea to use later this week. Would that alone do the trick or should I also use the Austin fertilizer?


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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I would like clearer pictures, but I am seeing clear sign of midge on your second picture of Desdemona.

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    6 days ago


    oh no! What is midge?

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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 days ago

    I hope it is a mistake and someone else can say whether or not they have midge in California. Rose Midge Puts it's larvae in The area with growing shoots so you don't get any shoots Or flowers. Growing tips will look like burnt marches like your 2nd pic.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Here's a pic. of midge with black & withered shoot on roses. I had midge before on W.S. 2000 since I tested high phosphorus ORGANIC fertilizer. That really attracted midge with its stinky kelp & fish bonemeal. Midge is a type of fly and they like anything stinky. For midge to hatch, they need perfect moisture. They don't like it too dry (like rock-hard-clay) or too wet (like flooding). Cornell University recommended flooding to stop midge. My mistake: Instead of rock-hard clay, I dumped moist potting soil around W.S. 2000, plus stinky Organic fertilizer. If you don't have the tip-black shoot, then it's NOT midge, but trace-elements deficiency at high pH which stops blooming altogether. I had seen roses being super tall at local alkaline rose park with zero blooms & watered with alkaline-tap water.


    Rose Midge

    • Damage first appears in July and continues throughout summer
    • Flower buds may be injured or killed
    • Shoots may also be injured
    • Injured areas turn brown and eventually black
    • Larvae are very tiny (1/16th inch long) and whitish; difficult to detected

    https://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/annualperennial/roses/flowersbrown.html

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I've battled image for years since I didn't recognize it at 1st. I did see what I thought was a Black tip on that second picture. I wish I could copy it and circle it to show where I mean mine or not always long as the picture Use showed is is. I have also read that manure can attract them., but mine came from a nursery. I have seen it here as early as may it just depends how soon the soil warms up and they emerge. I hate them.

    I've battled image for years since I didn't recognize it at 1st. I did see what I thought was a Black tip on that second picture. I wish I could copy it and circle it to show where I mean. mine were not always long as the picture you showed was. I have also read that manure can attract them., but mine came from a nursery.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Birdsloveroses: It's cheap to mix peat-moss (Huge bale for $10 at Walmart) into your soil to LOWER pH and to UP moisture. pH of peat moss is 4, very ACIDIC. Once the pH is lower, then all trace elements are available instead of being locked up at high pH.

    Rhododendrons and azaleas prefer acidic soils having a pH between 4.5 to 6.0. But they bloomed well in my rock hard clay at pH 8, since I mixed peatmoss (pH 4) to lower my soil pH. Adding peatmoss is not enough, I have to fix my alkaline tap water (pH 9) with sulfur. Another way to lower pH of tap water is adding vitamin C via used lemon. Plants need vitamin C for growth. My own-root roses were vigorous with "used-lemon-water" before I got into sulfate of potash & gypsum to LOWER tap-water and to induce blooms.

    I had midge before and I did not see the rosette whorls like your pics. Anna in Beverly Hills, CA also reported blind-shoot & rosette whorls like yours (back in 2016 in Organic Rose). She grew roses in pots. Blind-shoot & rosette whorls are called witches' broom, typical of Boron deficiency in high pH with no acidic rain.

    My roses had zero blooms from Espoma Rose tone when my soil pH was 7.7. But they bloom well with Acid Lilly Miller NPK since it has more trace elements (zinc, boron, copper) compared to Rose tone.

    Too much nitrogen can stop blooming. In alkaline condition, sulfate of potash is NOT soluble ,but muriate of potash (potassium chloride) is 3 times more soluble but higher in salt. If your roses are too tall with zero blooms, I would use Lilly Miller Tomato fertilizer (LOWER NITROGEN, NPK 5-10-10 with SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium plus SOLUBLE trace elements.) Adding more ACIDIC elemental sulfur to the below granular fertilizer at NPK 5-10-10 would induce blooming. The logic of below fertilizer containing bone meal is to have phosphorus as SLOW-RELEASED, rather than fast-release, too much phosphorus creates zinc deficiency.

    http://lillymiller.cvt.int.central.com/labels/LillyMiller/LM_Morcrop_4lb_300029069.pdf

    Derived from dried poultry waste, bone meal, alfalfa meal, ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate, muriate of potash, calcium and sodium borate, iron sucrate, manganese sucrate, sodium molybdate, zinc sucrate. *2.4% slowly available nitrogen from dried poultry waste, bone meal and alfalfa meal.

    For SOLUBLE fertilizer, I would use LOW nitrogen & high potassium to induce blooming like Masterblend 4-18-38 for tomatoes, below has all trace elements. Roses grafted on Dr.Huey (a climber) needs high potassium to stunt them and to force them to bloom. Muriate of potash is more available to plants than sulfate of potash since it's 3 times more soluble, but it's high in salt, so acidic gypsum should be added to "de-salt".

    https://www.amazon.com/MasterBlend-4-18-38-Tomato-Vegetable-Fertilizer/dp/B071V8B4FL/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=tomato+fertilizer&qid=1620103866&sr=8-10

  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I get a great organic from ollies with trace elements if you have one nearby. InterEsting Straw, i use something similar to the acid lilly miller for my HMs and it really helps generally. I remember the name. It's Whitney farms brand For tomato and vegetables.

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  • rosecanadian
    6 days ago

    Thanks, Teresa! I noticed that you mentioned that a witch's broom (thin, pale, ragged witch's broom) leaf effect can be caused by high pH. I have a few roses where that's occurring, and the only fertilizer I've given so far is alfalfa pellets. So....maybe those 3 or 4 roses need some gypsum or plain sulfur?? We had a little bit of rain today...but mainly it's been tap watering. This is interesting! I wasn't sure what to do. I put a little bit of sulfur on...like 1/4 tsp.

    You are such a support to me and to everyone here...thanks!!! :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    Carol: too much calcium will induce boron, zinc, and potassium deficiency, and REDUCE BLOOMS. I'm using vinegar & sulfate of potash to lower the pH of my alkaline-tap-water, and save the calcium as in liming when I get tons of acidic rain in spring.

    CalciumDeficiency Caused by: Low soil pH or High Magnesium or Sodium. - Young leaves are distorted, with curled margins or with brown spots. Terminal bud necrosis. - Stunted root growth. Too much calciumcauses deficiency Magnesium, Potassium, zinc, iron and boron.

    Difference in calcium def. versus boron def.: Calcium def. causes wilted & thin upper leaves, versus boron def causes thickened curled upper leaves and blind shoot.

    Potassium deficiency may also contribute to the production of "blind shoots" (new stems with no flower). Potassium is NOT available when soil is dry.

    Rose tissue analysis done by U of CA at Davis showed TWICE MORE POTASSIUM than calcium, I always use sulfate of potash and acidic sulfur (or vinegar) to lower my pH 9 alkaline tap water. From the link Nutrient deficiencies in rose.)

    "Calcium deficiency can also contribute to weak stems and in the cut flower industry is associated with a condition known as black tip on some red rose varieties. There is a relationship between calcium and boron for normal growth. If calcium levels are high the relative boron levels must also be high for boron deficiency symptoms not to occur."

    Boron deficiency can cause small, thickened, curled, scorched leaves and death to the terminal bud. Death of the terminal bud causes lateral buds to develop contributing to witches broom effect. Boron deficiency can cause "bullheads" (flowers with shortened petals, that are abnormally thick and have the margins roll in).

    Zinc deficiency symptoms are similar to those caused by copper deficiency. However, zinc deficiency can also the lateral shoots that develop after the terminal bud dies to stunt causing "little leaf" symptoms."

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    Excerpt from below link: "Conditions that can cause B deficiency include: low B in tap water or fertilizer, high calcium levels (which can inhibit B uptake), inactive roots (waterlogged or dry soil, cold root-zone), high humidity, soil packed too tightly, or high pH." http://www.greenhouse.cornell.edu/crops/factsheets/boron_deficiency.pdf

    "Drench applications with a B containing product can also be used for preventative and corrective measures. Use caution when applying supplemental B; plants require only a small amount of B and over application of B leading to toxicity is easily done. Some products that can be used: • Soluble Trace Element Mix (S.T.E.M.) at 4 ounces per 100 gallons (supplies 4 ppm B plus other trace elements) • Borax (11% Boron) at 0.75 ounces per 100 gallons (supplies 6 ppm B) "

    My note: Pakistan rose grower like Tahir Khan with 200 roses in pots in hot temp. & alkaline tap-water uses soluble trace elements to induce blooms. Cornell agricultural link recommends STEM (soluble trace element) which is cheap at $5.70, see below. It's sold out fast on Amazon (best to stock up during winter).

    Peter's Professional Soluble Trace Element Mix with Sulfate nutrients provide additional sulfur. One time corrective application: use 0.5 lb./100 gal. finished solution.

    https://www.customhydronutrients.com/soluble-trace-element-mix-c-1_50_51_32.html

  • aerbk7b
    6 days ago

    Hi Straw — just re-reading some of this terrific info as now have ingredients to do my cabbage soil and water tests. (Finally have the distilled water and cabbage. Of course now when it finally rained here after basically none for weeks...)
    Since I’m in the inner city, I need to mail order most every amendment suggested. I googled pea gravel — there were a zillion different versions. Which one are folks here using w/roses? to wrap my head around the difference between langbeinite and sulpomag. I had hoped to just buy langbeinite, especially as it’s lower salt — not both. But sounds like it won’t work to substitute for sulpomag? (Which I was more familiar with prior to reading all here...)
    Also am interested to here comparisons of —

    • David Austin rose food vs Espoma, Mills Magic, et al? I inherited a bag from my mother when she moved to an apt.
    • I’ve been using this blended product to renew soil in pots, around roses etc, my community garden plot for years, plus for roses - alfalfa, kelp, fish emulsion - rather than buying individual ingredients, so am wondering how it stacks up? I’m in an apartment, so limited apace to store a lot of garden supply... https://www.fedcoseeds.com/ogs/vermont-compost-plus-8353
    • I started using this as my fish emulsion product (weak solution weekly, both as a foliar spray and watered in, since I read last year the NYBG has been using to strengthen roses against disease, et al:
      http://www.organicgem.com/
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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    6 days ago

    Vapor - You scared me! But I don't think it's midge. There is no black. It's very normal looking new leaves but they grow in a circle - a rosette of leaves. There is no stem and bud forming like normally should be.

    All my roses don't do this, only a very few. I guess Royal Jubilee is the worst with only a couple of blooms and most of the new growth is rosettes. Some other roses have blooming stems along with a few blind shoots and maybe only one or two rosettes. Some of the roses are covered in buds just starting to open with none of the blind shoot - rosette stuff.

    Straw - I could very well have too much calcium in the dry, coastal, high pH soil. I have both sandy and clay and both are high pH. I am starting to think that maybe the roses that are having the blind shoots/rosettes are ones that would prefer more acidic conditions? And the ones that are covered in buds are ones that like the alkaline conditions? I have been giving them all the Vinegar/Sulphate of Potash/Sulfur to lower the pH of the tap water. I've only done it 1 time a week so far so maybe that's not enough for the roses that prefer acidic or at least more neutral conditions. And the roses that like the alkaline conditions are fine with or without it.

    I think I'll go ahead and use the Austin fertilizer that I already have and also use the Alfalfa Tea that I am letting ferment. I'll see what happens with that before I try to add Boron specifically. Then if it looks necessary, I can try the Peter's trace elements.

    Thanks for all your help.

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  • rosecanadian
    6 days ago

    Here's a weird one. My Lasting Love (French rose) has reddish green leaves (doesn't look normal to me...really dark).. and fuschia pink edging. Any ideas? :)

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  • rosecanadian
    6 days ago

    This is interesting!


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  • Sheila z8a Rogue Valley OR
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    I'm ph 7.0 here. I don't think that is right for Oregon. I looked Oregon up and note the coastal area is acidic but the rest of Oregon is not.

  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    6 days ago

    rosecanadian - In Cali I WISH my soil pH was in the 7's!

    I need to find that leaf chart that stawchicago posted somewhere - it shows what different deficiencies look like. Pink might be Copper?

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    6 days ago

    The leaf chart is in the thread "How to tell mineral/nutrient deficiency in plants and soil" by strawchicago. I don't know how to copy the chart here.

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  • rosecanadian
    6 days ago

    So it doesn't seem like that chart is very accurate. :)

    Thanks, Birds...I'll take a look there. :)

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  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    5 days ago

    Look up leaf chart nutrient deficiency on google. There are many of them. Yes unfortunately I don't know how to copy pictures from posts either. Wish I could do that. Would make things easier! Carol, I had just saved that picture but I guess I won't bother now. Good try! I guess it's hard to generalize. Here in Ohio we have very acidic soil on the sandstone area and then Very basic on the dolomotic lime. There's also sandy you're soil north of me and then of course huge clay deposits. That's why I Ohio was such a center or pottery production.

    I also meant to say the Whitney farms organic fertilizer was not what I bought as an acidifier of sorts. This is just what I use on my roses. At Ollies its $9.99 for a 15 lb. Bag.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Birdsloveroses: Found this from Montana extension: "soils often have so much calcium that it makes nutrients, such as phosphorus, unavailable." Also too much calcium causes deficiency Magnesium, Potassium, zinc, iron and boron. Too much calcium = no blooms.

    The problem with alfalfa: "Alfalfa is so high in calcium that the ashes from its leaves are 99% calcium. When the calcium content of alfalfa is compared to milk 1 oz of powdered milk contained 38% of RDA, while 1 oz of powdered alfalfa contained 75% RDA."

    Calcium in alfalfa

    When I used a HUGE BAG of alfalfa meal in summer 2012: I mixed into the soil of my tomato bed, as well as the raised bed for new Austin-own-roots. I got super-tall tomatoes that year, but 1/4 the amount of fruits !! And my 1st-year-own-root Austins (Evelyn, Scepter'd Isle, Charles Darwin) grew tall rather than bloom. Their leaves were large & healthy & shiny and they were tall & vigorous, but very stingy in blooms, thanks to alfalfa (high in calcium) mixed into soil.

    But back in 2012 I didn't use any alfalfa meal for young own-roots Radio Times, Pat Austin, and Mary Magdalene. I simply mulched with horse manure (has trace elements), plus Acid-Lilly Miller fertilizer (with SOLUBLE trace elements & phosphorus & potassium NPK 10-5-4), and they bloomed well despite pH 9 tap-water and pH 8 clay. These 3 were planted below a roof overhang which blocked out 80% of rain: I didn't fix my water back then. But they were loaded with blooms, thanks to SOLUBLE trace elements & SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium in Acid-Lily-Miller fertilizer. My soil is high in magnesium but barely adequate in calcium per EarthCo. soil-test.


  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Carol: Per what you wrote: "My Lasting Love (French rose) has reddish green leaves (doesn't look normal to me...really dark).. and fuschia pink edging. Any ideas? :)

    Do you mean it's kind of "bronzy" color? I got that "bronzy" color (reddish leaves) on my French rose Dee-lish after I put too much lime to offset spring rain. Click on below chart to see:


  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    5 days ago

    Ohhh - I'm so confused! I think i'll stop trying to overthink all of this.

    I put DA fertilizer on all my roses today - DA's grafted on Dr. Huey, DA's own root, own root old garden roses, French ones, all of 'em! If this turns out to be good in a few weeks, then i think I'll just continue with it. Or another pre-blended fertilizer. It's certainly no cheaper to buy all the meals and mix them or to buy the Fish and Kelp emulsions, so if they don't include all the micro nutrients and result in less blooms, then what's the point?

    I do like organic, though...

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    BirdsLoveRoses: I'm sold on SOLUBLE fertilizer after seeing ingredients in granular Lilly Miller with many SOLUBLE trace elements & SOLUBLE phosphorus and potassium for blooming. I got 15 blooms on Sonia Rykiel in a dinky pot (watered with pH 9 tap-water) in hot summer, with SOLUBLE MG-for roses that dissolve easily in alkaline-tap. I don't think roses' roots can digest solid-fertilizer, and studies showed that potassium and phosphorus are best in SOLUBLE forms for plants to utilize.

    In contrast. I got zero blooms when I mixed alfalfa meal into my soil .. that remained a solid and killed a $30 peony. I got zero blooms with Espoma Holly tone with INSOLUBLE stuff like feather meal, alfalfa meal, bone meal, etc. Fall 2018 with Holly tone fertilizer resulted in 6 feet tall own-root Dee-lish with one bloom, and 12 feet tall James Galway with zero blooms, compared to last year with lots of blooms on Dee-lish with SOLUBLE sulfate of potash.

    Also last year during hot & dry with alkaline tap-water at pH 9, I tested MG-soluble for roses at NPK 18-24-16, plus sulfate of potash on Evelyn and it broke out in twice more buds. Evelyn is 10-year own-root.

  • slumgullion in southern OR
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I'm so impressed with Strawchicago's encyclopedic knowledge! I bought some cracked corn today and this weekend will try the corn water trick on my rhodies and azaleas, and gardenias and hydrangeas. I've been putting acid plant food on them, but then I have to keep the chickens out or they eat the sulfur balls and then their tummies get upset. If the corn water works, I can feed the acidified water to the plants and the corn to the hens and everyone will be happy!

    As for roses...I think I must be extremely blessed! Everything grows and flowers fine here! All different kinds and classes. I throw some G&B organic rose food at them once a year, plus a scoop of horse poop, a few Tbsp of epsom salt, and everyone does great (at least in rose-land). Maybe some kelp if I think about it, and of course the hens leave their little contributions here and there. But generally I haven't had the kinds of big soil problems I see others dealing with...I've never done a soil test, and gave up even on trying to test the soil pH.

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  • rosecanadian
    5 days ago

    Straw - I think your chart explains my Lasting Love's problem as lack of phosphorous! Really dark green leaves (doesn't look good) and purple/pink (almost fluorescent) edges. Really strange. So if it's lack of phosphorous...how do I fix it? Should I try to fix the pH first? I had been watering with the hose...and I put on a couple of handfuls of alfalfa pellets. I think I did that twice though...once in April and once in May. Thank you!!! I can take a picture for reference for others...but I won't be able to share it until tomorrow night at the earliest.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Carol: you are right about phosphorus def. with dark-green leaves and fuschia pink edges. Click on below to see purple/pink edge on corn with phosphorus def.

    High calcium or high pH cause phosphorus def. One time I ran out of potting soil so I topped a geranium pot with icky-yellowish-sub-clay (pH near 9 plus high in calcium). And the geranium's leaves turned gaudy pinkish-purple at the edge ... so bizarre !!

    High calcium induces phosphorus deficiency (many links posted that). There are 4 types of "sulfur":

    1) Sulfur as a major nutrient in plant growth. It's NOT available at low pH, such as that of acidic rain (pH 4.5). Sulfur def. results in the ENTIRE PLANT pale, plus stunt growth (1/2 size bush), plus less flowering. To correct: raise the pH to neutral with powder lime, sulfur as a plant-nutrient is most available at neutral to alkaline pH.

    2) Acidic Elemental sulfur (the yellow dust) sold cheap on Amazon at $17 for 5 lb. to kill insects plus to lower soil pH. "Let the soil sit for at least one week and up to one month before planting. This lessens the danger of sulfur being converted by excess water into hydrogen sulfide, which is corrosive to plant roots and increases the opportunity for soil bacteria to convert sulfur into root-accessible sulfuric acid before you plant." SFgate link.

    3) Sulfate compounds, such as gypsum (calcium sulfate with 21% sulfur, very acidic & kills earthworms). Or sulfate of potash (18% sulfur, less acidic so needs vinegar to dissolve in my alkaline tap at pH 9). Or Ammonium sulfate (salty nitrogen fertilizer to produce fast deep green growth spurt, also lowers soil pH).

    4) Garden sulfur (white granules) such as Jobes' or Espoma's Soil-Acidifier. This has a large % of gypsum (calcium sulfate) and folks complain that Jobes' soil-acidifier can't even dissolve in water. Using this will produce growth spurt due to SOLUBLE calcium .. like 1st year-own-root Munstead threw a 3-feet octopus cane in a dinky pot after I put some gypsum on top .. he gave 3 blooms for the entire year !! Too much of garden sulfur (has calcium) will result in growth spurt but induces deficiencies in phosphorus, zinc, and boron.

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Aerbk: My answers are in bold below

    Pea-gravel is best in smallest size possible to "re-mineralize" poor soil in high-rain area. Tree roots steal lots of calcium & nitrogen from soil. After blocking tree-roots with cement blocks, I mix pea-gravel into poor soil for slow-released nutrients. With my 38" to 40" of acidic rain at pH 4.5, pea-gravel break down slowly, less so than red-lava-rock (high in iron, boron, and potassium). Vintage Garden used to top their roses with crushed red lava to encourage rooting.


    David Austin rose food vs Espoma, Mills Magic: David Austin rose food has NPK 10-8-10 and they told me it's well-rotted chicken manure. Chicken manure has SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium & trace elements so that help with blooming. Espoma is best INSIDE the planting hole since it has LESS-SOLUBLE & slow-released feather meal, alfafa meal, bone meal (can't be used if pH is more than 7). The worst one is Espoma Holly Tone NPK 4-3-4 (has white sulfur with gypsum) which made my roses too tall with zero blooms in hot & dry.

    Lilly Miller granular fertilizer at NPK 5-10-10 is best for hot & dry (I recommended that to Diane in alkaline Idaho back in 2012). Lilly Miller Acid fertilizer NPK 10-5-4 is for spring time with higher nitrogen. Lilly Miller produces more blooms since it has chicken manure (high in boron, copper, and zinc) plus SOLUBLE trace-elements.

    Roses Unlimited uses Mills Magic granular fertilizer at NPK 6-5-1 and SOLUBLE Mills easy feed at NPK 20-10-6. Mills Magic granular fertilizer has "alfalfa meal, fish meal, steamed bone meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, activated sludge, and an organic compost activator." Fish meal and sewage sludge has SOLUBLE phosphorus and trace elements. But NPK of 6-5-1 is too low in potassium & won't help with disease-prevention, and its bone meal can't be used at pH above 7. Mills Magic SOLUBLE Easy feed is better with NPK 20-10-6 with SOLUBLE trace-elements to induce blooming, plus SOLUBLE phosphorus & potassium.

    "EasyFeed is a combination of Epsom Salts, sequestrine chelated iron, soluble seaweed extract, fish solubles, urea and other soluble fertilizers. NPK analysis is 20-10-6."

    I look at your Vermont Compost link, and it has "composted manure and plant materials, blond sphagnum peat moss, granite meal, animal and/or protein meal, black rock phosphate, kelp meal, gypsum, vermiculite and langbeinite." I honestly don't think it's worth the high price, considering the 1st ingredients are cheap manure & leaves & peat moss, animal meat-meal. Most likely be high in phosphorus like the composted manure & humus bag I got for $2 from Menards which made my roses into minis with blackspots.

    High phosphorus induces nitrogen & zinc & manganese and iron deficiencies. Zap out zinc (#1 anti-fungal element) and I'll get instant blackspots. Zap out nitrogen and I'll get roses which can't grow. YES to your soluble fish emulsion below, fish emulsion is best for pots since it's less salt than chemical fertilizer:
    http://www.organicgem.com/

  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Re-post the info. on red-lava rock which I posted 5 years ago in organic rose forum. I tested red-lava rock many times for the past 5 years: Topped crushed-red-lava rock on Carding Mill and that was the healthiest year. Mixed red-lava-rock into the planting hole of tomatoes and I got bumper crop. Red lava rock "thickens" soil with its alkaline potassium & magnesium so soil is denser & more moisture retention. Red roses like red lava rock with its high iron.

    http://www.palmercc.com/lavarock.htm

    Nitrate Nitrogen.................................4.0 p.p.m.
    Phosphorus........................................6.0 p.p.m.
    Potassium.........................................59.0 p.p.m.
    Zinc.........................................................6 p.p.m.
    Iron..................................................10.0+ p.p.m.
    Copper...............................................5.5+ p.p.m.
    Magnesium.......................................2.0+ p.p.m.
    Boron.................................................10.0 p.p.m.
    Sulfate.................................................7.0 p.p.m.
    Organic Material...........................................5%
    PH.........................................................8.2 Units
    Calcium..................................1.3 Meq/100 gm*






  • aerbk7b
    5 days ago

    Straw — thank you, thank you for answering my questions in detail! Especially re my tree issue. It sounds like I can at least go with using up the bag of David Austin rose food I already have. Won’t reorder Espoma. (Have only ever used the rose or tomato formulas, not the holly...)
    I never put fertilizer in the planting hole because of the tree root issue, but also had always read NOT to at planting a new rose? I have put always a banana peel for potassium, then compost, and, I guess unfortunately aged cow manure. I have no access to horse manure here in the city - at least during the pandemic. I used to have access to bunny manure/compost but that friend sadly moved away. Though i had only had enough to try that on our community garden plot, not our roses.

    I’m interested in the problems you raised in a separate post re alfalfa meal being un/less available? (Having already put that down earlier in the spring..) Would that be less an issue with alfalfa tea vs meal? I do notice i’ve got a number of basal breaks now, and the budding looks pretty good so far.

    Also wondering if/how all of this science translates for differing growing purposes? I think you’re mainly growing for cutting? Whereas have I have all climbers to cover our fences, one of those as a screen, except for 1 perle d’or we got last year.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Aerbk: I tested mixing in Espoma Tomato Tone NPK 3-4-6 into the planting hole, and tomatoes had twice more fruits (thicker stems than composted manure) due to high potassium at 6. I tested mixing Rose tone NPK 4-3-2 into pots, and roses are much more vigorous, but that DID NOT increase blooming since its potassium & phosphorus are from less soluble sources. The best blooming comes from SOLUBLE potassium & phosphorus & trace elements. Espoma Tone product is safe to mix 1 cup since it's a fine-powder and blends in with soil in planting hole. But larger particle like Jobes' granular fertilizer was bad ... own-roots can't cope with large chunks of fertilizer inside planting hole.

    I'm convinced that high phosphorus induces fungal disease due to the suppression of zinc (#1 antifungal trace element). High phosphorus also zaps out nitrogen, roses can't re-grow leaves. I did countless experiments with high-phosphorus: Bought an expensive ORGANIC composted chicken manure and put that into planting hole, it has no antibiotics so Pink Peace grew tall but got the worst blackspot in an excellent drainage spot. The other Pink Peace planted in my native clay had zero blackspots. Then I was absent-minded and put the entire bag of composted cow manure into the planting hole of La Reine and Rouge Royale. Both were stunt in growth like mini-roses (the antibiotics in cow manure zapped out nitrogen-fixing bacteria). Both lost leaves from blackspots. In contrast, I had a 100% healthy La Reine for many years in my native clay until it died in my zone 5a winter.

    Alfalfa meal is great if one has all-day acidic-rain to break it down & make it SOLUBLE. I had seen growth spurt in own-roots topped with alfalfa meal in all-day rain. But NOT best for hot & dry weather when I "cooked" a $30 peony to death by mixing alfalfa meal with clay .. the decomposition is so fast & hot & acidic.

    I killed a 100% healthy rose "Louis Este" by moving it and mixing in alfalfa pellets. Root injury occurred when alfalfa pellets at pH 5.8 decomposed to even more acidic with acidic rain. Alfalfa pellets kill roots fast since pellets are bigger pockets of acidity, versus alfalfa meal is neutralized by my alkaline clay.

    Alfalfa tea is fantastic if soaked for less than 1 day. But if one soak alfalfa pellets in water for several days until it becomes "sour", it's like watering roses with Kimchi or sauerkraut water. Great in alkaline region like CA, but bad in high-rain acidic East coast.

    Climbers and roses grafted on Dr.Huey (a climber) have a higher need for potassium. Potassium THICKENS roots and climbers have woody &chunky roots (like trees) and NOT alfalfa-sprouts cluster-roots like petunias ... annual flowers have higher need for phosphorus for branching of roots. I always douse my climbers (Crown Princess Mag, James Galway) with SOLUBLE sulfate of potash, that force them to bloom rather than being 10 feet tall stingy giants.

    Potassium forces blooming plus thicken rose-tissue to prevent pests and diseases. Potassium is more available as in a solution to roots.

  • rosecanadian
    5 days ago

    Straw - too much calcium? Hmm....I googled alfalfa pellets, and it said that they have a 5:1 ratio of calcium/phosphorous. Dang. I have the yellow dust. Can I put about a tablespoon of it on Lasting Love (french rose)? I also have water soluble evergreen & acid loving plant food (Miracle Gro) 28-10-10.

    Thanks so much!

  • aerbk7b
    5 days ago

    Straw — again — many thanks for the detailed reply and observations. Especially for you observations re tomatoes, which we grow. Definitely going to try that with my leftover Espoma. It’s been cool to moderate with a few warm days — but very dry. Though we’re finally finally getting some good rain, so hopefully my earlier alfalfa meal applications will work ok. I haven’t noticed anything being killed so far (fingers crossed).
    Think my older CPM is grafted, though bought the other 4 own root. Other 3 climbers are own root (Alchymist and Buff Beauty). By SOLUBLE sulfate of potash — you mean the solution you described in other posts, dissolving sul-po-mag with vinegar?

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  • rosecanadian
    4 days ago

    Well, I went out and took all of the alfalfa pellets out of my pots...because most of them don't look as healthy...there was even mold growing in a few pots. Why don't I ever learn about moderation???

    So, Straw...do you think the acid loving fertilizer, the, sulfur or just leave them alone? :) Thanks!!! :) :) :)

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    4 days ago

    Straw - you wrote above about Espoma Soil Acidifier - "Too much of garden sulfur (has calcium) will result in growth spurt but induces deficiencies in phosphorus, zinc, and boron."

    Guess what I used a couple of months ago - Espoma Soil Acidifier! So that extra calcium could be what caused the Phosphorous, Zinc and Boron deficiencies causing Blind Shoots and Rosettes?


    By the way, I put the David Austin fertilizer on yesterday afternoon and quickly watered it in. My sprinklers went on this morning further watering in the fertilizer. The fertilizer is in the form of little gray pellets. Easy to use scattering 1 oz. around each rose and work into the soil a little bit. The pellets dissolve fairly quickly. I couldn't see any today when I looked. So it is very soluble and easy to use. 2 pros there. We'll see how well it works.


    Thank you for comparing the different fertilizers - I found that interesting.

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    4 days ago
    last modified: 4 days ago

    BirdsLoveRoses: thanks for the good report on David Austin fertilizer dissolved quickly. I put Acid Lilly Miller fertilizer NPK 10-5-4 weeks ago and I still see some not dissolved. Same with chicken manure .. gunked up for at least a month.

    Potassium and phosphorus are known to bind up with soil unless it's in a solution for roots to absorb. I'm testing sulfate of potash mixed with vinegar to fix my alkaline tap-water, and stingy James Galway broke out in 10 buds in 4 hours of sun of morning sun, after I pruned it down to 3 feet.

    Aerbk7b: I never test sul-po-mag so I don't know how well it dissolve in tap-water. The higher the % of sulfur, the easier it is to dissolve. The more sulfur it contains, the more sulfur-nutrient, and darker-green leaves & growth spurt. Gypsum powder at more than 21% sulfur bought from Kelp4Less dissolved fast in my pH 9 alkaline tap water and made leaves dark-green instantly. But potassium sulfate at 18% sulfur cannot dissolve in my tap-water so I mix it with vinegar. Then use 1 TBS of this acidic solution per 2 gallon of tap-water. An excerpt from link below: "Although S exists in many different chemical forms in nature, plants can absorb S only through their root systems in the SO₄²⁻ for sulfate form ... Work in Arkansas has shown that wheat yields were increased from 15 to 44 bushels per acre (bu/A) by the application of just 5 pounds per acre (lbs/A) of S in the potassium sulfate form." https://www.cropnutrition.com/resource-library/sulfate-sulfur-vs-elemental-sulfur-part-i-theres-a-difference

    Examples of sulfate form: calcium sulfate (gypsum), potassium sulfate (sulfate of potash), ammonium sulfate (acidic chemical nitrogen).

    "Elemental S is totally unavailable to plants. Plants simply cannot absorb S⁰ through the root system. Elemental S is inert and water insoluble. when farmers add S⁰ (elemental sulfur) to soil,. In the soil, Soconverts (oxidizes) to the plant-available SO₄²⁻ form. Surface applications of S⁰ are not recommended."

    "Elemental sulfur sources are highly acidifying. Sulfate sources can be either acidifying or neutral in reaction. Ammonium sulfate is an acid-forming material; K-Mag, potassium sulfate and calcium sulfate are neutral materials and don’t affect soil pH."

    My note: gypsum's calcium part stays put on top, but the acid (sulfur) moves down. So when folks take the pH of the top soil, all they get is calcium powder with NO CHANGE in pH, but the acid moves down and destroys root & kills earthworms. The fact that gypsum dissolve easily in my alkaline tap at pH 9 means it's highly acidic, and gypsum is a major ingredient in Espoma and Jobes' Soil Acidifier.

    Carol: Using MG-acid-fertilizer is the fastest way to lower soil pH. Elemental sulfur takes a long time to work, plus surface applications ARE NOT RECOMMENDED.

    "An excellent way to lower the pH of small beds or garden areas is the addition of sphagnum peat. (The pH of Canadian sphagnum peat generally ranges from 3.0 to 4.5.) Sphagnum peat is also a good source of organic matter. On small garden plots, add a one to two inch layer of sphagnum peat and work it into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil before planting. Granular sulfur is the safest, least expensive but slowest acting product to use when attempting to lower your soil's pH."

    https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/1994/4-6-1994/ph.html

    From what I read, it takes months for elemental sulfur to lower soil pH. I get faster result with mixing in peatmoss to lower soil pH. Peatmoss pH is below 4, and it takes just a small amount of peatmoss to lower soil pH, plus peatmoss can hold water 10 times its weight, thus enable solubility of added potassium fertilizer.

  • rosecanadian
    4 days ago

    Thank you Teresa!! I was really discouraged when I went out today (Wed.) to look at my roses. I'm going to give the roses just a little bit of Miracle Grow Acid Lovers. I don't want to overdo it. Who me??? Overdo something?? LOL

    :) :) :)


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  • rosecanadian
    3 days ago

    Update: Well, I think it was a mistake to put acid lover fertilizer on my roses. I really did it dilutely...but most of my roses' leaves are pretty bad, if not gone. So, I guess, they need alakalinity...so I watered with the hose. There are a few roses that are doing BETTER! These roses are my Austins. They're much better than they usually are this time of year. There are also roses that do well for me no matter what....Night Owl, Jacques Cartier, Memorial Day. The rest are not doing well. Except for my bareroot roses...which I haven't fertiized or given alfalfa pellets to. So, that's interesting about the Austins. My Charles Darwin had been wimpy all last year...it's doing great now....so they really do like high acidity.


    So the learning from this is that the alfalfa pellets were acidic. I put about 2 cups of alfalfa pellets early in April...and another 2 cups in early May. That was too much. I tend to overdo things....I have to stop that. :) :)


    This is a learning thread...so this is good. :)

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    3 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Carol: Yes, Austin roses like acidity if they are 1st-year cluster-own-root. But once Austins are in 3rd year and beyond, their roots become chunky & woody like French roses and OLDER own-root Austins prefer more alkaline. Multiflora-rootstock is a cluster-root and can take acidity better than Dr.Huey (chunky and woody).

    Thank you for your feed back on acidity from organic matter. For my alkaline-tap water at pH 9, it helps to have acidic topping like alfalfa meal or peat moss to neutralize tap-water.

    I read the ingredients on my bags of lime: The white pelletized lime (coated with calcium) has zero magnesium but with 89% calcium. I put some on my lawn, and they HAVE NOT DISSOLVED after 2 months !!

    The Garden Lime is a beige-dust, and it has 22% calcium and 12% magnesium. That works better for the dry & acidic tomato bed where I dumped tons of acidic grass clippings (even more acidic than peat moss at pH 4). Calcium is alkaline at pH 9 when dissolved, and magnesium is also alkaline plus magnesium "glue" soil together for more moisture retention. Magnesium works together with potassium to create the "glossy leaves".

    My lawn becomes acidic since I put tons of lawn fertilizer (high in nitrogen ) for the past 20 years. Grass likes it alkaline, and below was how my lawn looked like back in 2011 when our soil pH was near 8 with rock-hard clay. Grass had thicker blades & deep green & lush:


    Below was how my roses looked like back in 2012 with rock-hard clay (pH near 8). They were always healthy topped with alfalfa meal (pH 5.8) and horse manure (pH 8). These roses were in partial shade with only 4 hrs. of sun. (orange-pink is Christopher Marlowe), orange is Pat Austin. They were always HEALTHY, zero blackspots even in late fall.


    My worst year (wimpy & pale roses) were when I topped with tons of acidic grass clippings, and they got worst during fall rain at pH 4.5 here. The worst blackspots were when I tested bagged cow manure, plus putting composted manure (high phosphorus in the planting hole), plus we had tons of acidic rain that released phosphorus.

    This year I reversed the acidity with garden-lime & biochar at pH 8, plus we have MUCH LESS rain, and I'm watering with my pH 9 tap-water (fixed with sulfate of potash &vinegar). I notice a DRASTIC IMPROVEMENT in my roses after I raise the pH to alkaline. Will take some pics. today and start a new thread entitled:

    "Changes in your garden and the results on your plants?"

  • rosecanadian
    2 days ago

    Straw - yes, your grass looks wonderfully green in your photos!


    With a pH of 5.8...no wonder my roses weren't doing well when I put FOUR cups of alfalfa pellets on each rose over two months. Moderation, Carol!!! I need a garden sign that says that. LOL

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  • BirdsLoveRosesSoCalCoast
    yesterday

    Thanks again for all the info, straw.

    If grass clippings made your acidic soil too acidic, I am wondering if I should try grass clippings worked into the top of my alkaline soil to bring it down more toward neutral? Free vs. expensive Alfala Meal!

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  • strawchicago z5
    Original Author
    23 hours ago
    last modified: 23 hours ago

    Yes to grass clippings to lower pH for clay soil. Clay is fine particle and it needs chunky & large particle like grass clippings. In contrast, sand is larger particle and it needs fine particle like peat moss (pH 4) for better moisture plus clump soil together, plus lowering pH.

    I tested mixing in peat moss versus grass-clippings, and grass-clippings is better in lowering pH plus supply nitrogen. Grass-clippings aerate soil & make soil fluffy. Peat moss is too dense. NPK of grass is 4-0.5-2, versus alfalfa meal at 2-1-2. Peat moss has zero nutrients, pH 4, but it holds water 10 times its weight.

    For rock hard clay, one guy reported piling up grass clippings where the clay is big chunky hard-clumps. He kept watering that with his alkaline-tap. The water fermented the grass clippings and produced acid to soften the clay below into fluffy & loamy soil.

    I mix FRESH grass-clippings into my rock-hard clay. After a few rains, the acid broke my clay into fluff, plus more moisture. Decomposed grass clippings on top clump together into "dry & stinky leather" and hard to mix in later.

    Acid Lilly Miller NPK 10-5-4 works for Diane (in Idaho) and for my alkaline clay since its first ingredient is chicken manure (has boron, zinc, copper), also ammonium phosphate (salt index of 20). Ammonium is acidic so it releases phosphorus when dissolved in water. In contrast, Epsoma-tone's phosphorus is from bone meal, which remains a solid unless soil pH is below 7.

    One time I put 2 cups of Holly-Tone into the planting hole of Nahema . and it was really stingy. I also mixed Plant-Tone on the top soil of a young own-root, and the top growth is much slower compared to another own-root fertilized with SOLUBLE MG NPK 24-8-16, plus alfalfa meal mixed on top. Below is 1st-year own-root Princess Charlene de Monaco, I mixed grass clippings & gypsum 7 months in advance to break up rock-hard & alkaline clay. Note the decayed grass clipping on top which I used as mulch:


    Below PCM is on left, and Evelyn is on right. Very firm petals on PCM thanks to plenty of calcium (via gypsum) in the planting hole. PCM lasts 5 days in the vase.


  • slumgullion in southern OR
    22 hours ago

    @strawchicago z5, you should compile your knowledge into a book!

    strawchicago z5 thanked slumgullion in southern OR
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    15 hours ago

    PcDm is beautiful. Cant wait for mine to arrive.

    strawchicago z5 thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • rosecanadian
    13 hours ago

    Straw - oh my!!! Totally gorgeous!!! :) :)

    strawchicago z5 thanked rosecanadian