What Compost Is Good For Roses?

Roses are beautiful, albeit finicky, plants common in gardens throughout the United States. While they’re a typical pick in gardens and flowerbeds, roses can be tricky to grow. The plant may grow but not bloom. Or, the entire plant may fail to thrive, eventually shriveling up and dying in your garden.  

Luckily, you can do a few things to encourage healthy growth and blooms: compost. Adding compost is a great way to promote essential components, such as water retention and adequate drainage, but if it’s done wrong, your plant might not flower. Here are a few tips and tricks for a successful rose garden.

Do Roses Need Compost?

The planting process is a traumatic experience for any plant, including roses. So, adding certain nutrients and additives can help support healthy growth and ease the transition. Compost is a helpful additive for newly planted roses for a few reasons. 

Compost is excellent for promoting moisture retention and adequate drainage. The combination produces a healthy growing environment for the plant, giving it a better chance of success. In addition, compost is full of nutrients, which provides the plant with ready access to necessary nutrients. In turn, this reduces the shock of being planted out, raising your chances of successfully growing roses. 

Of course, a few stipulations can affect this – if the compost is too alkaline or acidic, you might notice adverse effects, as the plant may not thrive. So, if you add compost, ensure it has a suitable pH. 

In addition, you might need to adjust the soil in your garden to accommodate your rose bushes. For example, clay soils, sandy soils, and loamy soils might require a bit of help to promote water retention and adequate drainage. Compost can help with these issues, but make sure the soil is at a proper texture to support healthy growth. 

What Kind Of Compost Is Best For Roses?

While adding compost to your rose bushes is an excellent way to promote healthy growth, you need to be careful with what you add. If the compost is too acidic or alkaline, the plant may not flourish. So, you must choose healthy, well-matured compost for your roses. 

Generally, the best compost to promote healthy growth is a well-matured compost with well-composted manure. You can use specialized compost to adjust the soil pH as necessary. Remember, most rose plants prefer a soil pH of 6.5, so make sure you keep the pH within this range. 

Your rose bushes should be fine if the soil is within a pH of 6.0 to neutral or 7.0. However, the best acidity level is 6.5 pH. The soil should never be more acidic than 6.0 pH, or your roses might not survive. While they’re tolerant enough to survive pH levels between 6 and 7, they can’t handle more acidic soil. 

If the soil pH is off, you can add specialized compost or other additives to correct it. Keep in mind that compost can affect the soil’s acidity (depending on what is in it), so make sure your compost isn’t acidic. Aside from compost, you can add bonemeal to the soil to aid in healthy stem growth. 

Ordinary Garden Compost

Many avid gardeners create their own compost at home via a backyard compost pile. Generally, home compost piles contain all sorts of scraps, including leftover food scraps (fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, etc.), leaves, grass clippings, animal manure (usually horse or cattle manure), and much more. 

With these additions and a few months, you’ll be left with a beautiful, dark, rich, well-balanced compost. Of course, the result can vary based on what you put into your compost pile, but as long as you maintain moderate additions of items that can mess up the pH, the result is ideal for roses. 

Most home compost piles produce a slightly acidic compost around a pH of 6.5, which is ideal for growing roses. As long as your compost is well-rounded with plenty of carbon and nitrogen, there should be plenty of nutrients to aid your rose plants. 

In some cases, you might want to consider adding a quick boost of additional nitrogen, such as a sprinkle of blood meal. That said, regular garden compost is often ideal for roses already in the ground. Remember, you’ll still need to give your roses supplemental feeding every now and again (as you would with any other compost for roses).

Ericaceous Compost

Ericaceous compost is ideal for roses growing in soil that errs on the alkaline side of the pH spectrum. This compost adjusts the pH of your soil to be somewhat acidic, which is where it gets its name, as it’s ideal for growing plants of the Ericaceae family, which prefer slightly acidic soil. 

If your soil is within the ideal pH range for roses, ericaceous compost isn’t necessary. If you add it to the soil within this range, it could make the soil too acidic. As mentioned, too acidic soil isn’t ideal for roses, as it can inhibit their growth and blooms. 

Mushroom Compost

You might wonder if you can use mushroom compost for your rose bushes. As long as your roses are well-established, mushroom compost is a suitable choice. However, if your plants are small or haven’t sprouted yet, don’t use mushroom compost. 

Mushroom compost is full of soluble salts, which can prevent seeds from germinating and burn seedlings or sensitive plants. So, if your roses are still small and not quite established in your garden or flower bed, stick with a different type of compost. 

When Should I Add Compost To My Roses?

Generally, it’s best to add compost in the early springtime before weeds start popping up. This is applicable if you’re adding compost in the form of mulch. Throughout the season, you should replenish the mulch layer as necessary.

In early autumn, add an additional layer of mulch before the first frost grips the ground. Don’t add mulch in late fall, as this can promote new growth in the plant that will be damaged in the impending cold snap. However, you can add a small amount of low-nitrogen fertilizer (such as bonemeal), as this will promote healthy root growth for the upcoming year. 

If you’re planting the roses, you should add compost at the time of planting. You should give established roses compost mixed with ½ cup of bonemeal in mid-spring to early summer as their first feed of the growing season. 

If you decide against using compost as a mulch, add a handful or two of compost every three to four weeks throughout the entire growing season.