Do My Roses Like Acidic Soil?

Roses thrive on slightly acidic soils. They can absorb the nutrients that they need to thrive, and they produce beautiful displays of flowers. You can make acidic soils more acidic by adding wood ash or compost. If the soil is too acidic, adding compost and ericaceous soil will help to balance it. This will produce soil that is more neutral or slightly acidic.

Maintaining the pH of the soil so it is suitable for growing roses long-term can be achieved with regular applications of mulch in the early spring and before winter, although mulch can be applied at any time of the year.

How To Test Soil pH for Your Roses 

A pH of 6-7 is ideal for rose planting. If your soil is too alkaline (pH 7.5) or too acidic (pH 7.6), you should test it. You will need to amend the soil (pH 6 and lower) before you plant.

Roses can be costly, so it’s a smart idea to buy them. Before planting, determine the pH of your soil. The best way to test the soil is to use a cheap kit.

Pink Roses in Garden

How to Maintain the Right Soil pH for Growing Roses

Once your soil is at the ideal pH, it’s easy to maintain it. If you have a regular routine of mulching your rose beds, it will be easier.

Adding mulch to rose beds can have many benefits, including increasing fertility and improving drainage. It also retains water and cools the root system during the heat of summer.

But it is important to make sure that the compost has been properly rotted after it has been fully incorporated.
The perfect solution is to decompose it in a slightly acidic or neutral state.

To maintain roses’ optimal soil pH, mulch should be added to rose beds at least twice per year.

The first mulch application should be made at the beginning of This spring has the additional benefit of keeping soil moisture in the hotter months.

The second application should be made in September for the summer months. Protect the rose’s roots from the cold to ensure they can continue their growth to establish over winter.

Apply the mulch to the rose base in a 2-inch thick layer. However, you should keep it at least 6 inches from the rose canes.

If rosewood that is higher than the ground is exposed for extended periods to moist material, it can cause wood rot. Allow some bear ground to be placed between the mulch and rose canes.

The mulch should not be buried in the ground. This could cause damage to the roots and disrupt the soil ecology.

Always spread mulch on the surface. Microbes and earthworms will naturally incorporate the mulch into the soil.

To maintain soil pH use a mulch that is quick to decompose. This includes garden compost, leaf mold, or horse manure. It will become part of the soil and can be used over the year to keep soil conditions optimal.

Avoid using organic material that takes too long to decompose, such as pine needles or wood bark. These types of mulches take longer to decompose and can be difficult to incorporate into the soil for years. They have less impact on maintaining the optimal pH of your roses.

How to Modify Alkaline Soil For Your Roses

If your garden soil is especially alkaline, roses won’t grow (more than pH 7.5). 

To balance soil that is high in alkalinity, start by adding ericaceous soil. this is available at garden centers and has an acidity around pH 5.

It is rare to find soils with high alkalinity. It is more common to find slightly alkaline soils with pH levels between 7.5-8.

If your soil falls within this range, the most effective treatment is possible to add lots of organic matter to your rose
You can lay it down and dig to a depth of 15 in. You can either manually dig it in or use a tiller, which requires less labor.

Once the garden compost has been fully rotted, it will either be pH neutral or slightly alkaline, which makes it ideal for roses.

Keep in mind the depth and origin of the rose’s root so you can dig in your compost or ericaceous soil up to a depth 15 in.

After you have applied the soil amendments, you need to test it regularly to ensure that the soil is within the right pH range for roses (between pH 6 and 7).

Give the soil time to settle before you test it. Continue testing the soil for three months to ensure it is in the right range to grow roses.

It is possible to convert alkaline soil into slightly acidic soil by trial and error, as each garden is different.

As long you test your soil for any amendments and adjust your strategy accordingly, you will eventually have balanced soil that is slightly acidic. This soil should be perfect for growing roses.

How to Amend Overly Acidic Soil for Your Roses

If you have determined the pH of your soil in your garden is below pH 6, you’ll need to adjust the soil to ensure that roots are healthy. The roses can take up phosphates, potash, and nitrogen with ease. For healthy growth and good flower displays, it is also necessary.

Changing the pH of the soil is a slow, continuous process. This will mean that you’ll need to retest frequently.

If your soil pH is lower than 5, you can balance the soil’s acidity by adding garden lime. Garden lime can be purchased online and at well-stocked garden centers. In winter, garden lime should be applied to rose-planting areas.

It is easy to accidentally overdose an area and then raise the pH too far beyond the alkalinity range (over pH 7) so do follow the manufacturer’s instructions. 

If your soil pH is 5 or higher, add wood ash and compost to the rose-planting area. Then till or dig the compost into the soil to a depth 15 in.

As wood ash is naturally alkaline, it can be used as a natural remedy for overly acidic soils. It is great to have ash from indoor fireplaces and bonfires, but it is best to avoid ash from charcoal or coal from barbecues. These substances can cause soil damage and may pose a threat to soil structure.

Garden compost can also be pH neutral (if slightly acidic), so it will help decrease acidity, add fertility, improve soil structure, and stimulate soil ecology. This will all promote healthy rose growth.

Mix 2 cups of wood-ash and compost together, then dig the mixture into the soil to a depth 15 in.

You must dig the amendments in the soil to the depth indicated. This will allow for the full maturity of the rose’s root system.

Leave the soil to ferment for at least a month before testing. Repeat test the soil once a month for 6-7 pH. Then, plant your roses.

Removing soil that is too acidic is not an exact science. It requires trial and error and constant testing for three months.

If you’re unsure, you can always add ordinary garden compost to balance your soil pH.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)