how do you amend your planting hole?

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

a good point was brought up on the Roses for Shade thread. we need a good, all-around thread for the planting of a rose, so c'mon everyone, give us your advice, your methods, your expertise...and don't forget to include what kind of ground you are working with at the onset.

Richmond, TX(Zone 9a)

I have clay soil. I dig a hole twice as wide and not quite as deep and fill hole w/ mushroom compost. Mushroom compost is the one readily me so that's why I use it. Have not lost a rose yet, they seem to love it. On newly created beds, I have topdresssed the area w/ 4-6" compost. W/ the top dressing the roses have even more nutrients available. I water the area thoroughly then put mulch around the base. I never let new roses go dry. The only time I almost lost a rose is 'cause I was neglectful w/ watering. I find fall planting is best, but have also planted in spring. No summer planting.

My two Parade minis are potted and I used compost for planting them. In the beginning they looked ratty, but this fall they have bloomed nicely.

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

I started out using 1/2 of my regular soil, which is clay and rocks. They other 1/2 was compost, and a little extra peat. My hole was a couple of feet wide and deep.
I later just mixed what was in the pots with the soil, because I was trying to hurry, and get them into the ground. I used bone meal also, either in the hole, or as a dressing at some point.
I have put down gypsum around all my beds and plan to do the rest of the yard as it may change to beds at some point. Right before the cold set in I took someone's advice and dressed the roses with some potassium crystals.
I have mulch and chicken wire cages, just on new guys.....mulch everywhere though.
Burlap around extreme wind areas.
We'll see????????

Jersey Shore, NJ(Zone 7a)

My starting soil is sandy which is great for drainage but not very rich. I add compost and alfalfa and till it in whenever possible. I did invest in some topsoil this year for the 2 new beds in front of the house and I think I might have been better off dumping in a lot more compost and wearing out the rototiller. Time will tell on that choice. I top dress with cedar mulch or more compost. The top dressing goes on heavy, 4 to 5 inches. I noticed in another forum about the mushroom mulch and Voss mentioned it too, so I'll keep an eye out for that this spring. And we can't forget the breakfast planting. Banana peels, eggs and coffee grounds. With Voss's supplement that would be a mushroom omelet and.... are our roses eating better than us?? :>)

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

I don't amend. I dig a hole, deposit a handful of gopher poison, drop a banana peel on top of that, and plunk the rose down into the hole.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

venu, lol! i was going to ask nery about that mushroom compost. i bought some last year and it makes such a soggy mess and at the same time, repels the water. i've always heard good things about it, but didn't have luck with the brand i bought.

nery, do you backfill with any of the original soil?

lol, leave it to zuzu to have such a beautiful garden and find that it's all built on poison bananas! LOL

This message was edited Dec 10, 2006 8:44 PM

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Zuzu: You must eat a whole bunch of bananas to have all those peels so readily available! A great source of potassium for the Roses (the banana peels not the gopher poison) .

My clay soil is just like Nikki described! Since I just planted my Roses from Merrygro today, I can tell you what I added to the planting holes. I throw in a handful of Gypsum, Cottonseed Meal, Kelp Meal, compost, and back fill with half of the original soil. Top dress with Epson Salts (is that the same thing as potassium crystals?) and shredded hardwood mulch.

Venu, our Roses are eating better than us!

Jersey Shore, NJ(Zone 7a)

Zuzu, you are too funny. Didn't you have a sprig headed for the "round file" that grew when it got dropped? The rest of us are jumping through hoops to root a cutting. But, on the other hand, I have no gophers.......;>)

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

I'm not home but the guy that works for me tells me that roses that I've received while I was away, appear to be topped with orchid moss. I'm not sure where they are from but have you all received roses packed with orchid moss?? He also told me that many of the roses are blooming and they smell great...

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Shirley, I never run out of banana peels. That's my breakfast of champions: coffee and a banana. I need the potassium as much as the roses do.

Venu, you wouldn't believe how many of my sprigs grow into roses. Sometimes I actually plant them vertically, but most of the time they're lying sideways on top of the ground and they grow anyway. It's a great help in countering the gophers. They can eat all the roots off a rose, and even the graft, but the rose usually comes back anyway. I have some roses that are 15 or 20 years old and they're still tiny little things. I think they get eaten once or twice a year and never get a chance to get big. Only two of the roses the gophers got this year are irrevocably dead. About 40 or 50 others were chomped ruthlessly and looked dead, but now they're producing new growth again.

The white rose climbing up the persimmon tree in this picture started out as pruning sprigs I dropped by accident.

Thumbnail by Zuzu
San Diego, CA(Zone 10b)

zuzu you are a riot.. banana peels and gopher poisen....

I usually do all amending in the winter here. i just started. This year I am trying lama poo..
I just went and got a bunch and it was free and mixed with hay too so i am spreading it all over and mixing some coffee grounds in too re acidify my soil then i put a nice top dressing over it. Im probably going over bored but i like dirt what can say.

As for my original hole, i dig a big hole and through in some compost and gypsm and super phosate and slo po mag and plop in my roses.

This message was edited Dec 10, 2006 7:13 PM

North Vancouver, BC(Zone 8a) will find out here on the south coast of Canada that we refrain from using Mush manure! Reason being, is that mushrooms are grown in a limy, limey-type soil, thus the rise in Alkalinity. Roses do well in a 6.5-7 pH more acidic medium.As far as amending soil prior to planting the rose.....only some compost, steer or animal manure(not Chicken........too much ammonia content!), a handful of Rock phosphate or Bonemeal per rose NO FERTILIZER of any kind for the first year. We want to develop a good strong root network, cause without that, there won't be much of anything above the ground. and water in well! When it comes to amending the soil I use a bonemeal or Alfalfa Tea throughout the garden in the early & late summer...on top of that, about two weeks later, mulching is in progress with a Hemlock mulch we purchase at our recycling station here. The rest is just maintenance! I have never use peat moss when planting....although some gardeners swear by it!! hpy gdng, California.........Elaine

Richmond, TX(Zone 9a)

yes, I do backfill w/ orig. dirt.
Track, about the mushroom compost, once I bought a couple of bags from Walmart and I had the same experience you did; it seemed to repel water. I had bought it to pot some plants and most of them died. So I have never bought it again.

Close to our 2nd home in Madisonville Co. TX, there is a mushroom grower, Monterrey Mushroom Co. Several times a year we drive there w/ our little trailer and load up. Their brochure says it is formulated w/ a mixture of wheat straw, poulty litter, urea, cotton bi-products, canadian peat moss, gypsum and lime. After mushrooms are harvested, this material is called "spent" and sold to the public for $12 a cu yd. They deliver but it is exhorbitant for a residential gardeners. Makes sense if you're a commercial grower, city landscaper, or the like.

The compost analysis is
moisture 55%
nitrogen 1.8%
phosphorus 1.1%
potassion 2.3%
calcium 13.8%
magnewsion .71%

don't exactly know what this all means, but the mixture is on the fluffy side and easy to work with. We usually let it sit for several months before actually using it. However, I have been known to use it hot with no ill effects. I also compost our leaves, neighbors grass clippings and kitchen scraps. I just do cold composting, not energetic enough to turn the pile for a hot compost effect. The cold pile takes about 3 yrs to be ready, but with 3 bins going in staggered stages I always have enough for each season. That mix is even better than the mushroom compost so I save it for my really special plants.

Zuzu, my little dog (he's a mess) loves to dig for banana peels so I can't do like you do.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

nery, how wonderful that you have that available to you. i think there is a mushroom farm close to me. i have to check it out. great tip!

he might be a mess, but he is a little doll!

Carmel, NY(Zone 6b)

At trackinsand's request, here's what I pulled from the MerryGro site...

General Planting Instructions - A Guideline
Date Posted: 06/01/2005 06:18:14 PM

Once acclimated to your home and environment your plants will be ready for transplanting into your garden or landscape. Here are some easy steps to ensure success.

1) Dig a hole twice the width and one and a half times the depth of the size of the root ball to be transplanted. Remove the plastic container surrounding the roots and discard.

2) Fill about 50% of the bottom of the hole with an equal combination of one part peat moss, one part cow manure, and one part organic top soil. Sprinkle hole with the correct quantity of an appropriate fertilizer. For roses and like shrubs, fertilizers with a balance of nutrients in the 12-4-8 range is ideal. Studies have shown that Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium in this 3 to 1 to 2 ratio is best. Look for a fertilizer with the chelated form of iron in its formulation. This will go a long way in adding to your plants success.

3) Plant the rose, shrub or perennial at a depth that has the soil surface of the root ball about 2 inches higher than surrounding ground level. The plant will sink in moderately as it settles in place.

4) Refill the balance of the planting hole with the mixture referenced above and firm the soil gently around the root system to eliminate air pockets.Water the plant thoroughly to ensure there are no air pockets surrounding the roots.

5) Cover root area using 2" of mulch. Cypress, pine bark, or eucalyptus mulches are excellent for this purpose. This will help protect the roots, control weeds and erosion, retain moisture and add a finished look to your landscape.

6) For the first 2-3 months after planting, physically check the root ball twice weekly for moisture (even after rains) to ensure a good supply of moisture. Sometimes, even after heavy rains, inadequate moisture has penetrated down to the roots. After the plant has become established, routine watering is required.

7) Routine fertilization with a 12-4-8 or similar fertilizer (every 6-8 weeks) during the growing season will ensure a constant supply of plant nutrients and great growth and health to your plants. Weekly liquid feeding of appropriate water soluble fertilizer will enhance plant performance considerably.

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

yea buddy! thank you!

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

I just did a silly thing - I looked on the back of the tag and there are the planting instructions. Duh.

(Zone 5b)

Well you asked....

How to plant rose by Cottage Rose:

1. Dig a hole the size of a Chevy extended cab pick up truck

2. Add the following to the planting hole...
1 cup of fish meal
1 cup blood meal (blood from Spring lambs only)
1 cup alfalfa pellets
1 cup superphosphate
1 cup bone meal tested free of mad cow disease
6 organic banana peels (chopped and diced with a sterilized knife)
1 cup garden lime
1 cup 12-12-12
1 cup potash
1 cup Osmocote
1 cup epsom salts
2 tablespoon kelp meal
5 bushel baskets of mushroom compost
1 pick-up truck load (long box) of composted Egyptian Arabian breeding stallion manure

3. Place rose on a pyramid shaped mound of soil while thinking positive thoughts and sitting in a lotus position.

4. Water with rain water collected in a chemical free barrel.

5. Re-fill planting hole with soil consisting of:
1 part sifted native soil
1 part peat from Northern Ireland
1 part rotted manure from organically fed Jersey cows from California.

6. Tamp down soil with $75. tamping tool from Smith & Hawken Ltd.

7. Cover soil with color and mold free wood chips, careful to not touch the rose.

8. Bi-Weekly spray with horticulture oil, anti-fungal and insecticide. Optional but benefical: monthy release $50. worth of imported Oriental Red Leaf Earthworms around base of rose.

9. Kneel next to rose and pray that it grows.

10. Go in the house and have a beer or two

Sebastopol, CA(Zone 9a)

Thanks, CR. I was dying to add that. If you hadn't come along, I would have had to dig up your old thread with those instructions. I already resurrected it once while you were gone last year.

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Cottage_Rose, you receive the Oscar, your fingers are honored with the best performance since I've been on the rose forum!! Outstanding. Can I believe a single word, lol!!!

(Zone 5b)

The scary thing is some people ~really~ do that! LOL

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Hey, that's what i love about roses, it's like a 12 step program, do what is tried and true and, ya get a just reward, sometimes. I love it, roses are fun!!! And, so are you, such an entertaining, clever post...

North Vancouver, BC(Zone 8a)

that's a good one, Cottage! E

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

hooray! you brought this back. i've heard it was hilarious and it is.....and to think that if i had read this a year ago, i would have taken you at your word! LOL

Wheatfield, NY(Zone 6a)

the heck with the rest of it. I want a pic of C_R in the lotus position sitting by that biiiig hole in the ground! /rotfl

where else can you have this much fun and get such good advice too. love you guys!

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

Geez... it's scary to think what C_R must go through to plant lotuses...

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Do any of you use newspaper around the roses when planting??

I've read that lime should be applied to established roses in Dec. Wonder if that's the thing to do in my zone, 8a?

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

Cottage~~ I just love that post, and was so glad to see you re-post it! SO funny, and the most funny thing is, I know there are people in my Rose Society that do this much and maybe more....and although the roses are nice, not that nice...LOL :-)Debi~~ This is another of your great ideas, an interesting thread and one to put up top in the Sticky for sure....It seems to me that there are as many ways to plant a rose, as there are rose growers! I am one of those who has very heavy clay soil and I find the roses I plant in a well amended hole do much better. I used to use a combo of whatever I had on hand....good organic compost, steer manure, Zoo-Doo - mixed 50% with the clay. In the bottom of the hole I put any good organics I had: bone, blood, kelp, feather, and/or alfalfa meals, alfalfa pellets, until I discovered this product (E. B. Stone makes one as well) which contains them all in one organic mix, it goes way down at the base of the hole 1-2 cups per rose bush. The roots don't get to this mix until 6+ months of growth and it's all organic so no root-burn problems. Here is a link to the product:

I also use the following product which has a guarantee against the rose dying if used at 50-50 with your own soil. If the rose dies when planted in their rose planting mix, they replace the rose no questions asked....I have had 2 replaced by them so can tell you they back this great product up! It Contains Fir bark, composted mushroom soil, composted chicken manure, Canadian sphagnum peat moss, earthworm castings, volcanic pumice stone, bat guano, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, gypsum, oyster shell lime and dolomite lime.

I like the rule " dig a $50 hole for a $5 plant"....I read it in one of Graham Stuart Thomas' books or articles and have sworn by it since. The only 3 roses I've lost were lost due to purchasing really poor quality plants, which is why I always buy from a rose nursery these days. I have never been let down by a rose grown well by a reputable rose nursery, even when they are tiny little bands....they just tend to do well when planted well. I'd rather pay a bit more for a good rose once, than pay less and have to buy it again. I do not have good soil to start with like dear Zuzu....and do spend a good deal of effort on the initial planting....but it pays off each and every time. After the planting I do not fertilize for the first 6 months, just Messenger to keep things healthy, and good quality organic compost as a top-dressing and mulch. At about the 6 month mark the roses roots have gotten into the good organic mix at the bottom of the planting hole and really hit their stride....I usually plant in fall and winter, and as I'm in a fairly mild climate they spend the whole fall and winter growing roots, so by summer they really take off! Many of the ingredients in the planting mix encourage good, healthy root growth, thus getting those roots well down into the clay and securing the rose for life. I have had to transplant a couple of roses planted this way....and the root mass was amazing!! When I had to remove about a dozen roses that came with this house, they were sickly and beyond recovery, the roots were nothing like the ones I found on the young roses I had planted well. Even after 5 yrs in their holes the sickly roses had so much less of the good, fine, feeder roots - it explained why they could not be saved no matter what I did that 1st year....poor quality roses planted in poor soil just couldn't thrive, period.

A very good thread, can't wait to read everyones posts!! Good job Debi for thinking of it!


Thumbnail by jamie68
SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Jam, I love your stuff. Tell me this - I have recently planted x number roses, maybe 12, and I have about 15 or 20 to go. The first roses were planted. say, three weeks or a month ago. We've had a week of freezing weather and they have all put on new leaves, some buds. So, how longs should I wait to 'feed' them??? Do you give your established roses lime in Dec?? TIA!!

mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

i think i've turned into the stickymistress! i'm obsessed with getting as much good information as possible onto that thread. this one will be in there soon.

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

tracks, good info is super. The problem is, finding the good info when it's needed - oh, yeah, that's why stickies were created...

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

debi~~ I am so glad you have such a good eye for what should go in that sticky!! It is turning into one of the best posts for a newer rose gardener to find out all kinds of good info! I would have relished something like that when i first started growing roses, and would have read, and re-read it! Thank-you for all the good work you are doing for all of us, and all those to come!

Sherry~~part one of your post - the feeding part. I don't feed mine at all, none, in winter! You want your roses to harden off what growth they have, in preperation for the long winter months. I don't know your climate, but even if they are budding or getting a few leaves, there is still a lot of cold weather coming, for most of the country at least, and the roses systems are way slowed down. I would hold off feeding until real spring is here, and know that any new leaves may well freeze and die off, but they will bud out and leaf out very quickly in spring.

As far as the lime, roses like the soil a bit on the acidic side, and I only use lime when i test the soil and find it really getting on the too acidic for good growth range. I add lime when my soil tests 5.5 or lower....but definitely not every year. We get a lot of rain in fall & winter so this can push the pH down quite a bit. But I think adding lime every year, or without a quick soil test isn't a good idea....soil tests are cheap, quick, and easy to find(any good garden center or nursery will have them) one from the area where your roses are growing, and only lime if needed.... Unless you have really acidic soil it shouldn't be needed.


Thumbnail by jamie68
SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Good info, jamie!!! Makes sense too. I find that the rose info I'm reading is general, not zone info. I have almost 'perfect' soil, it looks better than anything I've ever seen or bought. The best gardeners here add Epsom Salt in the spring and, that's about it. But, I read from the different nurseries that 'this' or 'that', should be added, most often, lime, in December. I'm making a trip to my local guru for instructions that relate to my area/zone and i appreciate you info, which has moved me to this direction. Thank you so very much!!!!!! I try too hard.

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

Oh Sherry, I do to - try to hard that is! I really want you to do a simple soil test though - they are so easy, and it will help so much. You just get some soil from a couple spots in the garden, mix with water and follow the directions on the box, super easy - only takes a couple minutes and probably costs $5-7 - and will tell you so much about what to add, or what not to worry about. If you do get one, post your results and I can help you with what to add, if anything!

And you are so very welcome....I am so happy to help!


Thumbnail by jamie68
mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

jamie, how far down do you dig for a soil sample?

Ellicott City, MD(Zone 7a)

Your Eden is soo beautiful!

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

debi~~ I get down a good 12-18 inches....mainly because I amend my soil so much, I have to get down a ways to get real soil. But I usually do sever samples, and include a teaspoon of soil from each 6-8 inches....the package has it's own set of instructions, but after doing the tests for several years thats what has yeilded me the best results. Let's say I'm digging a hole to plant a rose or tree/shrub, anything that takes a good sized hole. After moving the mulch/compost layer away, I take a tablespoon of soil and put it in a zip lock, 6-8 inches later another tablespoon, and so on down to 18 inches or so.... If I have enough vials in the test kit I test each layer, if not I mix it all up really well, and take one sample from the mix..... How's that for long answer to your short question? LOL Any other questions, please ask!

nikki~~ Thanks for the kind post! kell has this rose, and grows it better than anyone I have ever seen - she inspired me to grow this beauty! I have been really happy with it - very easy to grow and just blooms its little heart out all season!


Thumbnail by jamie68
mid central, FL(Zone 9a)

thanks, jamie!

Vancouver, WA(Zone 8b)

;o }

SE Arky, United States(Zone 8a)

Jam, my coop guy tested my pH, it is 6.5, I took 5 samples. I was there for lime too and he suggested:
aglime, Agri - Pel, pelletized calcitic, agri liming material

*Balances soil pH
*Promotes root growth
*Increases fertilizer efficiency
*Minimizes effects of acid rain
*Speeds organic decomposition
*Supplies calcium
*Increases microbial activity
*Neutralizes soil acidity
*Can be applied any season

Have you used it??? If so, how were your results??

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