How did your garden turn out this year?

As we move closer to fall it’s time to evaluate the work necessary for preparations of the next spring. The first question is, did you find beautiful blooms in your garden? Does the garden look complete, are you ready to focus on upkeep?

Personally, I’ve just begun. My roses came back thicker and positively more vibrant than the previous two years. I had a few tough lessons as I tried to maintain the 15 rose bushes the previous owner planted while prepping to sell the house.

It was clear the former owner did not care where the plants went nor the long-term health of the plants. With that being said, I ran into a few issues the past two years with the roses.

The first issue which occurred mid spring two years ago caused the roses to look dried out and unhealthy. This lead to poor blooming and what seemed like stunted growth. I asked around and visited a few local nurseries as I personally knew little about roses.

What I found, was pretty good and consistent advice from the local nursery’s. Many spent a lot of time with me walking through the location, soil, sunlight, and nutrients of the plant.

Initially, the nurseries advised checking the location of the plant to make sure they had ample sunlight, even indirect to make sure they hit their six-plus hours of light a day. Second, was to check the soil, was it overly compact and did the roses have proper drainage.

Low and behold, the soil was mostly clay which provided no moisture for the roses to bloom. This affected the roots ability to expand and minimized the flowers water retention.

I spent the next few weekends trimming back plants and foliage that would prohibit sunlight. Furthermore, a lot of my time was spent digging out and around the roses to remove large areas of clay.

After that, I thought all I could do was wait.

Fast forward to last year, and the roses did show an improvement. The mass of the plant and the roses looked healthier, however different areas of my yard (most with similar sunlight had very different results. It seemed as though some plants were still stunted and even some of the rosebuds themselves looked a bit burnt.

My impatient self, wanted this lush garden to happen immediately. I’m realizing (now) this is not how it works. At this point, I had joined Midwest Labs and understood I had the resources here to drive some good conversations about what the issues may be.

After explaining what I’ve done so far, they asked that I submit a few different soil samples to test the pH. The pH value would allow them to assess the situation and provide better feedback.

After submitting the analysis. The lab determined I had a low pH level in two locations. The low pH explains the burning look, and minor stunting of the roses “The low pH let me know it was too acidic for the roses to grow properly.” Now with that being said, it was only off by .4; however, I’ve been told .4 can be a significant variance for plants. The .4 was enough to fall out of the recommended pH range for roses of 6.3 to 6.8.

The solution for me was the addition of limestone, I was not familiar with which kind to use, so I asked the local nursery to recommend a limestone. I was told to try the dolomitic limestone which also ads magnesium to the soil.

Now, here in 2018 I’m excited to say my roses are what I expected them to be two years ago. I’m still full of questions as I’ve now moved on to a new section of my yard, (The Food Garden) but that’s a story for another day.

I’ve learned it’s essential to find out more about your soil. If you’ve never tried, I’d recommend giving a soil test a try. The more you know about the plants and appropriate conditions they require, the more vibrant your flower beds and gardens will be.

Learn more about our Garden Soil Test  or call us at 402.334.7770