Best soil for roses

My garden has a lot of clay in it. Will roses be able to grow well in my soil?

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Most plants will struggle in clay soil and so will roses, but there are options. You can add amendments to your soil such as organic matter and expanded shale or you can consider raised beds for growing your roses which requires you to build up the soil with a soil mixture made for raised beds that you can purchase in bags or in bulk. I hope this helps. :rose:


Thank you! I have had great success with adding fresh compost to my soil this year.

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The answer to any issue with either sandy soil or clay soil is to apply organics such as compost. However you do not need to incorporate it into the soil. Apply as a mulch or top dressing and let the earthworms do the work for you.


There was a reference in the March 2023 American Rose about soil composition. 1/3 rose soil (little vague on what this is), 1/3 compost, 1/3 expanded shale. To get the loose soil composition that the roses need, is the expanded shale superior to sand? I will be putting in new rose beds soon and will be able to start with the best mix, including fixing the soil down a ways.

Expanded shale must be location specific, I am in western Oregon and have never heard of it. Here’s an article on it:,a%20lighter%2C%20more%20porous%20structure.

Putting in new rose beds… are you making raised beds? How deep? Or just amending existing soil? We have clay in our area, some worse than others, I have always used compost, lots of it, well mixed in as deep as I can get it. If I need a “looser” soil I will add bark nuggets, mix them in well, they are large so break down more slowly. By the time they do, I think they are well mixed into the clay.

Thank you for the reference. It actually does sound good, just need to price it for a large area. To your question, I am designing on paper right now, but will start installation later this year. I am on good Kansas farm land so decent top soil. I plan to amend down about 12" (depending on if this is by hand or machine) and raise up about 8". That should give me a reasonable depth for rose roots and companion plants. Since this is a new house, hopefully I can leverage machine-assisted soil prep before we install the irrigation.