tea roses and low pH

Asked June 26, 2017, 2:56 PM EDT

Friend bought 3 hybrid tea roses. I had soil tested and soil had 4.7 pH. Gave friend a bag of Gardener's Lime by Espoma (I think). She applied, waited a few days, transplanted roses in ground with some Leaf Gro and Organic Plant starter mix by Garden Elements (4-6-2 and calcium and a tad of sulfur). Five or six weeks later and here we are with one chlorotic almost dead plant and no root growth, one plant 50 -60% chlorotic with the other 30% fairly green and one green plant. The 3 were each in 3 gallon containers when purchased and had buds and blooms -looked good and healthy. They were planted about 3 ft apart from each other in a line in a sunny bed by the den window. I had the soil tested on the 2 flagging ones today. The worst one had a pH of 4.8; the half expiring one had a pH of 6.7. I did not test the good one. So, I pulled out the worst added 2 qts of Leafgro to the hole and mixed well, mixed all the soil down to 12 inches really well, replanted, and added 4 tbsp of the Espoma lime to the top. To the next worst I left the plant in the ground but added 2 qts of Leafgro to the area on the side where it was ailing down to 12 inches or so, mixed the surrounding soil really well, and added 2 tbsp Lime to the ailing side, scratching it in 2-3 inches in the top of the soil. On the growing side I left it alone. The nutrient uptake number on both was .48 (probably the starter mix) and I was told to not add any fertilizer for a month - the problem was the lime. When I finished I gave the owner instructions to water in well and suggested a pH test kit. The owner is also to prune back the ailing limbs and give the plant a chance to rejuventate. Should I have done, should I do something differently? Can we salvage this lady's roses? Since I have no way of knowing if the application of lime is enough or, for the half ailing one, too much, should the roses simply be pulled out of the ground and held in pots. The owner does not want to do that...... Let me know?

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

How did you test the soil? pH meters can be notoriously inaccurate and we always suggest having a professional soil test done.
Here is our soil testing page that explains the process, and has a list of regional labs who can complete the testing for you: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing
We would only suggest using lime if a professional analysis suggested that you should, and then, carefully as per label instructions.

The addition of organic matter, in this case Leaf Gro, is always a great idea.
Test the soil and tell the lab what you are growing.
You didn't mention how your friend is caring for the roses, which could impact them as well.
There are accredited rosarians from the Maryland Rose Society who help people with growing roses.
Check this link for a couple who would likely serve your area: http://www.colonialdistrictroses.org/id3.html