Don’t Choke Your Roses

Even if your roses have good drainage, they will still suffocate if you have too much clay in your soil. Too much clay can kill your roses. When the clay dries, it hardens tightly around the roots, suffocating them.

The roots of all plants need room to to breathe, and this is especially true of roses. We already discussed, in the post above, how your roses’ roots don’t like to get too wet. See, rose roots need good circulation. Not too much air around them, but a porous soil with some air pockets. This allows the roots to stay drier and move around, when there is not a lot of soil weighing heavy on them. That’s why light fluffy soil is far better than the dense, clay-like soil found in most yards. Soil like this is called compacted soil.

Solid soil

Compacted soil happens when the soil is too close together to allow any air in.  Soil compaction occurs when their is too much dense material (like clay) in your soil, but it also happens when your garden is tromped on. Every time you step on the soil, you cause it to press together, packing it down tightly. Some traffic is natural, but over time, too many visitors marching on your front yard leads to soil compaction.

Imagine a sponge and it’s cells. When you press on a sponge, those cells squish together, and all of the water squeezes out. That’s how compacted soil is—stepped on often enough, the “pores” in the soils compact, making it difficult for the roots to move and breathe; they suffocate.


The solution to compacted soil is to get lots of of healthy air pockets in your soil. Now, you don’t want too many air pockets–then your soil will shift down low when you water (causing compaction, and defeating your purpose). And you don’t want the air pockets to be too big around the roots, because you need to keep at least some soil right around the roots so they are not exposed. The perfect soil will have micro bubbles of air interspersed in the soil. This is called “aeration”. When you have the right size of air pockets spaced the right distance from each other, than you know that you your soil is properly aerated.

So, how do we achieve this perfect, non compacted soil? In other words, what is the formula ? Read on my friends.

Published in: on September 15, 2007 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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