Roses for clay soil
Rose plants will thrive on clay soils that have been improved with plenty of well rotted organic matter such as compost, leaf mould or bark chippings. Whilst clay soils can be heavy and a little harder to work, they contain a high level of nutrients and minerals that roses need to flower at their best. On heavy clay its particularly important to mulch your roses annually to help ease soil compaction and increase drainage so the roots don’t become waterlogged. You don’t need to dig mulch in – worms, insects and microorganisms will help take the material down into the soil for you. Applying a thick annual mulch in this way may take a few years but be consistent with it for best results, making sure to keep mulch 6cm (2 inches) away from the stems of your roses each time you mulch to avoid any issues with infection and disease.
Roses do require lots of water but equally they need well draining soil as the roots are susceptible to root rot, so trying to garden on heavy clay soil that naturally “puddles” and lies wet without first improving the composition is unlikely to produce good results. Avoid walking on clay soils when they’re wet to avoid compacting your soil and making it even heavier. Instead, use wooden boards to spread your weight as you move around the borders. Always follow the golden rule of never digging or planting when the ground is frozen or waterlogged and before the start of the winter, leave the soil surface in ridges so the frost will help break up the clumps for you.