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All of my new rose bushes died

Posted by avian z9 So. CA (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 11:54

I have never had this happen before but last year I planted about 5 new rose bushes and every one of them died within a few months of planting. I bought them from 3 different places so I don't think it was the quality of the plant. I believe they were all in 3-5 gallon containers, not bare root. Even put new soil down and planted them as I usually do. In the past I may have lost one newly planted rose bush but never all of them. I can bring 3 of them back for exchange/full refund with receipt and would like to purchase new bushes but before I do that would like some suggestions as to what might have happened. I know that there are cats that have been going through the backyard and probably peeing so was thinking maybe this killed my roses. I even lost a few of my rose bushes which had been established for several years. I did not see any signs of disease or pest infestation.

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Did you fertilize at planting? I've most often killed good plants by putting on too much granular fertilizer at once and/or not being sure to keep them well watered afterwards.

Or perhaps herbicide drift? Are they near a property line where a neighbor might be spraying Roundup?

Or, last, top-of-the-head guess--are the expired plants in a definite line?, like over a plumbing main that could be leaking? Sometimes there's something going on underground. Perhaps burrowing critters like gophers, also.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

I check constantly with a moisture meter. It has been extremely dry here so I would guess that dryness had something to do with it. Either the roots were dried out when you planted them or you didn't water enough afterward. Back in Ct I never planted in the hot dry mid-summer but here we plant routinely under these conditions. They have to be kept moist which is why soil conditioning here is so important.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Avain, all of the previously asked questions are good, but much more information is necessary to even begin suggesting why your roses died.

Your profile says you live in Zone 9, Southern California. Which city, please, and what is the approximate construction date of your home? Is it in a larger tract where the earth is likely engineered to provide seismic stability? That can make tremendous difference as far as drainage and the soil's ability to absorb and hold water.

Were these plants installed close to a concrete wall, patio, drive or walk, or were they out in a bed in the lawn? Were they watered with the sprinklers, by hand or on a drip type system? How does the water applied to any lawn or planter areas drain? Is it toward where the roses are planted or away?

Did the plants turn black, or did they simply dry up, turning beige? Did you notice any unusual smells from the soil balls when you removed them? You state you "added new soil" when you planted them. What kind of soil did you add and how much?

If your home was built in the past two decades, particularly if it is part of a large subdivision, by state law the soil is engineered, compacted in to a stone like consistency to provide for seismic stability. That's great for safety but horrible for gardening. It compresses the soil particles into stone, leaving no place for water to go and nowhere for the soil to store it. I recently investigated why a five gallon Euonymus failed in a friend's planters in engineered soil. Everything I was able to excavate from that hole was BONE dry. Absolutely no moisture in the soil at all. The plant failed because the sprinklers were relied upon to keep the shrub watered and the surface of the soil looked damp, but there was no moisture IN the soil. I've also observed holes excavated in that stuff where water was over applied or ran off into the holes, creating buckets where it could only either be used by the plants or evaporate out and the plants drowned. Adding anything organic in such a situation is like plugging the drain hole in a pot, then planting in it. The organic material, when kept under standing water, forms hydrogen sulfide, the "sour" smell from pots and backed up drains.

If the soil drains well and sprinklers were used to keep the newly planted plants watered, it's entirely possible they dried up. If water drains into the area and the soil is engineered, they may have drowned. If they were planted too near large expanses of concrete, it's possible the extra heat helped dry out the plants before their roots were sufficiently established to support them in the increased heat. There are many possibilities, including the fertilizer suggestion above.

Might you have taken any photos of the plants before removing them? Those might help if you could share them. Kim


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Avain, all of the previously asked questions are good, but much more information is necessary to even begin suggesting why your roses died.

Your profile says you live in Zone 9, Southern California. Which city, please, and what is the approximate construction date of your home? Is it in a larger tract where the earth is likely engineered to provide seismic stability? That can make tremendous difference as far as drainage and the soil's ability to absorb and hold water.

Were these plants installed close to a concrete wall, patio, drive or walk, or were they out in a bed in the lawn? Were they watered with the sprinklers, by hand or on a drip type system? How does the water applied to any lawn or planter areas drain? Is it toward where the roses are planted or away?

Did the plants turn black, or did they simply dry up, turning beige? Did you notice any unusual smells from the soil balls when you removed them? You state you "added new soil" when you planted them. What kind of soil did you add and how much?

If your home was built in the past two decades, particularly if it is part of a large subdivision, by state law the soil is engineered, compacted in to a stone like consistency to provide for seismic stability. That's great for safety but horrible for gardening. It compresses the soil particles into stone, leaving no place for water to go and nowhere for the soil to store it. I recently investigated why a five gallon Euonymus failed in a friend's planters in engineered soil. Everything I was able to excavate from that hole was BONE dry. Absolutely no moisture in the soil at all. The plant failed because the sprinklers were relied upon to keep the shrub watered and the surface of the soil looked damp, but there was no moisture IN the soil. I've also observed holes excavated in that stuff where water was over applied or ran off into the holes, creating buckets where it could only either be used by the plants or evaporate out and the plants drowned. Adding anything organic in such a situation is like plugging the drain hole in a pot, then planting in it. The organic material, when kept under standing water, forms hydrogen sulfide, the "sour" smell from pots and backed up drains.

If the soil drains well and sprinklers were used to keep the newly planted plants watered, it's entirely possible they dried up. If water drains into the area and the soil is engineered, they may have drowned. If they were planted too near large expanses of concrete, it's possible the extra heat helped dry out the plants before their roots were sufficiently established to support them in the increased heat. There are many possibilities, including the fertilizer suggestion above.

Might you have taken any photos of the plants before removing them? Those might help if you could share them. Kim


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

  • Posted by avian z9 So. CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 11:59

Thank all you for the replies. The soil is very rocky but I did add fresh soil when planting. No fertilizer was added. The roses were planted in different areas of the backyard. Three in a raised planter and two on the level ground in two different areas. I am considering that it may have been the extreme heat and not enough moisture. The new roses were replacing some established ones that had died. Don't use sprinklers, just hand water. I had the established roses for many years so was surprised when they died whereas other established roses continue to flourish.

A moisture meter might be a good idea. Are there any recommended ones and what moisture values would be acceptable?

Roseseek, I live in the East San Gabriel Valley area but my home is more than 2 decades old. Did not take any photos before planting. The plants just dried up and died. Didn't do much different than I have in the past when I've planted roses and never had this happen before. I believe I used Miracle-Gro moisture control potting mix. Maybe it was the Miracle-Gro. I think my neighbor used it and didn't have a problem.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Yeah, the droughty weather has killed even well-established plants.

Maybe use extra care to make sure your plants are truly saturated down deep. As Kim mentioned, sprinklers sometimes fail to fully irrigate down deep. Miracle-Gro is a fine mix but it has lots of peat & once peat dries out it's very hard to get soaked again.

A useful practice for me is to hose-water thoroughly across the yard, then to repeat the circle & re-water. Or I'll water in evening & again in the morning. And mulch, mulch, mulch on top once you've got the soil good & moist.

Hope you're getting rain. Our last paltry inch was in Dec.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

I have moisture meters permanently in place in both of my rose gardens and I watch them like a hawk. The tip is about ten inches down. I also spot check around the gardens and my potted plants. The meters read from dry to moist to wet and you obviously want moist. Interestingly, we have gotten several inches of rain today and the meters haven't moved. Ten inches down the level of moisture hasn't yet changed so you can see how dry everything here really is.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Has anyone mentioned that it is a bad idea to add fertilizer to newly planted roses until their roots are established enough to push out new growth? I wonder if the "fresh soil" you used was the culprit. All these bagged potting mixes seem to contain fertilizer these days - so hard to find any without. I've even seen bags of perlite with added fertilizer! And I've NEVER seen any Miracle Gro bagged products sans fertilizer. Next time I would use compost instead to mix with the native soil and see if you have different results.


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

I am no expert but I lost a newly planted rose this last summer to excessive heat, maybe when you get the new ones you could look for some drought resistant varieties


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

  • Posted by avian z9 So. CA (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 3, 14 at 14:21

The fresh soil was not used for my established roses so I do think it was the heat and the roses just couldn't deal with it, even the ones I have had for many years.

Does anyone have recommendations for a good moisture meter?

Thanks again to all for the advice. I will get a moisture meter and also check into drought resistant varieties. At least we got lots of rain Friday and Saturday. :-)


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RE: All of my new rose bushes died

Avian, I don't know how much difference there will be between roses budded on a common root stock. Generally, I've found harder pithed varieties to be more more water stress tolerant than those with softer pith. Also, the harder the pith, harder the wood, the more sun scald resistant the rose. But, bud them all on the same root stock and they are probably going to be similarly "drought resistant". The softer wooded types will likely sunburn more easily, but the plants in general, should be about the same as far as "drought resistance". Kim


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