It was one of my Dad's great passions, growing roses.  He was never extremely successful but then he didn't have the help of the Master Gardeners at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County.

The most important thing when it comes to roses, and growing nearly anything is the soil. The Master Gardener Volunteers say having the proper pH level is key.

Roses do well in soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. If your pH is too low or too high, your roses will not obtain the necessary nutrients they need from the soil.

To adjust the ph levels, add sulfur if it's too high, "pour a cup of sulfur around the drip line of your rose bush."  And if it's too low, add "a cup of limestone and scratch into the soil."
Cornell offers soil testing and other diagnostic services.

Proper feeding is important too. To feed roses organically, "use a mixture of alfalfa meal, blood meal, bone meal, and kelp meal four or five times early in the season.

You can also call the Horticulture Hot Line on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon at 736-3394.

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