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Soil Testing

At least once a year, you should have your rose soil tested. The soil-test report will tell you the levels of nutrients that are available to your roses. lt also will indicate the pH level (acidity or alkalinity) of the soil and the percent of organic matter it contains. You then can apply fertilizers (and/or an organic top dressing) to supplement what is there.


Texas A&M University will, for a nominal fee, give you a complete soil analysis. Soil-test kits, including instructions and mailing bags, can be obtained at no charge from any county Horticultural Extension Office in Texas.


A soil test in the spring can help you plan your feeding program for the growing season. Fall testing can help you plan for bed renovation. You should also test your soil pH on a periodic basis. Most (if not all) city and well water in the Austin area has a very high pH. Over time, your soil pH will rise to a point where some important nutrients are "locked up" - the nutrients are in the soil but unavailable to the plant.


Test kits for pH are available at most nurseries. Use granulated sulfur to correct a high pH (above 7.0). Use dolomitic limestone to correct a low pH (below 6.0). Follow the directions on the package for rates of application.