Roses Are Plants Too!

Planting Roses where roses used to be. Do you have to remove all the old soil??

Man standing in area ready to plant roses
One of the keys to planting roses in soil where roses used to be is lots of compost!  In this case aged horse manure.
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses

You may have read, or heard, somewhere that you should never plant a rose in soil where other roses have been. The reasons cited are because the new roses won’t do well and may even die.

There are mixed feelings about this with some people saying it’s true and some saying it isn’t.  We’re not going to get into that debate here, but we are going to recommend you do a few things if you plant roses in soil where roses used to be simply because they are good ideas anyway!

The old method of dealing with rose replant disease was to remove all the old soil and replace it with fresh soil.  I am guessing whoever came up with this idea was able to hire someone to do it.  I can tell you they didn’t live where I do with heavy red clay!  Luckily there is a much easier method.

It has been proven that roses treated with mycorrhizal fungi thrive in soil where roses used to be.

Mycorrhizal fungi have a symbiotic relationship with plants.  Essentially they help the plants take up water and nutrients, while also acting as a buffer against certain harmful microbes and pathogens that may have been left behind by the roses that used to be there.  By using mycorrhizal fungi there is no need to replace the old soil.

Mycorrhizal fungi are applied by either brushing them on the roots before planting, adding them to the planting hole or by dipping bare root roses in a liquid form.  How you apply it will depend on if you are planting bare root or container roses and which method you feel is easiest.  You can purchase mycorrhizal fungi from some local garden centers or on the internet.  Simply tell them what you are doing and then decide which method is best for you.

The other key to making sure this works is to understand that mycorrhizal fungi need organic matter and nutrients to do their job.  That is why the other thing you must do when planting roses in an area where roses used to be, is to add lots of well rotted manure and/or compost.

And lastly remember this.

Never use chemical drenches or those chemical all in one rose fertilizers because they will kill the beneficial fungi in the soil.

So if you are worried about rose replant disease, or even if you aren’t, the simple steps we’ve outlined are a good idea regardless.  They will truly enrich your soil and thereby your roses.

Here are a few rules of thumb:

  1. Add lots of well rotted manure or good garden compost to the soil.
  2. Treat the new roses with mycorrhizal fungi either by brushing it on, putting it in the hole or soaking the roots in them.
  3. Never use chemical drenches or all in one rose treatments because you can harm the soil.


Happy Roseing

View Comments


  1. FrozenRoses 01/06/2012

    I would be interested in seeing the studies that state that "old rose discease" is a result of a lack of the proper mycorrhizal fungi. This would certainly put to bed one of teh long standing questions as to whether it even exists

  2. PFZimmerman 01/06/2012

    I've read a few and will try to find some links to them. I also several large gardens who have treated existing soil this way when turning over beds with great results.

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  4. user-7007162 08/23/2014

    "mycorrhizal fungi, and roots". well so far so good, yes they do have a working relationship that much is true. but as is so often the case connections are being made that have almost no truth. the higher the nutrient status (with a upper limit ) the more vigour the plant has, the more vigour the more nutrients required. the more organic matter the more food in the soil for roots to access, but to break down organic matter Nitrogen is needed, and often it is limiting so OM is broken down slowly, too slowly for plants to display vigour. orhanic phosphate 'rock' that is chemically treated with organic chemicals to release the phosphate, and then blended with other nutrients and applied at reccomended rates will not and does not kill soil life. in fact it enhances soil life as a result of plant shoot and root activity. mycorrhizal fungi and many other 'soil life' are free living and plentiful in your spoil, and certainly in your compost; do not waste your money purchasing something that proports to increase said when applied at rate of 1/2 teaspoon to m2.. Actually there are laws against this sort of false advertising.

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