Clay soil, struggling with rose bushes lasting more than 2 yrs. Do all the things suggesting about water, fertilizer, etc. Have replaced roses with knock out roses. Any suggestions or harder rose bushes?
I would dig out the clay soils at least 20 to 24 inches in diameter and 18 to 20 inches deep and replace with a good gardensoils mix such as some the EKO brand sells. Hopefully they have these bagged soils at Home Depot or a Lowes near you. Place about two inches of 3/4" gravel in the bottom of the planting holes, then cover with landscape fabric. Now fill the planting hole with the new bagged soils and the rosebush. Feed the rosebushes with a good organic based rose food, such as Gro-Rich Rose and Perennial Food. You can also get some Moo Poo Tea Bags and Alfalfa Tea bags from Annie Haven at Haven Products, make up some tea and give some to each rosebush, it gets them to growing nicely and builds the soils home. Adding some root stimulator and super thrive to their normal waterings will help as well. There are some roses developed by Dr. Griffith Buck called Buck Roses, they are very hardy and tough. I love one of his called Distant Drums. Do a search on line for Haven Products or Moo Poo Tea to find the tea bag products and a search for Buck roses too.