What's the answer? Well, my first choice would be RAIN, of course. But, seeing as how most of Texas is in an exceptional drought, my second choice is to counter the alkalinity in the soil. Adding sulfur, pine needles, coffee grounds, urea (yuck thought!), and acidic mulches / compost to my rose beds will at least provide acid into the soil, correcting the alkalinity issue to a certain degree.
I like this chart. It shows me the pH level for
different sources of water. I would rank my well water with the baking soda / sea water box. According to the chart, maybe I should water my roses with milk!
Another option is incorporating more older China roses to my beds. They can tolerate a higher pH level.
A normal summer in south Texas brings afternoon "pop-up" showers, which can dump an inch of rain in less than an hour. However, nine years ago, my family moved further inland, decreasing the number of coastal showers we receive. Still, south-central Texas usually receives summer showers, but not this year. Rain water is preferred by the roses because it generally has a pH level of neutral to slightly acidic.
At this point, the roses are going to have to settle for what I can give them. The bushes that do not survive, I will replace with Chinas, as they have proved to be the toughest so far.
My last option is to take out all my roses and replace with West Texas flora, which will most likely not happen. I can't imagine my gardens without roses. The thought makes me pout. I've visited West Texas, and they grow roses right along side of their yucca and agave. If they can do it, I can.
I also need to convince myself that losing a few is nothing to get my britches in a twist over. Just move on. Replant. Improve the soil, plant tougher varieties, and get over it.