By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
Roses need fertilizer, but fertilizing roses does not need to be complicated. There is a simple timetable for feeding roses. Keep reading to learn more about when to fertilize roses.
When to Fertilize Roses
I perform my first feeding around mid to late spring — the weather patterns really dictate the first feeding of roses. If there has been a string of good warmer days and steady night temps in the upper 40’s, (8 C.), it is safe to start feeding the roses and watering it in well with either my choice of chemical dry mix (granular rose bush food) rose food or one of my choices of organic mix rose food. The organic rose foods tend to do better once the soil has warmed up a bit.
Whatever I use to feed the rose bushes for their first feeding of the season is then alternated with another of those rose foods or fertilizers on my list for the next dry mix (granular) feeding. That next dry mix feeding is around the early summer.
Between the granular or dry mix feedings I like to give the rose bushes a little boost feeding of foliar or water soluble fertilizer. A foliar feeding is done approximately half way between the dry mix (granular) feedings.
Types of Rose Fertilizer
Here are the rose food’s fertilizers I currently use in my rotation feeding program (Apply all of these per the Manufacturers’ Listed Directions. Always read the label first!!):
Granular/Dry Mix Rose Fertilizers
- Vigoro Rose Food — Chemical Mix
- Mile Hi Rose Food — Organic Mix (Made locally and sold by local Rose Societies)
- Nature’s Touch Rose & Flower Food — Organic and Chemical blend
Foliar/Water Soluble Rose Fertilizer
- Peter’s Multi Purpose Fertilizer
- Miracle Gro Multi Purpose Fertilizer
Other Nutrient Containing Rose Feeding Items Added
- Alfalfa Meal — 1 cup alfalfa meal – Twice per growing season for all rose bushes, except miniature rose bushes, 1/3 cup per mini-rose bush. Mix into soil well and water in to help keep it from attracting rabbits that will then nibble on your roses! (Alfalfa tea is very good as well but also very smelly to make!).
- Kelp Meal — Same amounts as listed above for the alfalfa meal. I only give the roses this once per growing season. Usually at the July feeding.
- Epsom Salts — 1 cup for all rose bushes except miniature roses, ½ cup for mini-roses. (Given once per growing season, usually at the time of first feeding.) NOTE: If high soil salts problems plague your rose beds, cut the amounts given in half at least. Recommend using it every other year instead of every year.