The Q&A Archives: Rock Rose buds falling off

Question: I have three rock rose bushes that were planted last summer. This spring they are full of blooms, but the blooms are turning brown and falling off before opening. I've fertilized them with an all-purpose fertilizer three times since March and water about every third day. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: Rock Rose is one of those heat loving, drought tolerant plants that do well on poor, dry soils in full sunshine. I think you're overwatering and overfertilizing your plants. Don't apply any more fertilizer (too much nitrogen can burn plant roots and can also promote the development of lush green growth at the expense of flowers). Instead of watering every third day try deeply soaking the soil only once each week in hottest weather. Apply water slowly so it has a chance to trickle down and wet the entire root mass. You can check the soil moisture by watering as usual and then waiting 3-4 days, digging a hole near the stem of your plant and seeing how wet or dry it is. If the soil is still moist 3-4" beneath the soil surface, you won't need to water for a few days. If it's dry, it's time to water. If it's soggy wet, the drainage needs to be improved. Hope this information helps you get your plants back on track so you can enjoy their beautiful flowers!

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