Roses forum→Favorite rose fertilizer, and organic vs. non-organic

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Name: Rosemary
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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reh0622
Feb 6, 2020 2:29 PM CST
I am interested in your protocol for beautiful, healthy rose bushes when it comes to fertilizer. Do you use a non-organic one application lasts for the growing year, or an organic one that you apply several times, inbetween bloom flushes? Also, what is the nitrogen-potassium-potash analysis that you favor. Thank You! for you input!
Name: Ken Wilkinson
N.E. GA. (Cornelia) (Zone 7b)
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KenNEGA
Feb 6, 2020 8:05 PM CST
I've been growing roses for a few(?) years and have tried every fertilizer you can think of. For me and my garden, I have found that my roses like a combination of organic and non-organic fertilizers. In early spring (March) I throw down a shovel full or two (depending on the size and age of the bush) of Black Kow on each bush plus a hand full of Milorganite. April thru Sept. I put down about 3/4 cup of 10-10-10 with trace elements around each bush on the 1st of the month. The middle of April and the middle of Sept. I give each bush 2 gals of Fish Emulsion. Anything in pots get 1/2 of what my roses in the ground get. Don't forget to water. Water is the life blood of your roses.
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It's a rose!!! It has nothing to do with life and death.
Name: Rosemary
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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reh0622
Feb 6, 2020 10:49 PM CST
It sounds like you feed your roses, well, Ken, and they look very healthy! Beautiful blooms and the foliage looks great, too!
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Feb 7, 2020 5:39 AM CST
My Roses really like tea, as in what you drink. Save teabags and scatter the leaves under the bushes and scratch them in, or pour cooled, unsweetened brewed tea at the base..
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
Feb 7, 2020 9:05 AM CST
I use a combo of things and am always trying new "stuff," to see how it does. My go-to is always good compost, Dr. Earth's Rose Fertilizer and a good 3 inch topping of mulch. I do use a little acidic fertilizer on everything as my soil is alkaline and my water is very, very alkaline. I think the acidic fertilizer really helps. Anything other than that is gravy, if I have time to apply it during the year.

I tend to fertilize in early March, very early May (if it is not too hot and I have the time) and again in October (if I have the time). My roses are dormant during June through early October as it is too hot here for them to bloom. They are just trying to survive. So no feeding during that time but if they need extra mulch to keep away any weeds or survive the heat (which is one of the reasons I have own root roses so I don't have to worry about a graft above the soil line), I apply extra mulch. Having everything on drip underneath the mulch, makes sure the water gets to the roots and not evaporate in the heat. My rosy roots have responded (as well as my trees) and the roots are going deep rather than spreading in a shallow circle around the plant. I can really see the difference if/when I have to pull anything out and replace it with something new.

Last year I tried alfalfa meal (not the pellets which can attract critters) and the roses responded fine with it. I also tried neem meal and never again. It was expensive, not sure it made any difference and it stunk to high heaven! I could not get that awful stink out of my nose for days!

I have used bat guano and earthworm castings in the past. Haven't tried to find bat guano recently but my roses do fine without it.

This was also during the era when I was trying to improve my soil from wretched to something decent. The earthworm castings usually contain some earthworm eggs so it helps to build up the earthworms in the soil. When I bought this house, there were no earthworms in the soil at all. I also could only put my shovel down about a half an inch and that was it. I had to use a pick ax to get anywhere (I often thought of getting a jack hammer or dynamite to try to break it up). Now my shovel goes down past the blade with no problem at all. I can't believe the difference.

What are my experiments for this year? Another dosing of beneficial nematodes to see if they help to get rid of those dreaded Hoplia beetles. My compost brand is new (since my beloved OSH is now gone and the big box stores here don't carry compost--no one does). So I am trying compost made from lobster shells, etc., from Maine this year. We shall see how it does.

My other experiment for the year will be using a liquid solution of the controversial Mycorrhizae fungi for the roots. I have my doubts about this one but am willing to give it a go and see how it does since I have quite a few rose babies this year. They are pretty much planted already which is why I am going for making the liquid solution of this stuff and spraying the soil with it.

So, (are you sorry you asked the question by the time you have gotten to reading this part of my post?), in thinking about it, I don't really "feed" my plants so much as I am constantly feeding the soil here. I figure good soil will feed my plants.
Name: seil
St Clair Shores, MI (Zone 6a)
Roses Garden Photography Region: Michigan
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seilMI
Feb 7, 2020 11:22 AM CST
I start out in the spring when I prune by scratching in some Rose Tone and a slow release fertilizer of some kind. Depends on what's on sale at the time. All the name brands are pretty good stuff. Then at least once a month I use a liquid foliar feed of some type with a fish emulsion added in for good measure. I don't stop in August. I found that whether or not I fertilized the roses kept right on growing until freeze. If you don't feed them they are using up any energy stores they have to keep growing and will have nothing left to use in the spring when they need it to come back.
Name: Dennis Brown
The Big Island, Hawaii
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kohala
Feb 7, 2020 12:48 PM CST
The folks at Heirloom Roses recommend that only fish emulsion be used the first year. Is this sound advice?
Name: Carol
Alberta, Canada (Zone 3b)
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Canadian_Rose
Feb 7, 2020 12:57 PM CST
I have found that for my roses (all grown in pots)...inorganic is needed. I did find that earthworm leachate and castings help a lot too. Last summer I tried to go all organic...it was the worst year my roses have ever had. I also use Alaskan Fish Fertilizer. I'm not sure which inorganic I'm going to use this summer.

BenT - I can't remember what the gorgeous middle rose is called...can you remind me?
Name: Ken Wilkinson
N.E. GA. (Cornelia) (Zone 7b)
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KenNEGA
Feb 8, 2020 8:26 PM CST
Carol---If you are talking about me, the middle rose is The Prince. The top photo is Louise Estes and the bottom one is Ring of Fire.
It's a rose!!! It has nothing to do with life and death.
Name: Carol
Alberta, Canada (Zone 3b)
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Canadian_Rose
Feb 9, 2020 12:05 AM CST
Oh, Ken, I'm sorry...it was your pictures. D'Oh! The Prince is the one that is gob-smackingly gorgeous!!! Lovey dubby
Name: Rosemary
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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reh0622
Feb 9, 2020 12:35 AM CST
Thank you everyone for sharing. Mustbnuts, what would you say makes up "good compost"? If you don't have enough of the homegrown variety, is there a particular bagged brand you like? Or ....? Thank You!
Zone 9, Sunset Zone 9 (Zone 9b)
Roses
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Mustbnuts
Feb 9, 2020 8:22 AM CST
Rosemary, I used to get bagged compost at Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). It was lovely. Friable. Organic. Beautiful stuff! No scent other than good earth smell. No plastic, no rocks, nothing in there that wasn't supposed to be there. My plants did great with it.

Now that OSH is no more (let's have a moment of silence for OSH), I have tried to find compost at other garden centers, big box stores, etc. Nada. Nothing! I think I finally found something at Lowes by Kellogg, but have not been overly impressed with their other products (compared to OSH's stuff). The only place I haven't tried to find compost is Tractor Supply. It is way across town and none are close to me. So, I don't know what they carry.

If I lived about 2 miles further east, the city next to me gives away free compost! You have to show your driver's license to prove that you live in the city in order to get some--and there is a limit. I have heard (and seen this in LA County) where the winery's give away free compost and have not checked out the HUGE Gallo plant that is here (and you can smell the crush all over town in the fall). I have heard that they do give it away for free and then I have heard that they don't. Unfortunately, I don't have a truck to go and get it.

SaveMart supermarkets take all of their old produce and ship it down to Bakersfield where it is turned into compost. They then give the compost away to parks, our Master Gardener program, etc, all over the central valley. Staff at our garden, state our plants do better with our homemade compost, but I think it is wonderful that SaveMart does this (rather than put it in a landfill) and gives it away (I am sure it is a tax write-off for them). When I have seen their compost, I think it looks great. Again, friable, rich and dark, quite lovely.

Elk Grove offers free compost https://www.elkgrovecity.org/U...

Name: Rosemary
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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reh0622
Feb 9, 2020 10:44 AM CST
Thank you, Mustbnuts for all that info. and your experience with compost! I have my own compost bin, but of course it's limited to how much it produces. I try to top dress my each rose plant with a qt. or so.

I called the city green waste and asked if I should dispose of "toxic" green waste in my regular garbage can, such as diseased leaves and branches, and they twice said "no", to put in into the green waste. I guess they are counting on the temp.of the materials reaching a stage where plant pathogens are destroyed, but it gives a gardener pause whether they want to take the chance of using it, in case the pathogens are not destroyed. Some store-bought compost seems pretty woody, and makes you wonder how good it is.

I really want to start my own worm farm. I have a worm factory kit I have yet to put to use. We are purchasing worm castings by the yard for the little public garden that I volunteer at.

And I think I can get some free aged horse manure for my own roses, I've read here from Arturo that is good for roses. But it all takes time and effort to round up!

My main fertilizing program has been foliar feed using a combination of fish emulsion and seaweed extract. I've had gorgeous roses, but also out-of-control weeds. And now, thanks to this site, my eyes have been opened to the diseases, both virus, fungal, and bacterial that my older roses are plagued with. Probably time to shovel prune some of them, but will I? Probably not. I do have the habit now of disinfecting my pruners between bushes for crown gall, and cuttings for canker.
Name: SoCal
Orange County (Zone 10a)
Lazy Gardener or Melonator
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SoCalGardenNut
Feb 9, 2020 1:35 PM CST
I can purchase horse manure compost here for $2 for a big bag, not sure exactly how many lbs, I pay extra 50 cent for the bag, if I bring the bag back, I get a refund.
I have 4x64 bins of worm compost. Mostly peels and vegs. My husband also buy chicken manure. I don't use the miracle grow fertilizer at all, even though I did buy one from Costco, sheer laziness was the reason.
2022 wishlist: Pastelorama, Pastelegance, and Blonde Vision.
So California (Zone 9b)
Roses Region: California Cat Lover Xeriscape Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
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JCBodie
Feb 10, 2020 9:40 AM CST
kohala said:The folks at Heirloom Roses recommend that only fish emulsion be used the first year. Is this sound advice?


It is, if you need the guarantee of replacement. They are very specific about that...if you use anything but fish emulsion in the first year and your plant doesnt't make it, they will not replace it for free. That said, I don't see my HR roses (that get fish emulsion exclusively) doing better than any of my other roses.

The largest local rose nursery in this area recommends GRO-POWER or GRO-POWER PLUS, which is what I use. Plus, I add alfalfa powder and epsom salts (yes, you read that last one correctly). You wouldn't think that "salt" would be something to give a rose (especially in the clay substrate here in SoCal), but my roses seem to like it. I've also done the "tea bag" thing, but with 175 roses I'd need to drink way more tea than I already do, so I don't think it is as significant of an additive for my roses.

On a final note, the owner of the local rose nursery once told me, you can pretty much use any good basic balanced fertilizer, as "roses don't know how to read and won't care about the N-P-K ratio.....they just want to feed, and they are heavy feeders". He said it is more important to feed at regular intervals.
So California (Zone 9b)
Roses Region: California Cat Lover Xeriscape Vegetable Grower Cactus and Succulents
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JCBodie
Feb 10, 2020 11:05 AM CST
KenNEGA said:I've been growing roses for a few(?) years and have tried every fertilizer you can think of. For me and my garden, I have found that my roses like a combination of organic and non-organic fertilizers. In early spring (March) I throw down a shovel full or two (depending on the size and age of the bush) of Black Kow on each bush plus a hand full of Milorganite. April thru Sept. I put down about 3/4 cup of 10-10-10 with trace elements around each bush on the 1st of the month. The middle of April and the middle of Sept. I give each bush 2 gals of Fish Emulsion. Anything in pots get 1/2 of what my roses in the ground get. Don't forget to water. Water is the life blood of your roses.
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Beautiful roses....what is the name of the last photo posted? L Thank You!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member Dog Lover Cat Lover Keeper of Poultry Keeps Horses I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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porkpal
Feb 10, 2020 1:20 PM CST
Ken said it was Ring of Fire, somewhere above.
Porkpal
Name: geislerf
USA
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geislerf
Sep 16, 2021 3:05 AM CST
The big three nutrients required by most plants (including roses) are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
Name: John Wagner
Virginia Beach, VA (Zone 8a)
I plant, I water, God makes it grow
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GardensJohn
Sep 16, 2021 6:33 AM CST
I choose to use Bayer 3 in 1 Rose Care for my primary fertilizer/fungicide/insecticide every six weeks. Then I supplement that with Espoma Rose Tone a couple of times during the season. Really seemed to work well with my roses this year.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life... (John 3:16)
Name: Rosemary
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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reh0622
Sep 16, 2021 1:12 PM CST
I found a book on organic rose care recently that said all roses need to thrive is a topdressing of compost each year and nothing else as far as fertilizers go.. I think that would depend on the source and composition of the compost and how much is being applied--as a top-dressing, or incorporated into the top couple inches, or as a several inch thick mulch (3"-6" at least in a 3' radius around the bush). John, I live in CA where there's a "green" policy wherever possible to protect beneficial insects such as bees and praying mantises, but it's getting harder with the arrival of chilli thrips which can kill the bush if the infestation is bad enough.

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