When To Start Fertilizing Roses?

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Roses need a great deal of fertilizer to survive and thrive, but timing is everything when fertilizing them. Applying high nitrogen fertilizer (5-1-2) early in the spring is a good idea for established rose bushes. 

Applying a top dressing of alfalfa meal is another way to deliver a boost of nitrogen to your roses. Extra nitrogen will help start the development of new leaves. 

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It’s also a good idea to work a bit of Epsom salts into the soil to help the new canes grow stronger.

To maintain optimum growth and bloom throughout the growing season, provide regular doses of either organic or inorganic fertilizer prepared for roses

Generally speaking, organic fertilizers are a better choice because they release nutrients slowly and steadily and help improve the quality and condition of the soil.

How To Fertilize When Planting Roses?

Follow packaging directions to amend the soil in the planting hole with a slow-release fertilizer product. Adding a small amount of bone meal will help ensure strong root growth. 

Once the rose is in place, sprinkle a bit of Epsom salts over the soil surrounding its base to support good leaf and cane growth. 

Fertilize monthly with fish emulsion to help your newly planted rose bush establish itself. 

How To Fertilize Established Roses?

Very early in the springtime, you will see new leaves beginning to emerge. When you see this, it is time to apply high nitrogen fertilizer, alfalfa meal top dressing, and Epsom salts, as described in the first paragraphs of this article. 

Fertilize monthly with a slow-release fertilizer formulated especially for roses throughout the growing season if planted in the landscape. Those in containers may need to be fertilized more often. Check these tips on fertilizing Knockout Roses.

How To Fertilize Roses In The Autumn?

You should not fertilize within six weeks of the first predicted frost. Instead, toward the end of August or early September, provide your rose bushes with a dose of bone meal or other slow-release fertilizer that is low on nitrogen.

How Do You Choose A Good Fertilizer Product For Roses? 

Generally speaking, organic fertilizers are preferable to chemical fertilizers for several reasons. 

First, organic fertilizers break down gradually and nourish your plants. 

Second, they tend to improve the soil and support beneficial fauna in the soil. 

Third, they are not a threat to the environment and will not burn your plants’ roots and stems. 

Prepackaged organic fertilizers are a bit more costly than chemical fertilizers, but for all of the benefits they convey, the cost is worth it. 

Even so, if you find organic fertilizer products a bit too expensive for your gardening pocketbook, you can save money by creating your own through composting and the use of individual organic products, such as: 

  • Seaweed Extract or Kelp Meal helps plants grow strong to resist disease and pest infestation. It can be applied monthly throughout the growing season. 
  • Fish Emulsion is an excellent all-around fertilizer for roses. Apply it monthly throughout the growing season along with Seaweed or Kelp. 
  • Alfalfa meal is a safe, inexpensive organic soil amendment that helps your roses produce vibrant green leaves and bountiful blooms. 
  • Epsom Salts are great tonics for your rose bushes. Apply it when you plant new roses or early in the springtime for established roses to get brighter, greener foliage, deeper colors in blooms, and strong cane growth. 
  • Bone meal is a natural, organic by-product of meat production. It releases nutrients gradually and improves soil quality. Work it into the soil surrounding your rose bushes early in spring and late autumn. Till it into the soil deeply to avoid attracting raccoons and other potentially unwanted visitors. 
  • Cottonseed meal is a by-product of cottonseed oil production. Like a bone meal, it releases nutrients gradually and can be added to the soil several times a year. It is a bit acidic, so don’t overdo it. You may need to adjust your soil’s pH if too much is used. The ideal pH for roses is 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Coffee grounds also add nitrogen to the soil. Therefore, it is safe to sprinkle them over the soil surrounding your rose bushes at any time during the growing season. Like cottonseed meal, coffee grounds are acidic, so keep an eye on your soil pH and adjust as needed. 
  • Livestock manure may be available to you, cheap or free. Add it to your compost and ensure it ages well before working it into the soil around your roses. 

Composting is a good way to use kitchen scraps and garden waste to create a nourishing, all-natural mulch or fertilizer product for your rose bushes and other plants. 

In addition, natural compost helps your plants build up resistance against disease and insect pests. When you create compost, do not include kitchen scraps (e.g., meat, bones, etc.) that might be attractive to raccoons, stray dogs, and the like. 

Time Of Day Is As Important As Time Of Year When Fertilizing Roses

No matter what type or combination of fertilizer products you use, apply them at cooler times of day, and be sure to water them when you apply them deeply. 

Water helps fertilizer products disperse evenly throughout the soil. It also helps plant roots uptake fertilizer, and watering reduces the risk of root shock or root burn. 

If you use a foliar fertilizer spray, apply it early in the morning before the sun gets too hot. Doing so will prevent leaf burn caused by the magnification of the sun’s rays through water droplets.

It will also allow plenty of time for the spray to dry before sunset, thus avoiding problems with fungal growth. 

Different Types Of Roses Need Different Fertilizers

Roses in the landscape are typically easier to keep fed than container plants, miniature plants, and hybrid tea roses. For landscape roses, you may easily get by with a single commercially prepared rose fertilizer product

Read and follow packaging instructions closely to feed your roses from early spring to early autumn and then give them a break through the winter. Then, follow the tips presented here to know when and how to fertilize your roses. 

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