Planning Your Rose Garden
Your Rose Garden site
A Guide to Planting Roses
Feeding Your Roses
Dealing with Rose Disease
Insect Prevention and Treatments for Roses
Winter Protection for Roses
Rose Propagation
Cut Flower Care
Rose Colors and Their Meanings
Roses FAQs
Finding My Zone for Planting
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Feeding Your Roses

Roses are very hungry plants. Feeding your roses the basic needs like food, water and a great spot for root growth will ensure the success of your roses.  How well they survive depends on how much of these three things they receive.

There are many people who are successful at growing roses, that can give you information on how to grow them. First learn how water and soil feeds your plants. There are some great books on gardening that can give you helpful information. Also find successful rose gardeners and talk with them about their secrets, many rose gardeners enjoy talking about their gardens. They can give you hints, some techniques and tricks they use each year to get beautiful roses. yellow roses

Always remember the needs of your roses:  food, water and location. Also watch your roses they will let you know when there is a problem. Finding out what that problem is will come with time and experience.


Roses need water, they love it in fact. Water your roses often, they are needy plants. They should get one inch of water, each week during the first three to four weeks after planting. About the fourth week after planting start soaking your rose beds every two weeks. This should be done in the morning for the best results. When there is little rain or no rain at all, water your roses. Roses need lots of hydration to stay healthy. Be sure your roses are not standing in water for a long period of time, this will rot their roots. Soil that drains well is the best. Also consistent soil moisture is very important. Letting the soil get to dry between watering will have an affect on rose plant growth and the production of blooms. In areas of the country that are arid using drip irrigation should be considered.


Roses needs the right amount of basic nutrients to be capable of reaching their full blooming potential. You can begin fertilizing your roses at about three months. Below is a guide to help you with a feeding program. 

Step 1: Fertilizers Understanding Them

In a well balanced fertilizer the basic ingredients are: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They are usually listed on fertilizer bags and labels as 5-5-5. These are what your plants need for life. Nitrogen is what gives your plants green new growth.  Phosphorous promotes photosynthesis,  flower production, and root growth.  Potassium strengthens canes, improves vigor and increases winter hardiness. Many rose growers recommend using slow or time releasing organic fertilizers so your roses do not burn. Many fertilizers with a higher nutrient content like 20-20-20 are too much for roses. These can cause your rose leaves to turn brown and fall off.

Step 2: Fertilizer Selection

Selecting a fertilizer can be a challenge. Before starting to fertilize, you need to select a fertilizer with the best ingredients. Below are some fertilizers that are well recommended for use:

1. Organic or natural based fertilizer: Get one that is granular and has a nutrient ratio that is well balanced, with single numbers like 5-5-5. This will provide the building blocks your plants need for growth and blooms. One thing to remember is to stay away from ingredients that have manufactured chemicals. They will harm your plants and do little to build your soil.

2. Bone Meal: A great way to help promote healthy blooms.

3. Fish or Kelp liquid fertilizer: Fish is a great source of nitrogen and kelp liquid helps to add trace minerals.

4. Alfalfa meal: Alfalfa promotes and conditions the soil for plant growth.

5. Epsom salts: Promotes the activity of enzyme in soil. It also causes basal breaks, the places where your roses will bloom.

6. Compost: Adds nutrients and organic matter that improve soil life. This helps plant roots to absorb the nutrients.

Step 3. Scheduled Feedings

A good way to apply fertilizers is just after it has rained, this helps the fertilizer to move down through the soil and get to the plants roots.

1. First Feeding (Spring)

When spring arrives, your roses need fertilizer for their first feeding. Roses require quit a lot of nutrients to maintain healthy growth and flowering. Fertilizers should be placed around the outside of the plant, one to two feet away. Carefully pull back any mulch and place the fertilizers on the list  into the first inch of the soil surface. Take care not to damage the tender roots that maybe at the surface of the soil.

Spring feeding each plant:

1. 1/4 c. Epsom salts

2. 1/2 c. bone meal

3. 1 or 2 c. granular organic fertilizer

4. 1/2 c. alfalfa meal 

5. 1-3 shovels of compost. Put the compost on top of the others. Compost serves as a mulch, which helps maintain moisture, stops weeds and keeps the temperature of the soil from getting to hot.

2. Monthly Feeding (Summer)

Roses need to be fed one time a month during seasonal growing . Make sure you stop feeding your roses in early Autumn or at least four to six weeks prier to the first annual frost date. If you fertilize to long roses will produce new growth that can be harmed by the cold.

After their feeding in the Spring, about a month, give your roses a cup of dry fertilizer or use fish/kelp liquid fertilizer about one gallon one time a month through their seasonal growing. Remember stop feeding 4 to 6 weeks prier to the first frost. This stops new growth from being damaged by frost. Mix the dry fertilizer into the first inch of the soil. Add a shovel full of compost to the bottom of your plant. Your roses will love that.


Knowing a little about soil will help you understand that soil is alive with microbes to earthworms. These creatures help break down the nutrients in the soil, which in turn feeds the plants. Plenty of water and food is the key to healthier soil. Adding organic matter, like compost to the soil will increase your soils health.

Also understanding the pH of your soil in your rose garden, is it acidic, alkaline or neutral? Nutrients are affected by the pH in your soil as it moves through it to the plants. Roses will thrive on a pH balance between 5.5 to 7.0.

If your roses are showing signs of yellowing and you have given them the food and water they need, check the pH levels in your soil. If the nutrients in the soil have a pH level that is neutral this makes iron easily available to your plants. When the soil becomes to alkaline or acidic, this will bind the iron and your plants will be unable to receive it, causing the yellowing. To fix the pH level when it is acidic adding some lime will help and adding sulfur when it is alkaline. To get information on getting your soil checked contact your county extension office. They will be able to tell you how and where to get the soil corrected.


Always make sure your pruning shears are sharp before you prune. Once your roses have established themselves, routine maintenance is a plus. In the spring prune any dead canes. First cut out any dead or damaged branches. Dead canes are dry looking on the inside and have turned brown. Prune the dead canes back until you see green on the inside.  Most old garden and shrub roses do not need to be pruned more than one time a year.pruning shears

You can also prune to control the shape of your roses. Cut your roses back about one third to a half, depending on the height you want them. Cut just above the outward facing buds, these are on the outside of the bush, cutting here will encourage the bud to grow upward making for better shape and air circulation for your roses .pruning roses

 Prune climbing roses with a bit of caution, they are prone to overlap their  branches and you do not want to cut the wrong ones. After about five to six  years, many shrub roses will bloom less. This maybe due to large branches,  prune back the plant at the top about 1/3 and eliminate some of the biggest  branches. Doing this makes your roses grow new branches and produce lots  of blooms. Also deadhead your roses, this means to pull off any spent blooms, which will encourage more to be produced.


Mulching will help to keep your maintenance down. Your roses will need less weeding, watering and have fewer rose diseases. Organic mulch like pine needles, wood chips, grass clippings and other biodegradable materials are the best, when placed about one to two inches thick at the base of your plants. This provides extra needed heat during the winter months to protect your roses.

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