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Fertilizing Roses

Roses are heavy feeders as they put lots of energy into flower production, making large demands on the soil. If one or more of the necessary elements is deficient in the soil, we begin to see the signs of hunger. If a rose does not have adequate nutrients, it will not have the ability to successfully fight off diseases and pests and will become susceptible to damage. Therefore it is very important that roses are fed regularly.

Click here for signs and symptoms of hungry roses.


There are many forms of rose fertilizer:

Natural fertilizers:

A regular, generous application of well rotted animal manure or compost and blood and bone are perfect for roses. Avoid manure from animals that eat meat and use chicken manure sparingly - as these are too acidic for roses. Blood and bone gives an immediate burst of nutrients but should only be used once or twice a year in winter and the manure or compost provides a continuous release as it breaks down.  A quick foliar feed every so often of Charlie Carp or Seasol is a good pick me up for the plant.

Pelletized fertilizer:

Pelletized fertilizers such as Sudden Impact are applied by sprinkling around the base of the plant. Use a reputable brand and follow the manufactures instructions on the packaging.

Liquid fertilizer:

Use a reputable brand and follow the manufactures instructions on the packaging. Never apply liquid fertilizer to dry soil as this will burn the roots - water the roses first.


When to apply:

Fertilizing should be done three times a year:
1.  first flush in spring,
2.  start of summer,
3.  start of Autumn.

feed after the autumn flush, as this encourages fresh growth at the wrong time. New growth leading into winter is not ideal as it may become damaged from the frost.

DO NOT fertilize in winter or at the time of planting!!


Foliar Feed:

This is type of fertilizer is applied by spraying the foliage of the plant. It has the unique advantage of reaching the sap flow in the stems only hours after being applied and will help give the rose lovely, glossy green leaves. This is to be used in conjunction with other fertilizers and is not to replace soil fertilization.

Application: weekly or fortnightly.

Charlie Carp is a great example of this, mix with water and spray the foliage once a week for the best results. This product can also be mixed with other eco friendly sprays such as Eco-Oil and Eco-Fungicide, providing protection against pests and diseases.


You CAN over feed your roses!

Do not over feed your roses. If roses are over fed, you will notice excessive growth, the plant growing larger than normal and with reduced flowers. Also note that some soils already contain sufficient nutrients for roses and may not need feeding a regularly as recommended, judge this on how the individual plant is growing.