From a bed of around 100 hybrid rose bushes, this year again I have lost
about ten plants, this after a rather poor flowering season. The bed is well
covered with forest bark but which I feel is not allowing any feed to
penetrate satisfactorily. I want first of all to provide a better feed than
Growmore, and also to plant new rose bushes to replace those lost. What
fertiliser(s) should I use for the existing bushes and what, if different,
for the new ones? I have been recommended bone meal and sulphate of potash
with a handful of Epsom salts to each, both old and new bushes. I would also
appreciate any advice on applications.
The year I dug 3 holes beside each rose plant and burried banana skin
in them, my roses went crazy. I need to do it again, that was 3 years
ago and they haven't done as well the last 2. I just use
commercial rose food other than that, and spray for the stinkin
Japanese Beetles when they attack everything!!
Try the banana peels, I don't know why, but they really work.
Nan in DE
I used to grow roses--before I moved several times. Now that I am
settled for a while I am going to grow them once again. I planted my
first one just this year, next year I will add many more. Japanese
Beetles are horrible and I spray for them also. I am going to try the
banana peel next year--I never would have though about that. How did
you come up with that idea?
I use horse manure liberally. It is easier to come by in some places than
others so if you don't have horses nearby I would suggest compost or other
herbivore manures. Chemical fertiliser alone is insufficient. I work on
mainly compost and manures topped off with inorganics (lime, gypsum, potash
etc) where required. I am not a rose enthisiast and don't have many but
they often grow 2.5 m (8ft ) in a season and all flower bountifully.
Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) provides magnesium which is important to
plants but a handfull per plant seems a lot. A agronomist who teaches in
the district tells me that magnesium-calcium balance is quite important for
healthy soil and calcium must predominate so that by adding excess of
magnesium you may actually be worse off. Do you have reason to think your
soil is deficient in magnesium?
If the bark is a mulch, fertilizers should sift at least part way
through it. When you water, the fertilizers should then dissolve and be
transported downward and into the soil.
If you want something with a systemic insecticide added, I use Bayer's
2-in-1. I feed my roses monthly and use Bayer for alternate feedings.
When I don't use Bayer, I use a handful of ammonium sulfate. Roses like
a lot of nitrogen and they like an acidic soil. Ammonium sulfate
For the first feeding of the year, I use (in declining amounts from
handful to tablespoon):
gypsum (calcium sulfate)
Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)
The gypsum not only provides calcium but also reacts chemically with the
heavy clay in my garden, making the clay more granular and less pasty
and allowing water to penetrate better. The magnesium in Epsom salts
promotes the growth of new canes.
You will note that I don't use either bone meal or superphosphate (both
being sources of phosphorus, which promotes flowers and root growth). I
put a generous amount of the latter in the planting holes when I first
planted my roses. This should be sufficient for at least 10 years.
Phosphorus tends not to dissolve or leach through the soil. Instead, it
must be placed where plant roots will find it. For older plantings, you
can take some 1/4-inch rebar and poke holes 2 feet deep around the plant
in a circle about 2 feet in radius. Half fill each hole with bone meal
or superphosphate, and then finish filling each hole with fine compost.
Bacterial action from the compost will very slowly make the phosphorus
available to the plant roots.
The vigor and flowering of roses depends very much on how they are
pruned. My <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_rosepruning.html is
NOT a how-to guide; it describes my approach to rose pruning.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I forgot to mention this: Roses like abundant moisture. No, they do
not want soggy soil. But the soil should be constantly moist.
Since overhead watering promotes fungus (mildew, rust), it's best to
irrigate by "flooding", allowing a hose to fill a basin around each
rose. If there is a slight slope to the bed, basins can be connected so
that you don't have to keep moving the hose.
Alternatives include drip irrigation or bubblers connected to your
regular garden irrigation system. I use drip for my roses in front. A
public garden where I'm a docent has a bubbler for each rose bush.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
I inherited a rose bed covered with large pine bark chips with weed mat
under that when we moved here and it was never anything short of a disaster
so I can understand what you are going through. it ook me 10 years to get
rid of the weed mat and the chips and during that process I found that the
only worms evident were in the rotting down pine mulch and the soil under
the mat had set like conscrete and looked totally lifeless. It's a wonder
any roses survived (but they mostly did).
What I use now is a rose ferliliser called 'Sudden Impact for Roses' by
Neutrog and it looks like pelleted poultry poop (one of Australia's rose
experts also uses this and she swears by it). Each spring I give each rose
a teaspoon of Epsom Salts around the drip line. My roses have never looked
healthier and they bloom well.
I never spray as I'm not in a humid climate and I have no problems with
pests and fungus on my roses.
Before I found "Sudden Impact for Roses" I used pelleted chook poop, Blood
and bone, hose poo or anything else I could get my hands on to improve the
soil in the bed and to get some live and some biota back into the soil.
Probably the thing the roses liked best of all of those was the horse poop.
I use the Sudden impact for roses at about 6 weeks intervals (when I
On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 14:55:44 +0100, "Alistair Macdonald"
Make sure the crowns are exposed properly for your climate and season.
I do not mulch my roses at all, but alternate feedings of rotted cow
manure and fish emulsion every two weeks and get excellent results.
Roses are heavy feeders. If you have long cold winters, mounding up
leaves for the winter is very good because they get some leaf mold.
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