Northside Neighborhood Association
 
 

Projects

Care and Feeding of Roses

Summary of “A Gourmet Diet for Bay Area Roses”

GOAL:  Create large volume of blooms early April until late in November

Fertilizers:

  • Apply around rose’s drip line, (area marked if the bush was dripping wet).
  • Granular fertilizers -- spread directly on ground & water in thoroughly.
  • Concentrated liquid -- dilute first before applying.

N, P, K – 3 three most essential elements in soil fertility

  • Always expressed in three consecutive numbers on labels of all fertilizers, granular or liquid.
  • N (nitrogen) - a growth stimulant; is essential in the formation of chlorophyll; regulates plants’ intake of other nutrients.
  • P (phosphorous) - stimulates root formation & flowering;  hastens plant maturation by converting starches to sugars.
  • K [potassium (potash)] -  important for the development of stems & leaves; increases plants’ disease resistance and hardiness.

Rose diet for already healthy, modern day roses (those that repeat bloom):

  • Heirloom roses (blooms once):  feed same but only through June
  • New or sick plants & miniatures:  cut all fertilizer dosages in half.
  • Early spring (mid Feb.) mulch & blanket well with organic materials
  • i.e. - compost, wood shavings, bone meal, hoof & horn, aged manure (chicken & turkey best; steer will do); preferably a combination. 
  • Mulch is nutritious & provides perfect medium for applying concentrated fertilizers.

MARCH & APRIL (NOTE:an unseasonably late frost may delay blooms)

  • WK 1 – feed with granular, water soluble fertilizer concentrated in nitrogen (any of the following):
  • 31-0-0 (a slow-release formula)
  • 33.5-0-0 (ammonium nitrate)
  • 21-0-0 (ammonium sulfate)
  • 15.5-0-0 (calcium nitrate).
  • WK 3– feed with ¾ cup Epsom salts per bush & water thoroughly. 
  • Epsom salts (properly magnesium sulfate)
  • Activates plant enzymes essential to the growth process. 
  • Creates vibrant red growth from the base of rosebushes
  • Few rosebushes: buy epsom salts at corner grocery or pharmacy; it’s inexpensive
  • 12+ rose bushes: get a bag of industrial grade magnesium sulfate; not pharmaceutical-quality or as purified but no difference to your roses

MAY & JUNE

  • WK 1 – feed with granular, water soluble, balanced fertilizers:  10-10-10, 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 (whichever is on sale)
  • WK 3– feed with ½ cup Epsom salts per bush & water thoroughly.

JULY & AUGUST

  • WK 1– feed with granular, water soluble, balanced fertilizers: 10-10-10, 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 (more likely on sale now than earlier).
  • WK 3– feed with fish emulsion at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon. 
  • Dissolve & pour 2 gallons of mixture around the drip line of each bush.
  • Fish emulsion is thoroughly organic & incapable of burning plants

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER

  • WK 1 – feed with granular, water soluble 0-10-10  (favorite mixture among garden plants, not just roses)
  • Concentrations of phosphorous & potassium continues bloom & hardens wood for winter pruning
  • Encourages no new growth (0 signifies an absence of nitrogen)
  • WK 3 – feed with fish emulsion at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon. 
  • Dissolve & pour 2 gallons of mixture around the drip line of each bush.
  • Don’t apply fertilizers after Halloween; soil around properly fed rosebushes holds plenty of nutrients for the last blossoms.

Other foods roses enjoy:

  • Additional shots of fish emulsion (only if your roses still seem hungry)
  • Chelated iron (considered by many rosarians basic to a well-balance diet)
  • a quick greener-upper
  • a fine soil penetrant. 
  • Add any depleted element(s) in the soil, such as zinc, boron and manganese; requires a soil test to determine which to add.

* Information from “A Gourmet Diet for Bay Area Roses” by Rayford Reddell, who has over 24 years of experience.

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