Well cared-for roses need regular feeding and attention. Just
the fact that roses are normally pruned each year means that the nutrients are
removed permanently from the area. (The pruned sections of the rose are
basically the nutrients that were in the soil.)
Most shrubs in the garden are
left to find their own way in life and are not normally subjected to the pruning
regime of roses, therefore the loss of nutrients to the soil is lessened.
One of the most successful and environmentally friendly
way of feeding roses is by the use of organic
mulches applied each year. However, action within the soil has to take
place before the organic material can be broken down into readily available
food for the rose bush. Sometimes, this micro activity can even rob the soil
and rose of much needed food during the decaying process.
A well balanced fertilizer applied at the time of pruning is
normally a good way of feeding roses. If the fertilizer used is an organic
type - such as bonemeal or fish Blood and Bone, then this should be applied
a few weeks prior to pruning, for this type of feed takes a little longer to
There are many brand names of rose fertilizer available for
feeding roses, but any good well balanced feed will do the trick at this time.
Later in the growing season, then a fertilizer slightly higher in phosphate will
be better for this will provide the right type of nutrient for flower quality.
If roses are not fed properly, then tell tale signs of
diseases and general disorders will show up in the bush and flowers later on in
Feeding of roses is not a complex matter,
once you realise that the main thing is to replace all the lost nutrients
and to help the rose regenerate all of that new growth that is required to
support the hungry flowers!
Whilst the soil does a
marvellous job of supporting plant life - if left to its own devices - it
will need a little help and support itself when asked to continually support
the growth of a hungry child!
I tend to use an Osmocote-type (slow release fertilizer) with a
16-8-12 analysis. This is applied at the start of the rose's growing season when
the higher Nitrogen (N) ratio is good for new stem growth - needed after
pruning. The Potash and Phosphate (P and K) ratios are enough to help the
flowers and root system to develop well as they spring into growth later in the
season. The beauty of this type of slow release feeding is that a single
application in spring, will be enough to feed the rose throughout the growing
season, as the nutrients are released according to moisture and temperature
ratios. The damper and warmer the climate, the more feed is released. This
neatly coincides with the growth pattern of the rose bush.
There are liquid feeds and also foliar feeds available for
rose feeding. The latter simply feeds the rose bush and does little to replenish
lost food reserves in the soil. Both liquid feeds and foliar feeds will need to
be applied quite often throughout the growing season.
Basically, if you expect your rose to recover from an annual
pruning session, then you will have to lend a hand in feeding it.