The Best Organic Rose Food

The best organic rose food for feeding roses. How to apply coffee grounds, compost, systemic rose food granules, alfalfa based rose food. Organic rose fertilizer mixture. Slow release rose fertilizer.

The Best Organic Rose Fertilizer

Organic rose fertilizer--a  live chicken pecking around a rose bed.

A century ago, rose fertilizer meant one thing. Composted manure. You bought a load of it from a nearby farm and spread a thick mat of it over your rose beds.

Effective though malodorous, it acted as a mulch, rose plant food and soil conditioner.

Despite the fact that, upon analysis, the nutrient levels of manure seem low; it does something that today's best chemical concoctions don't.

Apparently, composted manure contains micro-organisms that allow plant roots to more easily take up soil nutrients. Chemical rose fertilizers are good. But this stuff is better.

I am not a soil scientist and I do not know why this is. It is simply something that I put to the test in my own garden and have found to be true.

My husband, Tiny, used to work for Walt Disney World over in Lake Buena Vista. Disney gardens organically and the company recycles all its plant and animal refuse into a wonderful, rich compost.

There are mountains of it out there (way out back where visitors can not see or smell it).

One of the benefits of being a Disney employee, is that you are free to help yourself to as much of this earthen treasure as you can carry off.

Tiny got these 2 huge barrels--our garbage cans are 35 gallons, these are bigger--filled them with compost and drove them home in his van. I used a lot of it to fill in a depression we call dog patch in our back yard created by a beautiful but bored mutt named Coco.

Over the next season, I noticed something incredible. Anything I planted in dog patch got very big very fast. And bloomed its head off!

White roses fed with organic rose food.

I tried putting an inch thick layer of this compost into the bottom of a pot before planting an angel trumpet plant. into it.

The angel trumpet took off. It grew so big and flowered so heavily in one season that the pot kept tipping over.

I tried the same experiment with a sucker of an Old Blush antique rose. It broke the plastic pot!

High quality organic compost is the best organic rose food you can get. Just be sure to use a heavy clay pot if you are planting roses in pots.

What If I Can't Get Good Compost?

Now that Tiny has retired from Disney, I no longer have access to compost of that quality. I tried making my own for a while but a maggot infestation caused me to give this up.

I buy the stuff labeled organic compost at the big box stores but it's not the same at all. Not even close.

It's worth using as a soil conditioner but it needs a lot of help.

To this end, I also use the following organic fertilizers: worm castings, blood meal, bone meal and super or triple phosphate.

Feeding Roses Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are slightly acidic which roses like. They offer a little nitrogen but are really more of a soil conditioner.

See Is Coffee Good For Plants for more information about using coffee grounds as a soil amendment.

The bloodmeal gives roses a nitrogen boost. Use it alone when you want to push vegetative growth early in the growing season.

Bonemeal contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium. Mix a little into the planting hole when transplanting roses or setting in new plants as it encourages strong root development. Use it sparingly as too much calcium may make the soil sweeter and roses prefer a slightly acid soil.

Super triple phosphate is an organic rose food I sprinkle around all my blooming plants in early spring. It takes about 6 weeks to take effect but it causes flowering plants to bloom very heavily.

Sprinkling a tablespoon of Epsom Salts around each bush in early summer will result in greener foliage, stronger cane growth and more flowers. You can also dissolve Epsom Salts in water and use it as a soil drench or foliar feed.

Alfalfa Rose Fertilizer

Alfalfa based rose food works its magic in 2 ways. It not only feeds roses but is beloved of earth worms. Sprinkling this stuff on your garden beds is like ringing the dinner bell. The worms will come and get it, aerating the soil as they go.

The more you feed the worms, the more worms will show up to strap on the feedbag. All that tunneling makes for friable soil, rich with worm castings.

Just what rose bushes adore.

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