Roses are big feeders and quickly use up all the nutrients in the soil. This is true for even the best-prepared rose beds. Furthermore, many essential minerals quickly leach out due to rain and watering. Light soils are especially needy of constant nutrient replacements. The Queens of the garden like to be treated as royalty and this means continual fertilization and a bit of TLC. This way they will flourish and bring brilliant blooms for an extended season.
Many store bought fertilizers are available, but making your own may bring better rose results: bigger blooms and in general, a more healthy plant.
First Things First
Prior to feeding any rose plant, nutritious mulch should be applied around the base of each bush/tree. Mulch is important because it improves plant growth in several ways: It regulates soil temperature by insulating roots from temperature extremes, helps to keep the soil moist, helps prevent weeds from growing and is an excellent base on which to apply fertilizer.
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Killer Roses Recipe
Homemade Mulch Recipe
Mix the below ingredients together and then apply around each plant.
1 shovel full of garden compost
1 ½ cups of aged chicken manure (If it's a small plant use less)
Water each plant very well. Don't let the mulch get packed down by the water.
'Killer' Rose Fertilizer
I have been using this 'Killer Fertilizer' for several years on my hybrid tea and florabunda roses; it's terrific. My friend Sandy, a prolific Bay Area Good Gardener, gave it to me. This recipe is for ONE established rose plant. For multiple plants increase each ingredient and mix them together in a wheelbarrow or large container.
When feeding miniature roses, diseased roses or roses that are less than a year old, cut each ingredient in half, i.e. ¼ cup blood meal etc.
½ cup Blood meal (provides nitrogen)
½ cup Bone meal (provides phosphorus) ¾ cup Epsom salts (The magnesium in Epsom salts assists in the metabolic process. It's usually less expensive to buy it at a drug store than at the nursery.)
1/8 cup Ironite (This is optional, but insures there is enough iron in the soil)
1 cup Indoor/Outdoor Osmocote, 18 X 6 X 12 (9 month time released fertilizer)
Sprinkle the mixture on top of the compost (or into the soil if compost was not applied). Try not to get the mixture near the trunk of the plant.
Now scratch the fertilizer in lightly and evenly with a hoe or hand fork but be careful not to disturb the plant's root system.
Water-in the mixture thoroughly.
Repeat this application about a month after the first blooms have completely opened and are flushed with color. That is, before a second crop of blooms develop, probably once per month through August. Stop applying this recipe after August, as it encourages soft growth, which could suffer frost damage during the winter months. Instead, continue feeding one time per month with diluted fish emulsion through the month of October (see Fish Emulsion Bonus below).
For one-time bloomers, roses that only bloom once during the season, the last feeding should be in June.
Note: This fertilizer recipe is high in nitrogen and can attract aphids. Clean unwanted pests off your rose plants by spraying the bush with water or water mixed with an organic insecticidal soap.
Homemade Bug and Fungus Remedies
Fish Emulsion Bonus
In approximately 2 to 3 weeks after feeding your roses with the above recipe, give the plants a dose of diluted fish emulsion. Do this one time per month, March through October.
For one plant, dilute 1 Tablespoon of fish emulsion into 1 gallon of water.
Apply one to two gallons of mixture around the base of each rose plant.
Spring and summer in the garden mean beautiful flowers, lush plants and fresh vegetables. Unfortunately, in too many gardens the growing season also means vigilant pest control.
To help Mother Nature naturally, without toxic poisons, use organic homemade controls. The use of natural ingredients and solutions has recently been popularized as organic gardening. It is the practice of always using naturally produced substances verses harmful chemicals that have only temporary benefits. Organic gardening has evolved into a more complete understanding of the relationship between people, plants, soil, animals, and insects found in our backyards. Most organic pesticides are made from household products and supplies. Try one or a number of these simple organic recipes to rid your turf of nasty pests. Hopefully, you will have good results and some fun, not to mention a healthy, safe, and successful garden.
For Ant Infestations: Try this organic anti-ant recipe:
To ¾ cup of water add:
¼ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of borax
Mix these 3 ingredients together thoroughly. Now pour the solution into small containers (jar tops work well) and place the jar tops near the ant trails. Replenish as needed.
How and why does this solution work?
The ants are drawn to the sugar, the borax acts as a natural pesticide and the water mixes the ingredients.
Organic Remedy for Aphids, Spidermites and Mealy Bugs
Mix together 1 Tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 cup of vegetable oil.
Then dilute 1 Tablespoon of the above two ingredients into 1 cup of water.
Now you're ready to spray this natural solution onto the infected plants. Spray both the front and the back of each infected leaf and the stems of the plant too.
Note: Before spraying each plant perform a small test first. Because soap can sometimes burn particular varieties, spray this solution on just one leaf first. It generally takes about 24 to 48 hours for a burn to show up. If burning is not a problem go ahead and spray all infected areas of the plant.
How and why does this solution work?
The soap breaks down the insect's protective exterior coating. This dehydrates the insects and makes them more susceptible to disease. This is gross, sorry!
Eeeeh Gads Gnats, Get Rid of 'Em Naturally
Gnats sometimes swarm on plants, usually indoor varieties. Try this natural solution, but if the problem persists change the soil in the container.
To 1 quart of boiling water add:
½ Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap
Now fill a spray bottle with the mixture. While the mixture is still hot, spray it on the plant, soil and gnats!
There's No 'Fun' in Fungus
The heat of summer often means fungus on our favorite plants, especially roses. To help keep these beauties to stay free of blackspot and powdery mildew make a mostly organic solution of the following:
1 generous teaspoon of baking soda
1 Tablespoon of summer dormant oil (summer dormant oil can be applied after the plant has leafed out)
½ teaspoon of insecticidal soap or dishing washing liquid
1 gallon of water
Combine the above ingredients and then spray the mixture on the plants every two weeks!
*Note: Make sure your plants are well watered prior to spraying any of these organic solutions. The plants need to be completely hydrated so as not to be affected negatively by these homemade remedies.