Rose Bush Food [How To Fertilize]

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Rose Bush Food [How To Fertilize]

Short Answer: Fertilizing rose bushes promotes vigorous growth and abundant blooms. The best approach is to use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer designed explicitly for roses, typically applied in early spring as new growth emerges. It’s essential to follow up with additional feedings, usually every four to six weeks during the growing season up to late summer. When applying fertilizer, it’s critical to spread it evenly around the base of the plant, avoiding direct contact with the stems or leaves, and water thoroughly afterward to help distribute the nutrients into the soil. Regular feeding and proper watering and pruning ensure your rose bushes remain healthy, vibrant, and full of blooms.


Roses are generally hardy plants that don’t require much attention to grow and bloom. However, for the healthiest growth and biggest blooms, roses require more nutrients than most flowering shrubs. The good news is that providing the essential nutrients is easy, and you can do it either organically or by using synthetic fertilizers. To achieve the best results, it’s important to use the right balance of nutrients in the best rose fertilizer and to fertilize them regularly. By doing so, you will be rewarded with a garden full of beautiful and fragrant flowers.

Why Roses Need Fertilizing

All plants, including roses, require three essential nutrients to grow healthily. These nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). In addition, there are several secondary and trace elements, such as boron, chlorine, copper, and iron, that promote plant cell and root growth. Although most garden soils contain these nutrients, they tend to get depleted as the plants consume them. To ensure that roses thrive and perform their best, it’s necessary to add nutrients back into the soil.

'China Doll' pink roses

The Best Rose Fertilizers

Primary nutrients are available from organic (derived from plant or animal life) and synthetic or inorganic materials. Fertilizers come in dry, liquid, or foliar spray form. Shop for a product labeled for roses and carefully read the directions for amounts and frequency of application. Remember that more is not better; excessive fertilization can damage plants or make them susceptible to disease and insect attack.

Organic Rose Fertilizers

Feeding roses using natural sources of nutrients has the advantage of avoiding the risk of overloading the soil with unwanted chemicals. However, organic products tend to have a lower nutrient concentration compared to synthetic fertilizers, which means that more frequent applications are necessary. On the positive side, organic products nourish soil organisms and promote the development of humus, which enhances soil health and supports plant growth. Some recommended organic options for feeding roses include:

  1. Fish emulsion
  2. Aged manures
  3. Compost tea
  4. Alfalfa meal
  5. Bone meal

How and When to Fertilize Roses

Most roses need regular feeding throughout the growing season. But exactly how and when to fertilize roses depends on if they’re new or established plants and if they are repeat blooming roses.

Newly Planted Roses

Add compost to the hole at planting time when adding a new rose plant to your garden. Then, provide a liquid fertilizer (synthetic or organic) about a month after they’re established.

Established Roses

Start feeding existing rose plants in spring when new growth is about 6 inches long. Provide a second feeding of liquid fertilizer after the first bloom.

Repeat-Blooming Roses

Fertilize repeat-blooming roses in spring as you would any other rose, then every 2-3 weeks until late summer.

3 Tips for Fertilizing Roses

  1. It’s a good idea to do a soil test every few years, especially if your soil pH needs to be adjusted to keep your roses healthy. The results will help you figure out exactly which type of fertilizer and other soil amendments like garden lime you need to add.
  2. If conditions are dry, water your roses before feeding them, and keep them well hydrated afterward. This helps the plants absorb nutrients better and prevents fertilizer burn on roots and leaves.
  3. Stop feeding about eight weeks before your average first frost date to avoid stimulating too much new growth that cold temperatures will damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there any roses that don’t need regular fertilizing?

    Yes, easy-care varieties of landscape or shrub roses will do just fine without fertilizing them regularly, other than giving them a dose of slow-release fertilizer in spring.

  • How much fertilizer do roses in pots need?

    Fertilize roses growing in pots more frequently than in-ground roses. This is because roses in pots have more limited soil volume to find nutrients and are watered more frequently, which can wash nutrients away.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in the USA

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
Northeast (e.g., New York, Massachusetts)Rose, Purple Lilac, Mountain LaurelSugar Maple, American Elm, White Pine
Southeast (e.g., Florida, Georgia)Orange Blossom, Cherokee Rose, Southern MagnoliaLive Oak, Spanish Moss, Saw Palmetto
Midwest (e.g., Ohio, Illinois)Carnation, Violet, Purple ConeflowerBur Oak, Prairie Grasses, Wild Bergamot
Southwest (e.g., Texas, Arizona)Bluebonnet, Saguaro Cactus Flower, Indian PaintbrushJoshua Tree, Agave, Mesquite
West (e.g., California, Washington)California Poppy, Coast Rhododendron, BitterrootGiant Sequoia, Redwood, Manzanita
Rocky Mountain (e.g., Colorado, Montana)Rocky Mountain Columbine, Bitterroot, Indian PaintbrushBlue Spruce, Aspen, Sagebrush
Great Plains (e.g., Kansas, Nebraska)Sunflower, Goldenrod, Purple ConeflowerCottonwood, Bluestem Grasses, Buffalo Grass
Pacific Northwest (e.g., Oregon, Alaska)Oregon Grape, Forget-me-not, Pacific RhododendronDouglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Ferns

This table includes the most popular flowers and plants in the USA by region, which considers a range of botanical species, including native and widely cultivated varieties.

Most Popular Flowers & Plants in Australia

RegionPopular FlowersPopular Plants
New South WalesWaratah, Bottlebrush, Flannel FlowerEucalyptus, Acacia, Banksia
VictoriaCommon Heath, Waxflower, Pink HeathMountain Ash, Silver Wattle, Victorian Blue Gum
QueenslandCooktown Orchid, Golden Penda, Umbrella Tree FlowerMoreton Bay Fig, Macadamia Nut, Queensland Bottle Tree
South AustraliaSturt's Desert Pea, Kangaroo Paw, Eucalyptus BlossomAdelaide Blue Gum, South Australian Blue Gum, Saltbush
Western AustraliaRed and Green Kangaroo Paw, Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Swan River DaisyJarrah, Marri, Karri
TasmaniaTasmanian Blue Gum, Leatherwood Flower, Tasmanian WaratahHuon Pine, Tasmanian Oak, Myrtle Beech
Northern TerritorySturt's Desert Rose, Frangipani, Desert RoseBoab, Gidgee, Spinifex
Australian Capital TerritoryRoyal Bluebell, Australian Daisy, CorreaSnow Gum, River Red Gum, Black Mountain

This table offers a basic overview of popular flowers and plants in each Australian region, focusing on a combination of state flowers, native species, and other characteristic plants. It's important to note that specific species' popularity and prevalence can vary. This table is a simplified representation. Consulting local botanical gardens or regional horticultural societies in Australia would be ideal for more detailed and accurate information.

Charlotte Gammon

By Charlotte Gammon

Meet Charlotte Gammon, our expert and author. She's our true treasure, as she has got 20+ years of experience in gardening, winery and house design. In early 2000s, she worked for today.com magazine and was in charge of the gaardening section. Later on, Charlotte opened her own designer agency and worked as a designer and decorator. We are happy to have Charlotte with us, as she is our good friend. We value her experience and we're sure you will love the articles she created for our blog.