How to feed roses
Roses hold a special place in our hearts and in our gardens, and the combination of their spectacular flowers and heady fragrance make an impression that’s hard to top. As well as being beautiful, roses are also surprisingly tough, and many will perform well even in less-than-perfect environments, but for a truly sensational display, they need the right kind of food at the right time. Get the best from your plants with our top tips on how to feed roses.
When to feed roses
For the best results, you should feed your roses twice a year, once in spring just as the leaves are starting to appear and again in summer after the first flush of flowers is over. This second feed is especially important for repeat-flowering roses, giving them the nutrients they need to keep flowering all summer long.
What to feed roses
For roses planted in the ground, you can use either a general-purpose granulated fertiliser or a specialised rose fertiliser. Roses planted in containers need more feeding than those in the ground, as nutrients leach out of the compost every time the plant is watered. Feed container-grown roses fortnightly with a liquid general-purpose fertiliser in spring, then switch to a high potash liquid feed when buds appear. Specialised rose liquid fertilisers are available, but you can also use liquid tomato fertiliser diluted to half the strength recommended for tomatoes.
How to feed roses in the ground
- Before applying granular fertiliser to roses in the ground, clear away any weeds, fallen leaves and any other debris by hand or with a hand fork.
- Sprinkle rose feed around the base of the plant, following the manufacturer’s instructions on how much to apply – don’t be tempted to overfeed your roses, as this can do more harm than good!
- Mix the fertiliser into the soil by raking lightly with the hand fork, then water the plant thoroughly.
- Finish by applying a thick (5cm /2in) mulch of well-rotted farmyard manure or garden compost around the base of the rose, making sure the mulch isn’t touching the stem as this can cause rotting.
Tips on feeding roses in containers
- As a general rule, it’s a good idea to water container plants before you apply a liquid feed, so that the compost is already damp. If a liquid feed is applied to dry compost, water can actually be drawn out of the plant’s roots by reverse osmosis, damaging the plant.
- Once the compost is damp, water the plant using the liquid feed diluted in accordance with the instructions.
- Avoid splashing the feed onto foliage.
Feed your roses well and they’ll reward you with a fantastic display of flowers.