Fertilizer for Roses

What kind of fertilizer is best for my roses?

I use a balanced fertilizer that we get from a local rose society that orders a custom blend 15-10-10 with the micronutrients needed for our area.

I highly recommend getting your soil tested every 3-5 years to determine your soil pH, structure and nutrients before making any soil amendments or suggesting fertilizers.

The soil test should be conducted by a laboratory versus a retail test kit. Local extension offices can provide guidance.


I use various fertilizers for my roses and I think that it benefits them. I have Rose Tone, fish emulsion, worm castings, compost and compost tea, miracle grow, and black cow composted manure. Osmocote too! I don’t use them all at once, of course, but I do use something every 3/4 weeks during the growing season starting in Mid March where I live in the Raleigh area in NC.

Totally agree! I found out the hard and expensive way. Used all kinds of fertilizers recommended for my area in San Antonio year one. I made raised beds there with soil specifically blended for roses. Year one not so many blooms. Year two I had cancer and the garden spraying and fertilizing took backseat to the pruning and shrub control. Year two and three they did amazing without amendments of any kind…so I tested the soil…the recommendations for the area did not fit my soil profile, all I really needed was to continue adding compost and good organic mulch and spray to fight the darn thrips and I was good. Test, you never know what you have. First thing I did here in Hampton was soil test and this is my first garden with sandy loam while the majority in Richmond have clay.


If there is a “magic potion” for roses, I firmly believe it is Alfalfa Tea as recommended by Howard Walters - the Rambling Rosarian - in his columns in the old ARS monthly publication.

In a 32-gallon plastic trash can, put in 10-12 cups of alfalfa meal and fill with water. Stir well a few times a day for 2-4 days. Place in the sun and keep the lid ON except when stirring. When it stinks, and when the alfalfa all sinks to the bottom, it’s ready to use. I have a one-gallon plastic milk jug where I have enlarged the spout by cutting out a bit of the plastic, and I use this to dip into the tea and fill a 2 gallon watering can. This will treat 2-4 bushes - just pour around the plant. In two weeks you will notice the difference - longer, straighter stems and vibrant bloom color. You could also “fortify” the tea if you wish with micro nutrients, kelp, chelated iron, etc.

Yes, it stinks but it sure does work. You could just put the alfalfa meal on the ground around the bushes, but I prefer the tea. Either way is a bit labor-intensive but if you want great roses…

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I tried that once - years ago. I couldn’t put up with the smell. I do use alfalfa in my beds however.

I use Max Sea every 3weeks , Rose Tone every 6weeks and alfalfa pellets every 4-5 months. I tried to do the tea and was gagging from the smell. I will do anything for my roses :rose: but I just couldn’t stomach the tea. Just had all my soil tested and I am between 6.5-6.7 samples taken from 5 locations in my garden.