Rose Baskets
Rainbows and Roses

To Fertilize Your Roses or Not

Tired roses, just before winter pruning, always look like they'll need lots of care and feeding before they bounce back come spring.


However, the natural regernerative forces that take place during dormancy are truly a marvel–I'm always awestruck by the power of growth.  


This is how the roses looked this weekend. I've never seen so many buds; these belong to White Masterpiece.


I thought what will a little fertilizer mean when there is such an abundance of energy swirling in all those buds (this is Paquerette)? For years, my garden has received homemade compost, mulch, and fertilizer before bloom time. This year, I'm going to let nature take care of the roses.


Truth is, the powerful forces at work during spring will even give healthy, beautiful blooms to a poorly cared for rose. I've always known this, so I wonder why I never thought to forgo that first feeding when my soil was usually in good shape? I didn't realize needless "rose rules" still had a hold on me. The beauties above are Winchester Cathedral.


So all I can say is, wow, I'm happy not to fertilize! 


When I give rose talks, the first questions are inevitably about fertilizer. My answer is simply, "Feed your soil, not your roses." Composting and mulching are the keys to healthy soil. This is not to say I will stop fertilizing altogether. I think this year I will give them a boost after the first bloom, and that will be it, along with a little mulch from our silver maple.

For information on composting, click here, and here's something about mulching in the garden, click


This is Safrano, a Tea rose enjoying much needed rain.