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Last updated: March 08, 2021
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Your roses require good fertilizer if they’re to be healthy. Given the wide variety of rose fertilizer in the market, identifying the perfect product can be onerous. Is the fertilizer you’re about to buy suitable for the rose species you’re growing? What nutrients does it provide? If these questions leave you confused, worry not. We’re here to help you pick the best fertilizer for roses at the best price.
We have tested 18 different products and identified BioAdvanced All-in-One Rose and Flower Care Granules as the best overall. It’s a composition that includes nutrients and trace element to boost rose plant health, and insecticides and fungicides to keep pests and diseases away. Add the fact that it’s formulated to offer protection for up to 6 weeks and you see why it’s our Editor’s Choice. Read more on this and other fertilizers in the Product Review section.
For this review, we compared how each fertilizer performed when applied to different types of roses. Additionally, we analyzed features like the fertilizer type, NPK numbers, disease and insect control properties, and product weight. We explain why these factors are important and tell you the roles they play in determining the fertilizer’s potency. It’s a lot of information, but we’ve structured it in an easy-to-follow format. There is a comparison table with the rating of each product, in-detail reviews of the products, a buying guide, and FAQs about rose fertilizers. By the end of the review, you’ll have a pretty good idea which fertilizer to buy.
BioAdvanced All-in-One Rose and Flower Care Granules offers you the benefits of 3 products in just one product. Besides fertilizing roses and nourishing them with multiple nutrients, this product also controls insects and diseases, with each application giving you rainproof protection for up to 6 weeks. It’s infused with fungicides that help control diseases like black spot, southern blight, powdery mildew, and rust. It also protects against insects like aphids, lace bugs, leaf beetles, mealybugs, scales, thrips, and whiteflies.
This rose fertilizer is derived from aqua ammonia, urea, phosphoric acid, and potassium hydroxide. It has an NPK ratio of 6-9-6 and is designed to promote strong roots and stimulate blooming. Use 4 tablespoons in 1 quart of water for every plant. Your first application should ideally be during the growth season. Reapply every 6 weeks. Prune your bushes around this time and apply the product as it’s the best fertilizer for roses after pruning. If you have sandy soil and your roses are constantly attacked by disease, you can reapply the product every 4-5 weeks to increase efficiency.
The 4-pound can is big and will last you a long time. If you have plenty of rose bushes, buying this larger container makes economic sense. The biggest issue with this product is that it’s not eco-friendly; it’s harmful to bees and aquatic invertebrates.
If you are conscious about every ingredient that goes into feeding your roses, you’ll be glad to know that Espoma RT18 Rose Tone is all-natural and it’s approved for organic gardening. The best organic fertilizer for roses, it’s derived from natural products that include feather meal, poultry manure, bone meal, and alfalfa meal, and contains 15 nutrients as well as thousands of Espoma’s patented Bio-Tone microbes.
The manufacturer recommends that you apply the product once every month during growth season. Use 11/4 cups of Rose Tone around each rose plant for established bushes. For best results, scratch the surface of the soil to ensure the product seeps into the top inch of the soil. For new plantings, add 3 cups of Rose Tone to the soil and mix thoroughly, then plant as normal. While this product is great for landscape gardening, it’s also the best fertilizer for roses in pots.
What you may not like about Rose Tone is the smell. It has a rather strong smell that doesn’t go away once you open the bag. Perhaps it would help if the bag was sealed to lock the smell inside, but it isn’t. We can only assume the smell is as a result of all the natural ingredients in the fertilizer, but because it is super effective, the odor may not bother you much.
Neptune’s Harvest Rose & Flowering Formula is a foliar feed composition, and in many ways, the best liquid fertilizer for roses. It’s made from fresh North Atlantic fish, molasses, seaweed, yucca extract, and humic acid. It has an NPK formula of 2-6-4 and is specifically formulated to stimulate flowering. The fertilizer works by availing the nutrients roses need for increased volume and density of flower buds. While this is the main benefit this product gives, you’ll also notice that your rose bushes appear stronger, with lush, healthier leaves once you start using the product.
One other unique benefit is that it is packed with nutrients that boost tolerance to high temperatures and drought, which makes it the best fertilizer for roses in summer. If you live in an area that experiences harsh summers or prolonged dry weather, this fertilizer can make a world of difference to the health of your rose bushes.
Apply the fertilizer once buds appear. Use ⅛ cup per gallon of water, and reapply every 1-2 weeks throughout the flowering season. If growing your roses indoors, use a ratio of 1 tablespoon per gallon of water instead.
We couldn’t find a single thing about it we didn’t like, unless you consider the $40 price a bit steep. But it is a large 1-gallon container, which will last long if you don’t have that many bushes. At ⅛ cup (1 fl. oz) per gallon, it gives you a total of 128 applications.
Down to Earth Organic Rose & Flower Fertilizer, the best fertilizer for knockout roses, is what you want to buy if you dream of growing a flower bed full of thriving rose bushes. This all-natural formula is made using nutrient-dense ingredients like fish bone meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal, seabird guano, langbeinite, rock phosphate, humates, and kelp meal, and is listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for organic gardening, pointing to the stringent quality standards it meets.
The ratios for landscaping and houseplants are different. If using in a flower bed, apply 5-6 lbs per square feet and thoroughly mix into the top 3 inches of the soil. If transplanting your roses, add 1-2 tablespoons per hole and water. For established roses, side dress with 2-4 tablespoons per plant two times a month during growth season. When new growth appears, add ½-1 cup of fertilizer to soil mix well, and water. Repeat the process when blooms appear and in late fall, but this time use half the recommended ratio. For container and indoor new plantings, use ¼-½ lbs per cubic foot of soil and mix well. For established roses, use 1-2 tablespoons per gallon of soil.
This particular package is really big at 5 pounds, and comes in economical granular form. It’s, however, packaged in a cardboard box and needs careful handling.
What we liked:
All-natural and organic
Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approved
Miracle-Gro Plant Food Shake ‘N Feed Rose and Bloom Continuous Release is a natural formula that delivers rose food gradually, leading to strong, full bushes that stay vibrant all through the year. It is made with kelp, earthworm castings, feather meal, and bone meal. The special combination of macronutrients and microbes allow your roses to develop a higher number of buds, ultimately growing into more blooms.
An easy to use formula that only requires you to add the recommended amount of fertilizer to the soil and thoroughly mix with the top 3 inches of the soil and then water your bushes. It does not need to be mixed with water. Use ½ cup per 10 square feet of soil and reapply every 3 months. You can use it on new plantings and on established rose bushes. Ensure that you water your roses every 2-4 days during dry weather. It provides your roses with nutrients for up to 3 months, so you don’t have to reapply every other week. As with any fertilizer, avoid over-applying as this could damage your roses instead of helping them.
This four-and-a-half-pound can will last a long while, given you have a 3-month waiting period before reapplying the fertilizer. Miracle-Gro also gives you 100% money-back guarantee should you not be unsatisfied with the product.
What we liked:
Feeds roses for up to 3 months
Easy to use
100 money-back guarantee
What could be better:
Bushes need regular watering for the fertilizer to work continuously
Things to Consider
From the reviews above, you can see how different fertilizers can be. Some are great for springtime use, others are just as effective when used in the summer; some are organic, some are inorganic. In this next section, we’ll look at all these differences, see how fertilizer for roses works, and examine the factors that influence the effectiveness of any fertilizer.
What roses need to grow perfect
Like all plants, roses need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in high amounts. Nitrogen helps in the development of chlorophyll and healthy leaves. Phosphorus fosters strong roots and stems, and potassium boosts general plant health.
They also need these additional nutrients in smaller amounts: calcium for cell growth, sulfur, copper, manganese, iron, boron, zinc, vitamins, and microbes.
When using any kind of fertilizer for your roses, ensure that you water the plants adequately to encourage the uptake of the product by the roots and prevent burning. This is most crucial when using granular fertilizers.
How rose food works?
Once in contact with the surface on which it’s applied, the fertilizer breaks down and is then taken in by the plant. Depending on the type of fertilizer used, this can happen immediately or it can be gradual. In foliar fertilizer and most liquid fertilizers, nutrients are absorbed into the leaves and roots immediately.
Spread fertilizer around the plant to ensure you reach all the roots.
After fertilizer application, water your bushes regularly to keep the soil consistently moist for increased nutrient uptake.
Prune your roses regularly to encourage new growth. Remove spent buds, damaged leaves, and dead stems.
Fertilize young roses using liquid fertilizer. It’s easier for their young roots to process compared to granular fertilizer and less likely to burn them.
Apply fertilizer during the growing season to stimulate growth and blooming. For most roses, this is between May and September. Apply fertilizers with zero or low nitrogen levels closer to the end of growth season (fall) to optimize root development in preparation for the next bloom.
The following features will help you choose the best fertilizer for roses
Rose fertilizers usually come in granular or liquid form. Liquid fertilizers tend to be fast releasing and are therefore immediately available to the roses once you apply them. They are the best type to use on young and mature roses.
Most granular and powder fertilizers are slow releasing and will gradually supply the bushes with nutrients over a specified period of time.
The most essential numbers are the NPK quantities, which are the main ingredients required for optimal plant health. Select fertilizer according to the nutritional needs of your roses. If your roses have poor foliage due to low nitrogen levels in the soil, choose a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen percentage. If you want to boost the overall health of your bushes, go for a fertilizer with a higher amount of phosphorus. To improve your roses’ ability to bloom, choose one with a higher amount of potassium.
The fertilizer should have additional compounds that plants consume in smaller amounts, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, and trace elements and vitamins. Espoma RT18 Rose Tone, for instance, has a wide selection of microbes.
Some fertilizers help with disease and insect control. For example, BioAdvanced All-in-One Rose and Flower Care Granules has fungicides and insecticides that ward off a wide range of diseases and insects, including black spot, rust, aphids, and leaf beetles. If your soil is susceptible to diseases or you have to fight insects due to the climate or any other reason, using such a fertilizer can help. Buying rose fertilizer that has disease and insect control properties often means you don’t need to buy additional fungicides or insecticides for your bushes.
The pack type will determine how and where you store your rose fertilizer. Many fertilizers, especially inorganic ones, come in plastic containers and bottles. Store these in a cool, dry place away from the kitchen. The biggest advantage with these types of containers is that they are water resistant, so if they’re accidentally exposed to water, the fertilizer inside will remain protected.
Organic fertilizers usually come in paper and cardboard packs that you can store in the kitchen. Just ensure you keep them in a cool, dry place as moisture can damage the box and seep into the fertilizer, causing lumps that make spreading difficult.
Fertilizer comes in packs of all sizes. When choosing the size to buy, consider the recommended ratios, frequency of application, and the size of your rose garden since these 3 will indicate how quickly the product gets depleted. A small pack will suffice if you only have a few rose plants to tend to, if the product is highly concentration such that you only use a little at a time, or if the fertilizer is applied infrequently. Choose a large pack like Espoma RT18 Rose Tone if you have lots of roses or if the fertilizer needs to be applied frequently.
New and young roses process liquid fertilizer better than they do granular one, so use this on the younger plants. The same goes for mature roses. Established roses are happy to take it all in and will thrive on any type of fertilizer.
Wild roses don’t need as much attention as cultivar varieties, so don’t overwhelm them with product, and this includes fertilizer. A little goes a long way with this type of rose.
Potted roses, especially the ones grown indoors, should preferably be fed with liquid fertilizer for easy processing because of the somewhat limiting condition of their environment.
The effectiveness of rose fertilizer is measured by how the bushes respond to the product. A good fertilizer should promote new growth both in new plants and after pruning. It should also help in root and leaf development, which can be seen in how strong and vibrant the plant becomes. Third, it should increase the number of blooms.
Rose fertilizer prices vary depending on package size, but listings start at around $13 for a 4.5-pound pack. On the upper end are 1 gallon containers that cost about $40, but there are plenty of good offers that fall in between this price range. The 18-pound Espoma RT18 Rose Tone that sells for $20, for example, is a steal.
Use fertilizer specifically formulated for roses instead. Roses need precise amounts of nutrients to nurture and coerce their buds to grow and burst into the delicate blooms you love. This will only happen if you use rose fertilizer. A universal fertilizer may not have the ingredients required to produce more blooms.
Yes. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and copper, and eggshells contain calcium, all of which help roses to thrive. Regular application of this organic material enhances growth and blooming in roses.
Yes. Use ingredients and leftovers from your kitchen and don’t add any artificial ingredients. Things like eggshells, coffee grounds, ground fish bones, banana peels, used tea bags and tea leaves, cool and unsalted vegetable cooking water, and non-moldy fish tank water are some things you can feed roses with.
Liquid rose fertilizer. It’s readily available for their development needs and is the easiest type for their young cells to process. Young plants require a smaller dose than established plants. Use the dose recommended for young plants as indicated on the label.
The BioAdvanced All-in-One Rose and Flower Care Granules is our top choice, and not just because it makes gardening a delight. With its three-pronged approach to rose care, it merges food provision and insect and disease control, delivering all three in a single application. Factor in the cost and you quickly realize you’re getting 3 products for the price of one. Our second favorite is Espoma RT18 Rose Tone, an all-natural power food that is also approved for organic gardening. It’s formulated to provide roses with 15 nutrients and thousands of beneficial microbes, and the 18-pound bag is bound to last a long while. Third in our best fertilizer for roses list is Miracle-Gro Plant Food Shake ‘N Feed Rose and Bloom Continuous Release. We like the natural ingredients and variety of microbes in this product, the easy-to-use formula, the slow-release mechanism that supplies roses with food for 3 months, and the money-back guarantee.