Organic Rose Care

Site Selection

Roses need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. They appreciate morning sun more than afternoon sun. In our very hot Florida climate, many roses will thrive with 4 hours of morning sun and some afternoon shade. Some roses may tolerate some shade provided by deciduous trees, but they will bloom less often.  Roses thrive in sun and suffer in shade.

Roses need good air circulation to help ward off  disease. Avoid planting them too close together. It is good to know the size of the mature rose in order to get the correct spacing between plants.

Soil Preparation, Planting, and Mulching

It is most important to plant your roses in rich, well-prepared soil. It is a good idea to get your soil tested before planting in order to know the starting pH. Roses prefer a pH of 6.0 - 6.5 ideally. Good drainage is also very important. Dig a hole 2 feet deep by 3 feet wide. Fill the hole with part of a mixture of compost, manure, and  other organic materials. Mix this with the soil in the bottom of the hole. For budded roses I recommend planting the bud union below the soil (3 inches for warm climates and 6 inches below for cold climates). For own root roses, plant the rose at a depth that will insure a strong bush, usually at the same level as the soil was in the container. Fill the hole with the rest of the mixture around the root ball of the rose. Be sure and press the soil firmly around the root ball to keep out air holes. Top dress with leftover compost and cover with mulch. Several inches of mulch applied 2 to 3 times a year will mean fewer weeds, less water stress, richer soil and healthier plants.Pine needles, leaf mulch, decomposed tree bark and rotted horse manure are a few good examples. Place mulch from the base of the rose to a few inches beyond the drip line.

 Vinegar in water  lowers ph. Also can use sulphur, and peat. Dolomite lime will raise ph.


Water new roses as soon as they are planted. Water deeply once a day for the first few months if possible (especially in summer or if you live in a hot climate). After the rose is established, give the rose a deep watering 2 -3 times a week depending on the season and your climate. Deep watering other than frequent watering encourages deep root systems helping the rose survive
times of drought. If possible it is better to water at ground level so the leaves do not get wet. If you must use overhead watering, do so in the early morning so the sun can dry the leaves.

Compost, Compost Tea and Composted Manures are the  best sources of Organic nutrients.


Roses are heavy feeders and thrive on light, regular feedings. At planting time, a slow release fertilizer high in nitrogen (milorganite) is recommended. After new growth appears on the roses, a liquid fertilizer (FISH EMULSION combined with  LIQUID SEAWEED) can be used every 2 to 3 weeks. The best formula is approximately 2 - 3 ounces of each per gallon. Do not fertilize heat-stressed plants. Avoid feeding during winter months. It is best to fertilize just before a heavy bloom cycle (early spring and early fall). I recommend only organic fertilizers which feed the living soil micro-organisms which in turn feed the plant when needed. Any number over 10 kills the micro-organisms and good bacteria in the soil. Trace elements (found in Liquid Seaweed) are also important which are not found in your basic NPK fertilizers. The most available Organic product on the market and the easiest to get is a product called ROSE-TONE Organic Rose Fertilizer made by Espoma. This product is carried by both Lowes and Home Depot and most garden centers. One to two cups per rose bush depending on size and watered in well is advised.
Roses like to eat a little bit, often. The easiest program of Organic feeding is to alternate granular and liquid feedings every 3 - 4 weeks during the growing season depending on  your soil fertility.

Here is a list of individual soil amendments, kitchen scraps and the nutrients they provide. You can combine these yourself if you have alot of roses to make a well- balanced fertilizer or use them individually to correct deficiencies you may have in your soil in your neck of the woods. Most are found at your local feed store. Also listed are some natural fungicides and insecticides.

Egg Shells  ------  Calcium                                                                          Baking Soda  -----------   Black Spot

Coffee Grounds -----------   Lowers ph                                                        Hydrogen Peroxide --------Black Spot, Root Rot

Banana Peels ------------Potassium                                                            Neem Oil -------------Black Spot

Epsom Salts ----------- Magnesium and Sulfur                                           Organicide --------------Black Spot, Thrips

Milorganite --------------Nitrogen and Iron                                                   Lady Bugs --------------aphids, spider mites

Actino-Iron -------------- Iron and Beneficial Soil fungi                                Beneficial Mites ------------  spider mites

Wood Ash ----------------Calcium and Potassium                                       Insecticidal Soap -------------- spider mites, aphids

Granite Dust ---------------Potassium                                                         Dr. Bronner's Soap ------------all insects, sticker

Greensand ----------------Potassium                                                          Green Cure ------------Black Spot

Gypsum ------------------ Calsium and Sulfur                                              Listerine ---------------- root rot, mosquitoes

Bone Meal -----------Phosphorus and Calcium                                         Liquid Seaweed ---------------- good bacteria

Alfalfa Meal ------------growth hormone                                                    Roses actually have a natural immunity to fungus.

Molasses ----------------Iron                                                                       Hand-picking diseased leaves goes a long way.

Kelp Meal -----------------Potassium and Trace Elements

Cottonseed meal ---------------Nitrogen (lowers ph)

Blood meal -----------------Nitrogen (may burn roots)

Garden Sulfur ---------------------Sulfur (lowers ph)

Sul-po-mag ----------------------Sulfur, Potassium, Magnesium  (may burn)

Sequestered or Chelated Iron _________ Iron

Rock Phosphate ------------------ Calcium (raises ph)

Too much Potassium kills good microbes

Any number over 10 kills good bacteria









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