Roses are hungry feeders that need a high level of nutrients throughout the growing season. If you want to show off your roses’ glossy foliage and color-rich blooms, you need to fertilize them regularly. But what is the best fertilizer for roses and what’s the correct way of feeding these plants? Let’s take a deeper look into these questions and offer our experience as to what works best.
Nutrients that Roses Need to Grow
Roses, just like other plants, need nutrients to grow. Here are the primary nutrients and macronutrients that roses need to thrive:
Phosphorus: this nutrient promotes healthy root growth and flower production. If your roses lack phosphorus, their flower stems weaken and the buds won’t open fully.
Nitrogen: a balanced amount of nitrogen encourages vigorous leaf growth and abundant flowers. Too little nitrogen can result in yellow leaves and stunted growth, while too much can result in fewer blooms and too much foliage.
Potassium: this nutrient helps these flowering plants to recover when attacked by insects or damaged by adverse weather conditions. If your roses lack potassium, the margins of their leaves will turn yellow and experience poorly developed buds.
Macronutrients: to thrive, roses also need magnesium, calcium, boron, zinc, sulfur, copper, manganese, and iron. Think of macronutrients and the flowers equivalent to the multi-vitamins you may take.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just give your rose a balanced diet and a multivitamin pill every day? Well, fertilizers are exactly that, a perfect blend of micronutrients and macronutrients often designed for specific plant species. So how do we know which is the best fertilizer for roses?
How to Choose the Best Rose Fertilizer?
There are two types of fertilizers for roses: organic and inorganic.
Organic fertilizer is slowly released into the soil over a longer period of time, whereas the inorganic type gets to work immediately. Organic fertilizers are derived from animal or plant matter with many nutritional advantages. However, they contain a low concentration of nutrients, decompose slower, and aren’t always ready-to-use, unlike chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
Some examples of natural fertilizers include:
- Composted animal manure (make sure it’s 3 or 4 years old as fresh manure can burn the roots)
- Bone meal for phosphorus
- Dried blood meal for nitrogen
- Greensand for potassium
- Seaweed for nitrogen
- Rock phosphate for calcium
All of these are great products to use to feed and nourish your roses, but they simply cannot match the effectiveness of a purpose-designed man-made chemical fertilizer that has been laboratory tested for performance.
Inorganic fertilizers are convenient products that are less expensive than natural rose fertilizers. These highly concentrated fertilizers can even revive dying roses immediately. The chemical fertilizer releases nutrients quickly into the soil, helping the plant to absorb them faster and more efficiently.
Whether you choose an organic formula or inorganic formula will down to your personal preference based on performance and ecological opinion.
The easiest way to choose the best nutrient feed for roses is to look for complete rose fertilizers as they contain the right amount of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen to keep your roses happy and healthy.
11 Best Fertilizers For Roses Reviews
If your roses are looking a little lackluster and need a pick-me-up to encourage new growth, then we can recommend this N-P-K 3-4-3 fertilizer as one of our all-time favorites. It’s been certified as organic by USDA which means that no chemical compounds have been added. Containing microorganism Archaea helps this product rapidly breakdown into the soil getting to work quicker than most other organic fertilizers.
We found that applying this particular fertilizer throughout the growing season will enhance the condition of your soil and promote exquisite blooms. It will also helps to prevent disease and protects against insect pests, and encourages a strong root mass and glossy foliage. We’ve ranked it in our list of the best fertilizer for roses based on our very positive experience over many years of using this product from Jobe’s.
I like to simply apply as a top dressing every month or two throughout the growing season (May-September) and lightly rake it into the topsoil. I will also sprinkle some around the root ball when transplanting roses from pots into a final position, which gives them a really good kick-start. I should highlight this product is also available as fertilizer spikes, and there’s a water-soluble version.
Customer reviews: the results for established plants were impressive with improvements seen in size and quantity of blooms, the vibrancy of color, and more luscious foliage. However, some users found this fertilizer to have an unpleasant odor and could be harsh on baby plants and seedlings.
- A great option for established plants that need an extra boost of nutrients
- Quickly pushes out new growth and delivers large healthy blooms
- For the ecologically minded a great organic product
- Pungent smell, but it is organic so not unexpected
Anyone who knows their roses knows how prone they can be to disease. This US organic approved rose food is great for helping your blooms build resilience against disease. It’s chemical-free, making it a totally safe choice to protect the environment and to use around kids and pets.
It’s packed with no less than 15 essential nutrients that are re-known to promote healthy rose growth, making it a complete and balanced food for your plants. Rose gardeners love this plant food because Espoma, the manufacturers of this product, include their trademark ingredient ‘Bio-tone’. This formula is known to release Microbes gradually into the soil to act as a slow-release feeder.
This rose 4-3-2 fertilizer is suitable for use throughout the growing season both for container-based plants and those planted in your borders and other outdoor areas. It’s even safe to use on other plants such as clematis, lilies, and peony too. Simply sprinkle the required amount around your plants and gently hoe in.
Another fertilizer feed that I have used over the years with great success and wouldn’t have a moment’s hesitation in recommending it to you. Very similar in performance to the Jobe’s with amazing blooms, with the added benefit of offering a good versatility for use with other species.
The final decision between 1st and 2nd place was purely based on my experience in my own garden. Jobe’s has given me a slightly better overall performance on foliage in my clay soil. But…some of my colleagues here at The Yard and Garden always use Espoma given the choice. You can pick up this great rose fertilizer online at Amazon.com.
Customer reviews: this is another high rating contender for the best fertilizer for roses list. Our growers were over the moon with how this fertilizer enhanced the growth and quantity of their roses.
- Preferred by specialist rose growers
- Complete rose food so no need for additional purchases
- Organic so perfect for the eco-fans
- Another stinker!
Let’s be clear here, there are various methods of feeding nutrients to roses. The preferred method for young roses is to water goodness directly into the soil and avoid granules altogether as this may burn your tender plants. This product is a water-soluble plant food meaning you’ll need to dilute the required quantity with water and then use a watering can to evenly distribute around the base of your plants.
Recommended for use throughout the growing season, you’ll need to feed this to your plants every one to two weeks. In return, you’ll see quick results, vigorous growth, and luscious foliage from this 18-24-16 fertilizer. This one is not organic, so it’s not an ideal choice if you have kids or pets but still worthy of a place in our best fertilizer for roses list – provided you’re careful.
I’m a big fan of Miracle-Gro, they are the perfect mass-market product. Simple to use, convenient, and a great choice if you’re not sure about some of the more specialist products on our list. Think of it as a great middle-ground product.
Customer reviews: it does produce excellent results but it’s expensive for the amount you get. Buy Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food
- Great for young and tender plants
- Produces good results quickly
- The ultimate convenience product
- You’ll need to buy a bigger quantity to keep your blooms fed throughout the growing season
- Expensive over a full growing season compared to some other brands
Back to an organic variety of rose fertilizer now and this time it’s from Dr. Earth. It’s made from 100% natural ingredients with a 5-7-2 N-P-K, but this one doesn’t contain chicken manure however don’t be fooled, it still stinks. Look, that’s the price we have to pay to be environmentally conscious right! In all seriousness, the smell you have from organic fertilizers will dissipate over time and your roses will love you for it.
This one boasts the inclusion of Ecto and Endo Mycorrhizae which can help your blooms if they are susceptible to drought conditions, so really beneficial. However, if you do struggle from dry conditions I would also recommend heavy mulching to add more organic material to your soil over time. Roses love to be kept in good moist soil and won’t reward you with glorious blooms if they dry out too much.
It contains other beneficial ingredients and soil microbes to help improve the overall texture of your soil as well as increasing the size and volume of your blooms. Plus all of the basic macronutrients to feed your plant. Available at all good garden stores and online here at Amazon
Customer reviews: this fertilizer provides the option of gently digging directly into the soil around your plants or steeping in water for 24 hours before pouring it around the plants. Some of our reviewers found the latter to produce an offensive smell that was very attractive to dogs.
- Contains ingredients that help improve soil condition in drought condition
- Dig directly into the soil or use it as a liquid fertilizer
- Pet safe
- Very smelly despite the omission of chicken manure
- Dogs seem to love eating it
The next contender in our list is manufactured by UK based Uncle Toms and is recommended by our friends at Roses UK, the prestigious organization funded by the British Association Of Rose Breeders. This is a great product for roses that are susceptible to disease or pests. It is also successfully used to encourage new growth and increase the size of your blooms during the growing season.
Although this one does contain chemicals and is therefore not organic, this does an outstanding job of preventing fungus growth and controlling pests. You’ll need to use this to feed your roses every 14 days throughout the season for the best results. But you must keep it away from children and pets.
I’ve used this product a few times, and it’s excellent. I would suggest if you’re serious about your roses you check them out. I’m not a specialist rose grower so I find Jobe’s product just suits my way of gardening better. But there’s no doubt if it’s good enough for the guys over at Roses UK, it’s as good as you can get. Thankfully it’s available online at Amazon.
Customer reviews: easy to read / straightforward instructions on how to administer this fertilizer to get the best out of your blooms. Outstanding rose protection.
- Great for keeping pests and disease away from your roses
- Encourages new growth and larger blooms
- Specialist product available from the UK
- Contains chemicals that may be harmful to kids and pets
If you simply don’t have the time to feed your roses regularly throughout the growing season then this organic rose fertilizer may suit your style of gardening. The granular formula needs to be administered just twice a season whilst your roses are growing and are suitable to use as a feed for roses and shrubs. A great option for the casual gardener.
This is a great option for climbing or rambling roses that may otherwise be lost in borders and hedges. The balance of nutrients contained in this product encourages root development and will really help to showcase your roses against a lush green backdrop. Contains Iron and Magnesium.
Apply once in spring and summer. Simply sprinkle around the base, dig or hoe lightly into the soil, water liberally and watch your roses and shrubs come into their own! Or sprinkle around the root ball of roses when transplanting.
Customer reviews: perfect for those who love their garden but are short on time. Some reviewers found the granules had formed clumps during transportation which were difficult to break up before administering to the soil. Check latest prices here.
- Only needs to be applied twice during the growing season
- Suitable for roses that grow in hedgerows and among shrubs
- Product can be difficult to administer and may need breaking up before use
The Ross Rose fertilizer refills (15-25-10) will let you get directly to the root cause of your roses fertilizing needs with the help of a cleaver feeder chamber devise (the Ross Root Feeder) that attaches to your garden hose. Make light work of a sometimes messy job by following the easy to use and clear instructions. Simply drop the pre-measured fertilizer refills into the Root Feeder device and then attach directly to your water supply.
Ok, so this fertilizer is not organic, but contact and contamination from chemicals can be kept to a minimum if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and because the product is delivered directly into the soil near the root system, water run-off and evaporation can be avoided. Buy it here.
Customer reviews: this product can be used to supply nutrients and encourage root strength and growth to other trees and plants in addition to roses. Some users found the water flow to be disappointing but put this down to the design of the root feeder device rather than the fertilizer.
It’s the cleaver cap dispenser that sets this plant food apart from the others in our list of rose fertilizers. This is another one that will minimize the amount of contact you need to have with the product as you dispense it around your plants. Simply open the cap and shake n’ feed and lightly dig in or rake. There you go, Miracle-Gro finding the convenience ‘sweet spot’ again and making it easy to buy from Amazon.com.
Whilst not organic, this 10-18-9 fertilizer gets to work by feeding the microbes in your soil with natural ingredients, which in turn nourishes not only the soil but also your rose blooms. The end result is better root growth, stronger plants, and bigger, better foliage and flowers. This product can be used for established roses as well as those new to your garden and better still, it only needs administering every 3 months, so basically twice over the growing season.
Customer reviews: the manufacturer provides specific guidance on how much of the fertilizer granules to administer. Too much product could harm your plants.
- Cap dispenser design allows for contact-free scattering
- Plants only need feeding once every 3 months
- Another super convenient product from Miracle-Gro
- Too much feed can damage plants, follow instructions
These Miracle-Gro Watering Can ‘Singles’ will make light work of the preparation required for fertilizing your roses with handy individual sachets. Simply fill your watering can with the required amount of water and add the number of sachets you need before watering your roses. It’s a great way to keep any irritants out of harm’s way both when using and storing the product.
This fertilizer is suitable for general use on shrubs, trees, houseplants, vegetables, and fruit as well as on your treasured roses so there really is no need to buy two types of fertilizer. It gets to work straight away which means you’ll see results quickly. Apply every 2 weeks throughout the growing season. It will work out more expensive than most of the other products on our list but for general use it hard to beat and very convenient. Hmm, I may have I said that before about Micarcle-Gro!
Customer reviews: this product really does get to work right away with most users seeing results within days. This fertilizer does come with the additional plastic packaging that some found gimmicky. They said it was not very environmentally friendly and did not represent good value for money.
- Works as a fertilizer for many different plants including roses and even, trees and shrubs
- Gets to work quickly
- Additional plastic packaging feels unnecessary
- Not a specialist rose fertilizer
Back to the organics now and we couldn’t help but include Plant Tone that is manufactured by Espoma. Similar to Rose Tone, it will work nicely on your roses but will also do wonders for the other flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs in your garden. Espoma uses their trademark formula ‘Bio Tone’ again here. It’s a combination of nutrients that enhances the strength and vigor of your plants as well as producing vibrant blooms.
For your roses, use Plant Tone once per month throughout the growing season. It’s a slow-release 5-3-3 fertilizer made from a combination of natural and organic ingredients and is suitable to use both with new plants and established plants. If you’re looking to buy just one organic fertilizer for general garden use, then you will not go wrong with Plant Tone. Check the latest price online here.
Customer reviews: unlike some fertilizers, our reviewers found this to be suitable for young plants as well as established ones. Some said they would have been put off by the unpleasant odor were it not for the outstanding results this organic fertilizer provides.
- Use on roses as well as trees, shrubs, plants, and flowers
- A great choice if you don’t want to have to buy several different specialist fertilizers for your garden
- Strong odor until it gets washed into the soil
This liquid fertilizer gets to work on your roses and plants straight away with its fast-acting formula. The micro-nutrients in this rose feeder mean you’ll start seeing bigger and healthier blooms, root growth, and stronger plants very quickly. You also get the benefit of slow-release nutrients that will continue to nourish your plants for up to 3 months.
This fertilizer is manufactured by Schultz and is water-soluble, which gives it the fast-acting effect, being drawn straight into the plant’s roots. You just need to carefully measure the quantity you need into the cap, add it to a filled watering can, and water it into the soil around your plants.
Customer reviews: the results were quick, impressive and long lasting. Ideal for garden lovers with a busy life. Buy online here.
- Water-soluble and no need for stirring and fast-acting
- Ingredient list means your plants will benefit in the short and medium-term
- Contains chemicals that may be harmful to pets and children
How to Fertilize Rose Plants?
Many rose gardeners prefer combining organic and chemical fertilizers for the best results. This is because organic fertilizers are generally slow-acting and lower in nutrients compared to inorganic products, so you may wish to supplement your roses with a combination of the two. Let’s run through some tips and advice on fertilizing your rose plants successfully:
- Before planting your roses in early spring, use organic fertilizers to avoid burning the plant’s delicate roots. This is the best way to get your roses accustomed to new nutrients in the soil. After adding the nutrients to the soil, wait until your roses bloom for the first time before using chemical fertilizers.
- When using granular chemical or natural fertilizers, be sure to spread the mix in a circle around the top of the soil (6 inches) starting from the base of the plant and working it to the top of the soil. For liquid fertilizers, simply pour them in a circle (6 inches) from the base of the rose bush.
- To encourage healthy growth, give your rose plants extra sulfur and magnesium in the form of Epsom salt. This should be done two weeks after the first fertilizing begins. Simply mix the Epsom salt nutrient into the soil and water well. These nutrients are essential for growth and enhance the plant’s roots and flowers.
If you’re feeling creative here are two of our recipes for an early spring organic fertilizer:
1. Combine the Epsom salt with bone meal, blood meal, and the fish meal. (Yes, the mixture is smelly but it’s a good start for a gentle feed).
2. Water your rose bush thoroughly first before spreading the mixture around the plant’s base. Work the mixture into the soil (2 inches deep) until it’s completely buried.
3. Water the rose bush again after applying the fertilizer.
Banana skins or peels contain potassium and can be used as either compost or buried directly in the soil (4-6 inches deep). To promote faster composting, grind the banana peels in a blender or cut them up into small pieces. Use this natural feed before planting your roses in spring.
How often to Fertilize Roses?
Apply organic fertilizers once a month during high growth season starting from early spring up until 4 weeks before your roses enter dormancy. You can also use chemical fertilizers after they bloom for the first time until dormancy.
Note: Applying fertilizers too early or late can damage the rose plants and cause soft growth. To prepare your roses for dormancy, stop fertilizing 8 weeks before the first frost.
Potted roses need more frequent fertilizing than those in the garden. Feed your container roses every 3 weeks and whenever you notice the foliage is turning a little yellow.
(Well we did say they are hungry feeders!).
If you’re applying granular fertilizer, feed the roses every 2 or 3 weeks during the high growth season.
When is the Best Time to Fertilize Roses?
The very first feeding should start around mid to late spring after the frost has gone and again every 2 to 3 weeks until the fall months. It’s best to stop feeding 6-8 weeks before any frost if you live in a colder climate. This will allow any tender shoots to become hardy enough to survive frost damage.
Best Fertilizer for Roses Conclusion
From healthy spring growth to plentiful blooms, who said growing roses is hard work. Choosing the best fertilizer for roses and knowing how often to feed them will ensure you enjoy the rose garden of your dreams year after year.
Our list contains a product to suit every gardener, whether you’re a die-hard specialist rose grower or a sunny weather gardener who just need a convenient fertilize and forget rose food. Why not share your experiences with our readers and help us help them to find the right product for their gardens.