By: Seth Benson, redaltissimo[at]yahoo[dot]com
I am sure that most rosarians follow the tried and true method of fertilizing their roses: that is, every month with some form of granular mix that is scratched and watered in. I fertilize, as the title says, to a different drummer. The vast majority of my roses are in pots, clustered near my car port. They receive sun half a day and shade the rest. The watering system runs every other day for 15 minutes before the time change and for 30 minutes every day after the time change in April. Since I water every day, I feel I must fertilize more often then most since the nutrients tend to flush through rather rapidly.
I have been at this house for about four years and although there is substantial back yard area for roses with good sun, my roses seem to do better in pots with shade in the afternoon. This is southeast Georgia after all, and the temps can be brutal in the summer time. I believe this past year we had several weeks of 100+ degree weather every day. Lack of rain was also a problem. So, not wishing to feed every tree in the neighborhood, I decided to grow my roses in large landscape pots that were watered every day and fed every week. Yes, I said every week.
The only way to accomplish this is to feed soluble fertilizers. Now, many will say this is a labor intensive process because the fertilizers have to be mixed and then sprayed on the roses. Au contrare! Every Sunday afternoon, I go to my roses and apply one tablespoon of the “soluble fertilizer of the week” to the base of each large rose and one teaspoon to the base of each mini. At 4:30 or 5:00 PM the water comes on and they are fed for the week. It’s so simple that even a child can do it. I have tried to train the cat, but he doesn’t seem to be interested.
What sort of fertilizer analyses am I using? That depends on what I can get my hands on at the local store. This past summer I was operating on a seven-week rotation of the following, not necessarily in the order given: Miracle-Gro For Roses, Schultz Bloom Plus 10-60-10, Super Bloom 12-55-6, Grow More All Purpose 15-30-15, Peters 20-20-20, Peters 10-10-10, Peters Blossom Booster 10-50-10, and once in awhile I would throw in an added bonus of Alaska Fish Emulsion 5-1-1 fed through the lines via a siphon mixer. These brands are not set in stone, because they aren’t always available, but anything comparable will do. The roses don’t care as long as the food is there and they can get it. That’s why I like soluble…it’s easier for me and it’s easier for them. There is no needed breakdown to a liquid state as there would be if I used granular. It’s already liquid when they get it.
This is the lazy man’s way but when one has over 100 roses to deal with, I believe one has the right to be somewhat laid back. There is nothing more relaxing on a late Sunday afternoon then to sit in a lounge chair in the shade on the carport, a cool something in my hand, and watch the roses get their fix for the week. So far they seem to be very happy with that. As long as they are happy, I am happy.
We have a saying down here in the South that characterizes it very well – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It ain’t broke.
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