Graham Thomas, Abraham Darby, and Falstaff David Austin shrub roses.
Do you love roses?
I do….
In fact, at one time – I had 40 rose bushes growing in my garden in our first house.  I lovingly tended them and was rewarded with gorgeous blooms.
Years later, I don’t have quite as many roses in my current garden, but I love growing them just as much as I did years ago.
Abraham Darby
Because we grow roses for their beautiful blooms, I learned some tips from rose-growing experts on how to maximize blooms and the health of my rose bushes.
 
So, I’m going to share them with you.
*Basic rose care consists of fertilizing your roses in spring, using a fertilizer specially formulated for roses. You can do this and have a lovely rose bush. However, if you want the biggest and most floriferous rose bushes in your neighborhood, you’ll want to follow these tips. 
 
1. In spring, grab your broom (yes, I said a broom) and make six holes around each rose bush (about 1 ft. from the base).  Each hole should be 6 – 8 inches deep.  
 
2. For this next step, you will need 6 cups of compost, 3 cups of composted steer (or chicken or horse) manure, 1/2 cup of Epsom salts, the recommended amount of your favorite rose fertilizer and two handfuls of alfalfa pellets per rose bush.
 
So how do these ingredients help your roses?
– The compost improves your soil by adding fertility, increasing its ability to hold the right amount of water and feeds microorganisms in the soil.
– Using manure adds a natural source of nitrogen that is slowly released into the soil.  Make sure the manure is composted (aged) before using, or it can ‘burn’ your roses.
– Head to your nearest feed store and pick up some alfalfa pellets.  When alfalfa breaks down in the soil, it releases an alcohol (triacontanol) that roses love.  They respond to it by growing more branches (basal breaks) from the bud union AND increases the number of roses and their size.  
Falstaff
 
3. Mix all the ingredients together and then pour the mixture into each of the holes.  Work any extra mixture into the top inch of soil around your roses.  By adding the mixture into the holes, you are putting them right where the roots are.
4.  Water deeply to 18 inches.
That’s it!  Follow these tips, and your roses will soon be the envy of all your neighbors.
 
But, I’m not finished yet….
 
If you want to do even more….then follow this next step:
 
5. Add liquid fertilizer to your roses monthly during the growing season.
 
**In hot, dry desert climates – your roses will slow down their growth during the heat of summer because it is hard for them to focus on growth when it is hot.  Apply liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength once a month beginning in May and lasting through August. In September begin your regular fertilizer schedule for beautiful, fall roses.

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Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

5 replies
  1. Indie
    Indie says:

    Wow, fantastic tips! I don't know a whole lot about growing roses and am just rather winging it with the few roses I got a couple years ago. Thanks for the advice!

    Reply
  2. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Love roses, but can't get them to last more than 6 months on my dry island. There must be some old tropical spec varieties but don't know where to get them.

    Reply

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