As ornamental plants, roses need plenty of care. Aside from common issues like insects and weather, roses are also prone to disease if left unattended. Any slip-up will affect your rose’s health, which lowers their value and makes them less likely to survive until full bloom.
That’s where rose fertilizer comes in. Not only do they come packed with the micronutrients that your rose needs for more beautiful blooms, but they also help reinforce its body against disease, improve its resilience against pests, and assists in the nutrient collection from the soil. With consistent application and proper care, you can expect a garden of gorgeous flowers with no hassle.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best rose fertilizer brands that you can buy for your garden. We take a detailed look at their ingredients, why they work well for roses, and how to pick a brand that works for your plot.
- The 7 Best Rose Fertilizers On The Market Right Now
- Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food
- Bayer Advanced 701110A All in One Rose and Flower Care
- Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Rose Plant Food
- Jobe’s Organics Rose & Flower Fertilizer Spikes
- Espoma RT4 Rose-Tone Plant Food
- Dr. Earth Total Advantage Rose & Flower Fertilizer
- Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus
- How To Pick The Best Fertilizer For Roses
The 7 Best Rose Fertilizers On The Market Right Now
While these fertilizers deal with almost any kind of rose, they have a few differences in their nutrient concentration that make them work better for specific rose species and soil types. Understanding these differences is the best way to get the most out of each product.
For an easy-to-apply formula that takes care of your roses in and out, the Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food is an excellent choice for most gardens. Able to fertilize both the flower and the soil at once, it’s a long-lasting formula that can help keep your plot healthy for an entire season.
The NPK ratio of this product is 10-16-10, which is a balanced ratio that’s perfect for most flower beds. A high amount of phosphorus means that you have better flowering when the roses are ready to bloom, which is great for gardeners that are keeping them to sell as ornamental plants.
The best feature of this fertilizer is that it’s a general-purpose brand that you can apply to both potted roses or rose beds. It’s a long-lasting formula that can stick around for as long as three months before it needs reapplication and require little maintenance and handling aside from the initial measuring of the product.
It has ingredients like bone meal, kelp, and earthworm castings for an organic blend that suits most soil types. This also has the effect of changing the nutrient content of the soil without affecting it as much as synthetic fertilizers. It works by feeding the microbes in your soil more nutrients, which your roses can draw from for better growth.
To apply, just spread an even layer on your soil, then mix it with the first one to three centimeters with a hand rake. Water thoroughly and leave it be for the next three months. Since the organic components take some time to break down in the soil, there’s no need for you to apply it again till the next season.
One drawback to using this formula is that you can’t dilute it in water, which means you can’t stretch out your bottle if you need a larger area to cover. It also doesn’t work on the actual rose bush itself, so you might have some difficulty applying it to mature rose bushes.
This formula also works on other flowering plants, so if you have other flowers aside from roses, it’ll work well. It’s a superb choice for ornamental plots that have a lot of species on display or potted arrangements around your home.
The Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food is great all-around fertilizer to use for roses. Combined with an affordable price point, we recommend this brand to anyone who’s looking to reintroduce new life into their rose garden.
For nutrient-rich rose gardens that need more resilience against pests and other diseases, the Bayer Advanced 701110A All in One Rose and Flower Care is the product to use. A 3-in-1 synthetic fertilizer that enriches the soil, it also functions as an excellent insect repellant and disease control solution.
With a fertilizer ratio of 6-9-6, it provides an even mixture of nutrients that your rose needs to grow. However, because of the other chemicals included in the mix, it’s much lower in overall fertilizer content compared to other brands. For best results, use this on healthy roses with good soil to further enhance their growth.
What we like about this product is that it has a more direct role in ensuring that your blooms stay healthy. Other fertilizers have an indirect way of building up a plant’s strength against insects and sickness, but the added components make it more effective as an active agent in keeping your roses in excellent condition.
The ingredients in this product are synthetic based, which can be an issue for young seedlings or certain kinds of soil. It’s composed of fast-acting chemical agents that kill pests and controls conditions like mildew, rust, and southern blight, but the concentration is pre-measured and can’t be diluted.
To apply, start by filling the cap up to capacity, 1 capful for 1 rose plant. Then sprinkle the granules evenly on the soil around the base of the plant and work them 1 to 2 inches inside your topsoil. Water or sprinkle thoroughly after application, reapplying every six weeks. Adjust depending on your earliest results, but don’t go over 2 capfuls per rose plant as that can harm their root networks.
While this product does a marvelous job in controlling aphids, lace bugs, or leaf beetles, users have reported that it can also harm local fauna like bees and other pollinators. If you’re in an area with plenty of wildlife, you should opt for an organic-based fertilizer to avoid harming insects you need to keep alive.
Another reason this works so well for roses is that it’s water-resistant after it’s reached your plant’s root system. It can’t be washed away by rain or by irrigation, which is handy for roses that require frequent watering to bloom well. Combined with regular application, you can expect pest-free plots filled with beautiful blooms.
New rose beds often have trouble absorbing granule-based fertilizers, since their root systems aren’t developed yet. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Rose Plant Food is a cost-effective solution to anyone just starting out with their rose garden, giving your blooms a little boost to help them grow quicker and stronger.
With an NPK of 18-24-16, this fertilizer is jam-packed with all the micronutrients your young roses need to grow. The increased amount of phosphorus encourages young roses to spread their root systems, allowing them to get the most amount of nutrients from the soil. In the crucial early weeks of a freshly planted rose, establishing a root network is critical for them to grow well.
The water-soluble feature is the best part of this product since it lets you fertilize and water your roses in one go. You don’t have to fertilize each rose bush separately, saving you time from micromanaging your plot. Young roses need a lot of feeding and watering in the early stages, and while granular fertilizer can still work for the soil, the plant itself won’t get much use out of it.
The ingredients are synthetic, so they’ll work faster on your plants than organic products do. This means that you’ll have to be extra careful with your application since too much can burn your young roses before they even get the chance to grow. Synthetics also have a higher chance of changing soil content, so make sure that you’re only applying this formula on rose beds or pots.
To use on outdoor plants, mix 1 tablespoon of product for every gallon of water. Fill your watering can (or a Miracle-Gro garden feeder) to mix the formula, then soak the base of your plants with an even spray. Use ½ teaspoon per gallon of water for indoor plants, as their smaller soil area doesn’t need that much saturation. Apply every 1 to 2 weeks for the best results.
One thing to keep in mind when using this product is that since it’s water-soluble, it’s not compatible with gardens that have sandy soil or see plenty of rain. Excess water will dilute or wash away the solution before your roses absorb it, and it can leach outside of cracked pots and damaged containers.
But if you follow the recommended fertilizer-to-water ratio and apply the formula consistently, you’re guaranteed to get vibrant and healthy young roses in as early as two weeks. It requires a little more active management on the plot, but the benefits to your plants outweigh the increased effort.
Organic fertilizers are a wonderful choice if you’re worried about the potential effect fertilizer has on a rose garden that’s frequented by pets and children. OMRI-certified for organic gardening and safe for the environment, Jobe’s Organics Rose & Flower Fertilizer Spikes are perfect to use on gardens close to wildlife, preventing any damage to the soil and the environment.
Like most organic fertilizer, the NPK ratio of this fertilizer is around 3-5-3, which makes it perfect for flower beds that are nutrient-rich and well-watered. While it’s not as strong as synthetic fertilizers, it integrates better with your flower bed, which makes your soil perform better without overloading it with macronutrients.
The best part about this fertilizer is its spiked packaging. Waterproof and easy to apply, they also don’t have runoff or any waste, unlike granules or water-soluble brands. It stays underground so your topsoil is unaffected, which is great if you have other flowers or are doing vermicomposting in the same bed.
The organic ingredients include feather/bone meal and Jobe’s proprietary Biozome formula. These microorganisms latch on to your rose bushes, making them more resistant to insects and drought, aside from improving their overall health. And since your soil isn’t affected by the all-organic compounds, you don’t have to worry about any unexpected changes to it every time you fertilize.
To apply, hammer the spikes near the base of your roses at the start of the growing season. Cover it up with one to two inches of topsoil and water thoroughly. Since it’s a slow-release fertilizer, you don’t have to replace it until the following year.
Overall, this is an user-friendly and affordable way of keeping small rose plots healthy and blooming with little effort. If you’re keeping potted roses that you don’t have a lot of time to maintain, this is the fertilizer you should get.
A favorite of many rose enthusiasts, Espoma’s RT4 Rose-Tone Plant Food is a microbe-rich mix that works well with almost any kind of soil and rose variety. Complete with the 15 essential nutrients needed to grow healthy flowering plants, it’s also 100% organic and safe for the environment.
With an NPK ratio of 4-3-2, it’s a fertilizer that helps boost the early stages of your roses’ growth. The natural microbes will mix well with the bacteria found in your soil, turning it into a nutrient-rich environment with repeat applications.
What we like about this product is that it’s made for roses, which require consistent yet careful feeding for the best results. It’s the fertilizer of choice for many prize-winning rose gardens and is accredited for organic gardening by professional rosarians and gardeners alike. With zero effect on the environment and the surrounding wildlife, it also works as a great all-purpose feed for any flowering plant.
Nutrients such as calcium help stave off potential diseases like black rot, which can destroy many established rose gardens if left unattended. The mix of organic compounds is perfect for new and growing buds, helping them grow faster and bloom better without disturbing the natural balance of bacteria in your soil.
Since it’s a slow-acting and long-lasting fertilizer, all you have to do is to apply it once a month during the growing season, following the instructions on the package. The granulated form makes measuring easier, and you can correct overdosing by removing the excess formula and placing it somewhere else.
A potential but small concern that some users have noted is that the smell of the fertilizer can be extremely strong after it rains. But aside from that, this is an excellent feed that you can use in your garden for amazing and colorful blooms.
If you have an extensive rose garden that you need to maintain, Dr. Earth’s Total Advantage Rose & Flower Fertilizer is an affordable alternative to buying multiple packs of feed. With bags from 4 to 25 pounds, it’s a general-purpose fertilizer that can make your plants more resilient to outside shocks.
With a 5-7-2 NPK ratio, it’s suited for raised beds that have plenty of large and abundant blooms that need the extra nitrogen. It works by loosening and improving soil texture, allowing your roses to grow their root systems for optimal nutrient absorption. The increased access to nutrients helps to reinforce their cell walls, which helps them grow better.
What we like about this product is that it’s optimized for use on large flower beds, especially ones where you transplant the roses. Transplanting a rose to a new plot or pot can cut off their access to nutrients and disturb their root systems, which results in decreased nutrient absorption. Applying this formula to the surrounding soil allows them to keep up with these changes suffering no damage.
This formula also contains a healthy amount of probiotics, which helps boost the nutrients in your soil. It makes them break down faster with the help of the native bacteria so that your roses have better access to much-needed nutrients, which are helpful for sudden mid-season changes or transplants.
To apply, just mix an even layer of the formula on the topsoil of your bed. Water thoroughly and reapply after six weeks. Because of a sizable amount of product, we suggest starting with small doses on potted plants and a thin but consistent layer on top of your beds.
You should see results within two to three weeks, though expect the long-term effects to come in around the budding season. Because it boosts drought resilience, you can apply it during warmer seasons with no issue.
If you’re growing roses in hot conditions, finding a fertilizer that won’t evaporate with the heat can be difficult. Osmocote’s Smart-Release Plant Food Plus is designed for flower beds in warmer temperatures, making them more resistant to drought, better at getting minerals from the soil, and improving their water retention.
It has an NPK ratio of 15-9-12, which makes it suited for young and blooming rose bushes. It’s a general-purpose fertilizer that works with a variety of soils and rose types, since it’s an inorganic formula that kick-starts the nutrient development in the soil. Inorganic fertilizers can be used by the plant immediately, which improves its development and blooms.
The best feature about this product is the smart-release coating of their granules. They’re encased in a special soybean-based resin shell that allows water to release the nutrients inside. But they’re also activated by heat, which helps your roses survive a rough active growing period under hot conditions.
With 11 essential nutrients for feeding plants, it can improve both your soil quality and your plant health. A slow-release mechanism ensures that excess irrigation or hot weather won’t render the ingredients inert, while the inorganic formula means that your plants get the nutrients they want when they need it.
It’s also easy to use. Just sprinkle 1 scoopful (or 3 tablespoons) of plant food per 2 gallons or 4 square feet. Mix into the top 3 inches of your soil. Water consistently and reapply after six months. For best results, time your application around the beginning and middle of the planting season.
A minor complaint that most users have is that the shells themselves don’t dissolve even after all they have used the nutrients, which can be an issue if there are pets or children around that need to be protected from choking hazards. You may have to remove these shells when you reapply fertilizer to keep your garden looking tidy.
How To Pick The Best Fertilizer For Roses
Now that you know the top brands, how do you figure out what is the best fertilizer for roses in your garden? Here are 7 things that you need to keep in mind when you buy.
Fertilizers will come with an NPK ratio, which is the concentrations of the three major nutrients your rose needs:
Nitrogen (N), which improves a plant’s stem strength and nutrient pathways. Crucial for the early stages when your rose is still growing.
Phosphorus (P), which encourages stronger root systems. Important for growing roses that need plenty of nutrients.
Potassium (K), which makes your roses more resilient to pests and disease. Also helps with producing more vibrant colors when they bloom.
Your fertilizer’s NPK ratio will determine how well it suits your particular plot. If you’re not sure what to get, try to take something that’s balanced in nutrients like a 10-10-10 mix.
Synthetic vs Organic
There are two types of fertilizers that you can use on your roses, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Synthetic fertilizers are nutrients that are extracted from chemical mixes. They act faster than organic brands and deliver nutrients straight to the plant, which can be lifesaving if they’re malnourished. However, they can also affect the environment, so you need to be careful when using them.
Organic fertilizers are made from natural components such as manure, animal parts, and plant extracts. They take longer to work on plants, but they integrate better with the soil and don’t harm the native flora and fauna of the area.
Decide the tradeoffs of each formula before buying, since they can have long-reaching effects far beyond your rose garden.
Soil quality matters in the health of your roses. Your ideal soil should contain the right mixture of nutrients and bacteria that your plants can use to grow. Any deficiencies and changes in the soil quality can impact your blooms, which is why experts recommend getting a soil test before using any kind of fertilizer.
Soil quality will determine the roses suited for your eventual garden, but they also control the NPK ratio your fertilizer needs to balance out the soil nutrients. Using an incompatible NPK ratio with your soil can have disastrous results like subpar blooms or non-flowering bushes.
Some fertilizers act within hours of application, delivering their nutrients straight to your roses and the surrounding soil. Others act on a delayed timer, saturating the area around your bushes with minerals.
These differences are crucial because some roses need nutrients earlier than others: for example, flowers that are on the brink of death or are being transplanted to other plots. The release mechanism also determines how often you need to fertilize your soil. Faster brands need reapplication every week, while slow-acting ones can last for up to 6 months.
Granulated Or Water-Soluble
Rose fertilizers are available in granulated or water-soluble formulas, which can affect how often and how much product you’re going to use.
Granulated formulas (or dry products) can be sprinkled over rose bushes and last longer than water-soluble brands. They’re easier to apply since you can just pick them up if you drop them and have a slow-release mechanism that suits growing roses.
Water-soluble formulas are convenient since you can fertilize and water your plants which is more efficient for larger rose gardens. They also act faster since they enter the rose’s nutrient pathways, which can be helpful for mature or diseased roses that need immediate attention.
While they’re part of the same family, roses can differ in nutritional requirements. They aren’t the most delicate of plants, but some species need more attention than others.
For example, Little Mischief roses are well-suited for amateur florists, since they’re perfect for containers, don’t take up too much space, and look beautiful in any setting. Since they don’t take up a lot of room, you can opt for a fertilizer that has a higher concentration of potassium, helping them bloom better.
Red Eden roses are tall climber roses, so they need strong root systems to ensure that they don’t collapse under their own weight. A fertilizer with a higher phosphorus ratio can help keep their root systems strong and healthy, aside from giving them better access to nutrients in the soil.
Season And Weather Changes
Roses need constant feeding year-round for beautiful blooms, even during the winter months. Applying fertilizer with a high nitrogen ratio during fall can help provide them with all the nutrients they can’t get from the soil in the harsher weather.
If your area sees frequent rain, getting a water-resistant or granulated formula can help feed your roses better. They don’t get washed away by the excess water, and the frequent rainfall can help release their nutrients into the soil without you doing anything.
Roses And Special Fertilizers
A question many beginners will ask when fertilizing roses is whether they need special rose-only fertilizer. While it’s true that all-purpose fertilizers for flowers can work on roses, the answer to the question is a little more complex.
Special fertilizers for roses are made for professional growers or people that make roses to sell. These brands may have very specific NPK ratios that develop roses in a certain way for a more favorable result. They’re effective, but you should understand the rose variety and soil type that you’re working with before you use them.
General-purpose fertilizers can be introduced with almost any kind of soil type, rose species, and growing conditions. However, you need to be careful with their dosage as these brands often front-load their formulas with high NPK ratios, which can be tricky to use with seedlings or diseased roses.
Choosing between these two types will depend on your understanding of how your garden is set up, and what you want from your growing roses.
The best rose fertilizer can help keep your roses healthy growing up, but they also contribute to making them more vibrant when they bloom. If you want to get picture-perfect roses that you’ll love to keep around for display or prune to sell, using the right fertilizer can give your garden a boost.
If you’re looking for the best all-around fertilizer for roses, we recommend Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Rose & Bloom Plant Food. Bayer Advanced 701110A All in One Rose and Flower Care is perfect for mature rose bushes that need extra protection against pests and other diseases, while Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Rose Plant Food gives young seedlings the support necessary to grow into the budding season.
Just keep in mind that fertilizer works best when you have an active role in managing your garden and know enough about the rose variety and soil type to pick the brand that works best. With consistent application and a little bit of time, you’re well on your way to growing a garden of beautiful roses every season.