Organic Rose Food

Sally Painter
Fish products are great organic foods for your roses.

Organic rose food comes in several forms and has special benefits that produce healthy blooms.

Organic Fertilizer For Better Roses

Roses require more feeding than most plants because of the long blooming period. You can have healthier plants by using organic fertilizers. Your organically-grown roses will have stronger roots and typically produce larger blooms.

Organic Rose Food: Ocean Product Fertilizers

There are several types of fish fertilizers you can use to feed your roses. The rose variety and what nutrients you need in order to amend your soil to provide all of the desired nutrients determine which rose food you'll select.

How It's Made

Fish emulsion and fish meal are created by recycling the leftovers of fish processed for human consumption. These leftovers are cooked at a high temperature to extract the fish oils. The oils are then used to manufacture other products. The leftover liquid from this process is a highly-concentrated fish protein. This liquid is dried into what is known as fish meal.

Fish Meal

Fish meal is a favorite choice among rose growers because it enriches the soil with healthy bacteria. In meal form, the fish protein releases slowly and continues to feed your roses over a longer period of time.

Feeding your roses with fish meal requires you to work the meal into the soil and then slowly water it as you continue to mix it into the soil. A drip system is a good way to assure proper delivery of the fish proteins. Don't just add the meal and then sprinkle water over the top layer of soil because the moisture won't reach the fish meal to properly disperse it. Top-layer watering will create a strong fish odor that quickly draws garden pests.

Fish Emulsions

The final byproduct of this extraction process is a thick condensed liquid that ranges from a dark to medium brown hue. This is the fish emulsion. It's typically used as a foliar spray (beneficial bacteria for roses) high in NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium).Warnings:

  • The intense fish odor can attract garden pests, especially animals, into your rose garden.
  • If using a hose sprayer for the foliar spraying be aware that the emulsion often clogs the sprayer.

Fish Hydrolysate

This process uses all parts of the fish. Some forms are powdered and don't have any of the valuable fish oils in them. Others are produced in liquid form. It's highly acidic and the cold press process allows the fish (gurry) to decay faster. To counter this natural reaction, manufacturers add phosphoric acid to the mixture. The natural enzymes help stabilize the hydrolysate. All of the nutrients, enzymes, proteins, amino acids, and vitamins found in a whole fish are found in hydrolysate. It's a versatile product since it can be used either as a soil additive or a foliar spray.

Other Organic Foods For Your Roses

Fish products aren't the only organic food for your roses.

Kelp Not Just Any Seaweed

There are other kinds of organic food you can use to feed your roses including kelp. Be warned that not all seaweed is kelp; however, all kelp is a seaweed. Kelp contains quite a few beneficial nutrients, amino acids and carbohydrates.

Two ways to distinguish between kelp seaweed and seaweed:

  • You will find kelp only growing in cold water.
  • Kelp is a large-leafed seaweed of various brown hues.

Benefits of Kelp:

  • Promotes root growth
  • Makes plant stronger and more resistant against heat and cold
  • Enriches bloom color
  • Helps roses resist drought conditions

How to Use:

  • Typical foliar spray
  • Soil amendment - work into soil by watering as you mix

Alfalfa, Bone Meal, Greensand, and Manure

You can also use manure (rabbit, chicken, turkey, and others) and alfalfa to help build a nourishing bed of soil for your roses.

  • Alfalfa - Available as a meal or tea. A natural growth hormone is found in alfalfa which helps produce healthy plants and rose blooms.
  • Bone Meal - Whatever mix you purchase or create for your roses, be sure to include bone meal for new plantings or young cuttings, especially when transplanting because it promotes healthy root growth.
  • Greensand - A sandstone rock with an olive-green color. It contains a huge amount of potassium (potash) as a result of its rich fossil and marine composition. It'll increase your soil's water-holding capacity. Great food for blooms.

Other fertilizers such as dried blood and cottonseed meal are rich in nitrogen to aid in leaf growth.

Novice Rose Growers: Feeding Tips

You have many choices when it comes to feeding your roses. If you are just starting out and learning about organics, you may wish to select one of the all-purpose organic blends available to organic rose gardeners.

  • Use an organic food specifically made for roses
  • Either top dress (spread manure) your plants once a month or do a soil-drench (dilute liquid with water) twice a month using a liquid bloom fertilizer.
  • Organic fertilizer blends are a great way to start out with your rose feedings because there's less chance of burning your plants with too much of any one fertilizer. Blends are made using safe and proper ratios.
  • You want your roses to stop growing toward the end of summer, so stop using fertilizer around mid-August. This will assure your roses don't continue to grow and suffer winter damage.

Enjoy Your Roses

Once you master the basics of organic rose food, you'll discover the joy of a thriving rose garden.

Organic Rose Food