Choosing a Rose Fertilizer

fertilizer component

To many home gardeners, the purchase of a bag of fertilizer is a purchase of mystery.

This need not be; with a little knowledge anyone can select a fertilizer to fit any particular need with the assurance that he has obtained proper ingredients with maximum results assured each bag, by law, carries in numbers the plant food guarantee such as 10-6-4 or 7-8-5.

The three numbers always indicate the number of units of nitrogen, phosphate and potash — and always in this order.

Thus a formula of 20-10-5 means 20 units of nitrogen which produces top growth, 10 units of phosphate which furnishes color and strength and 5 units of potash which provides strong root growth.

While high nitrogen fertilizers tend to give a showy display of top growth, this by itself is not sufficient to assure healthy plant growth.

In fact, an imbalance of nitrogen can give the false sense of security that plants or a lawn are developing beautifully, when in fact the root systems are being starved.

For this reason, it is essential to feed each type of plant the precise, carefully balanced diet which brings maximum beauty and health to the entire plant. For roses, one of the best diet formulas is 7-8-5.

Unfortunately, most packages of rose food do not give much additional information about the contents, since individual states have different rules as to how to express the contents of-a package and what can and cannot be listed.

Inasmuch as the fertilizer manufacturer cannot afford to print, fill and inventory different packages for every state, he omits much data and lists only the information and terminology agreed upon by all states where he sells. Thus a rule to follow is always ask to see the manufacturer’s literature before you buy.

A combination of slow-feeding organics, fast-acting chemicals, and trace elements is desirable. We all know human nutritional factors such as calories and proteins can be obtained from a variety of sources.

Basic nutrients for plant life also are obtainable from various sources. Many fertilizers are entirely fast acting straight chemicals.

While these give nourishment, it is very temporary nourishment because it leaches from the soil rapidly. Consequently, such a fertilizer would have to be fed very often, which is costly as well as troublesome.

Organic based fertilizers are the best and most economical.

When the right organic matter is combined with fast acting chemicals in one fertilizer it produces a dependable combination of fast feeding for quick results and slow feeding for lasting economical results.

As stated above, these elements can be obtained from various sources but the sources are highly important because they control the rate of release or feeding.

Sources of Slow-Feeding Organics


  • Dried blood
  • Soya meal
  • Animal Tankage
  • Cotton seed meal
  • Fish meal


  • Bone meal
  • Dried blood


  • Wood ashes
  • Dried manure

*Dried blood is an especially excellent source of organic nitrogen for rose culture.

Sources of Fast-Acting Chemicals


  • Sulfate of ammonia
  • Nitrate of soda
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Urea


  • Phosphate
  • Phosphate rock


  • Muriate of potash
  • Potassium nitrate

Plants, like humans, can have what could be termed “vitamin deficiencies.” One of the foods which roses need but often miss is the minor or “trace” elements.

These are the minerals of iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron and molybdenum. To make sure your roses get these elements, buy your rose fertilizer from a well informed dealer who can tell you definitely whether or not his rose food contains trace elements.

Like all other things, fertilizers come in all qualities and prices. You usually get what you pay for. Cheap fertilizers produce questionable results.

In these days of self—service shopping remember to study the package and if possible, ask questions of the store manager. In this way you make sure the fertilizer chosen contains organics and trace elements in addition to chemicals.

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