Fertilizer question

Maude80May 14, 2014

Hi everyone,

Normally, I fertilize my roses with Miracle gro all purpose plant food three times per growing season. Once in the spring, then mid summer, then before fall. The type I have always used is 24-8-16 but today I was at Home Depot and I saw one called Miracle Gro Rose food... It's numbers are 18-24-16.

Could someone advise me on which one might be better for my roses??

Thanks so much:)

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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

I like Espoma Rose Tone as the fertilizer. The numbers are not as high as the Miracle Gro ones listed and its an organic fertilizer.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:44PM
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cecily(7 VA)

Hi Maude, if you're happy with the results you're getting from the Miracle Gro then I wouldn't switch brands (although I personally use Rose Tone as well). If you only have a few roses, the 24-8-16 is fine. Who needs a lot of specialty fertilizers taking up space in their garden shed? If you have enough roses that you would use a container of 18-24-16 in one growing season, then go with the Miracle Gro Rose Food. The higher P will boost bloom production.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:02AM
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dmny(z7 NY)

I started using Miracle Grow and Bloom Booster years ago. Then switched to Rose Tone which I liked better. Now I use Milorganite. It's economical and it helps keep the deer away. If you can deal with a little stink now and then, it's great stuff.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for responding. I also use an organic fish fertilizer in between the miracle gro because I've heard it's not harsh on the plants. To be honest, I've never really been certain if the fertilizer makes much of a difference but I do it just because I've read that I should..

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:13AM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

I personally find those numbers a bit high. I'd go more with a somewhat balanced fertilizer in the 10-10-10 (or less) range--but maybe that is just my thing. At any rate, I think the amount of fertilizer used per rose would need to be adjusted up or down, depending on how high the numbers are.

I use the higher N type on my handing baskets and potted annuals--they use up fertilizer so fast and seem to thrive on that extra nitrogen, but I've seen some debate on this forum over the years about whether or not, under normal circumstances, roses benefit from extra nitrogen (N). I'm not really sure, to tell the truth.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:46AM
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NPK ratios depend a lot on the soil you have and the roses you are growing and where you are growing them and what you are trying to get them to do.

I alternate between Houston Rose society fertilizer which is a granular concentrate at the ratio of 29-14-16 I believe, but don't quote me on the P an K.

I alternate it with Lady Bugs JohnâÂÂs Recipeâ¢
Liquid Fertilizer 3-1.5-2 which is a a blend of seaweed, humic acid, cane molasses, magnesium sulfate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate and emulsified and hydrolyzed fish emulsion.

They work well. Won't be fertilizing anytime soon though as just moved all 49 of them to the new house and am babying them along after this weekend.

I have never seen a need here in Texas for a balanced NPK fertilizer. Nitrogen is pretty much always needed more then the P or K will be needed. Plus, it is used up faster.

Soil Tests from the Extension service are your friend.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 11:08AM
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I also would suggest a soil test--I did so and determined that I could switch to a much cheaper fertilizer than the Miracle Grow Rose food and still meet the needs of my roses.

Soil tests are quite inexpensive for residents of Connecticut who use the service offered by UConn.

Here is a link that might be useful: UConn Soil Testing Lab

This post was edited by zack_lau on Tue, May 20, 14 at 11:40

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 11:38AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Like many plants, roses use NPK in the ratio of 3-1-2, for example 18-6-12. So if you are flying blind without a soil test, that's the best ratio to use.

It's best to avoid high-P fertilizers such as Bloom Buster, because P accumulates in most soils and can become a problem.

A ratio around 1-1-1 is also OK, especially in all-organic potting media or very sandy soils without any clay, because phosphate does not build up much in those.

If you have a decent soil with some clay, and it has been fertilized in the past, a soil test will likely show plenty of P and K, so only N needs to be added regularly.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 12:38PM
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Years ago I had a rose dude at a fancy nursery tell me that using Miracle Grow on roses was like CRACK for roses. What I noticed here in the zoggy Pacific Northwest Zone 8 that Miracle Grow gives the too much top growth and too much new growth and seems to attract insects. Since I don't spray for insects this was a issue. They got so tall several of them fell over. I have embraced the organic philosophy. Lots of good compost, coffee grounds, alfafa. It took a bit but my roses got less BS. I would use Miracle Grow if I was having a big party in my back yard and wanted them blooming. Forcing them to grow I don't think is the healthiest for the roots. That's my .2 cents.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:56PM
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I know this does not answer your specific question about Miracle Grow, but I use Rose Tone too with great results.

The thing I like about it most is that it does not harm the beneficial organisms in the soil in the way that products like Miracle Grow can. I find RoseTone (along with an annual top-dressing of leaf compost) promotes better soil biological life and this keeps my roses happier and healthier.

To me soil health is just as important in my book as providing food for the roses for them to grow vigorously and stay healthy. The soil is their home after all.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:59PM
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I am not expert, but the NPK ratio seems right for roses. But I think (and may be wrong) that there is more to enriching soil than these 3 components.
I mostly use Mills Magic Mix, sometimes Rose Tone. These organic, slow releasing fertilizers work well with my bushes. They are not as strong as miracle grow (low numbers) and don't work in seconds, but for me that's fine.
Unless you perform a systematic experiment, its hard to determine what works best for your roses, in your conditions. There are so many variables, from pH of the soil, to weather, humidity, sunlight, other plants in close proximity, bugs, etc, etc...

This post was edited by mikeber on Thu, May 22, 14 at 2:02

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 1:52AM
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