can I use horse manure to feed roses

cthorntonSeptember 12, 2009

Can I use horse manure to feed roses or mulch roses for winter or to richen up the soil?

Also, I have heard of something called black spot. How do I know if they have it? Some leaves have turned yellow or brown and have some little black spots. Some leaves are now falling off. What is it? What do I do?

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jerijen(Zone 10)

We have used horse manure for years, with great success -- HOWEVER, there's horse manure, and horse manure.

If the horses are out in a pasture, eating weedy grass, I wouldn't recommend it.
Stabled horses, eating alfalfa, not weeds, produce some great stuff.
We have NOT composted it, but we do water it in.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 7:15PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Very fresh manure can burn plants. Take it from the bottom of the pile or let it sit out for a few months before applying.

Black is not something you will have to worry about. It is a fungus that causes black spots all over the leaves. It is rampant in the east where we have warm summers with high humidity. It is rarely a problem in the SW.

My guess is that you are over-watering and/or have poor drainage. Err on the side of dry. Deep water once a week--twice in the hottest weeks--but no more. Deep watering forces the roots to go down, keeps them cooler, and helps stablize the plant. You can use drip irrigation. Or make a well around your rose about 3" deep. Fill it, let the water absorb and then refill.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 10:38PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Very fresh manure can burn plants.

*** So I thought.
But people who'd been doing it for years told me I was wrong, and as it turns out, they were correct.
We've done it for several years, with excellent results.

Also, I don't know what part of AZ the OP is in, but their water requirements will be different from those in a part of the country that gets more rain.
I'd talk to other people who are growing roses in desert conditions about watering needs.

AZ has some good local rose societies. You'd learn a lot from those folks.


Here is a link that might be useful: Local ARS Societies, by State

    Bookmark   September 12, 2009 at 11:30PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

That's good to know about the manure. Doyou know if it is the same for cow manure?
My watering recommendations are based on my experience in Santa Fe, which, of course, can be different from AZ, but are closer. Here, I sometimes don't have to water for weeks.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 8:57AM
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greenhaven(SW MI z6)

catsrose I think fresh cow manure is "hotter" than horse, but nearly as bad as fresh chicken manure. I think rabbit and horse manures can be generally applied safely whenever. Everything else really depends on what they are fed and how fresh it is.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 1:06PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Yes, y'all in VA and on down the Eastern Seaboard can get away with not watering.
Believe me, I am all jealousy over that.
Irrigation is a must here, and at that our water is terrible. At least AZ, I think, doesn't have the saline content our water does (filtering through ancient seabed).

COW Manure: Commercial, composted, cow manure you buy is from feedlots. Read "THE OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA" and reflect upon what is pumped into the steers that are ingesting it, and you'll pass. Composted or not composted.

Now, IF you live next to a dairy farm (I did as a child) where the cattle are fed alfalfa hay, well, that might work fine. But if the dairy cows are PASTURED, I think I'd pass.

Rabbit, I am told, is good stuff -- if you can get it.
Chicken, I GUARANTEE you you do not want in any form.
Farmers here used to get it from a local egg operation, and they spread it on all of the fields twice yearly.
When they did that, one could easily SMELL ones way to Camarillo, CA.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 1:24PM
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Well, now, I use DPW... dried poultry waste and have for several years. Should be raked into the topsoil if you don't want it blowin' in the wind, though. Like all manures, don't handle it without a mask and gloves. You surely do not want any of it to blow back on a windy day...

The OP asked about blackspot and we have a seen a few very limited instances, usually involving lawn sprinklers. There might be some places in higher elevations that experience it right now but highly doubtful.

cthornton, what part of AZ are you in and what type of irrigation system are you using?

Don't be worried about a few leaves falling off. Most of my garden looks like a forest in the fall but they're starting to put out some new growth due to the cooler nights and higher humidity we've been having. By late September, I expect to have my fall pruning done and the first full feeding of the season applied.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 6:55PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Here are NPK charts of organic fertilizers and soil amendments. Although it's recommended one composts Chicken manure first, note how low it is in nitrogen. I would think as long as it was not added at the roots but out a ways, by the time the roots grew into it, it would be fine.
source--------------N P K------------comments
Rabbit manure 2.4 1.4 0.6 Most concentrated of animal manures in fresh form.
Cow manure (dairy) 0.6 0.2 0.5 Often contains weed seeds should be hot composted.
Steer manure 0.7 0.3 0.4 Often contains weed seeds, should be hot composted if fresh.
Chicken manure 1.1 0.8 0.5 Fast acting, breaks down quickest of all manures.
Use carefully, may burn. Also, stinks like hell - composting definitely recommended.
Horse manure 0.7 0.3 0.6 Medium breakdown time.
Duck manure 0.6 1.4 0.5 .
Sheep manure 0.7 0.3 0.9 .
Worm castings 0.5 0.5 0.3 50% organic material plus 11 trace minerals. Great for seedlings, will not burn.
Is a form of compost, so doesn't need composting.


Note: it is recommended to first compost any fresh manure before you use it for 2 reasons:
1) to lessen the chance of harmful pathogens.
2) to break down the manure to make it more usable to the plant (and reduce the smell!)
The rates for pig are not listed because of the high rate of harmful pathogens it contains.

Here is a link that might be useful: Manure fertilizer values.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 8:54PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Chicken manure first, note how low it is in nitrogen. I would think as long as it was not added at the roots but out a ways, by the time the roots grew into it, it would be fine.

*** Have you SMELLED Chicken Manure????


    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 9:18PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Thank you, Karl, for the chart. What about llama? There is a llama farm up the road from me and I am always looking for excuses to stop and chat about them.

Jeri, one of the reasons I came east was water. I grew up in NoCA and did 18 yrs in Santa Fe and I was sick of not flushing the toilet and saving my shower water.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 10:55PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I hear you Cat.
I love where we are -- and I was born in SoCal -- but the water situation, that gets worse every year.
And now, they're saying our El Nino year may be yet another Dry El Nino.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 11:21PM
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Jeri, chicken manure is no where NEAR as bad as a pig farm. This ol' MO gal hasn't lived near one in 25 years but my olfactory hasn't forgotten. Liquid Fence and alfalfa tea come close on the smelly scale, though. And my old dogs gas attacks... good LORD.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 2:41AM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

Sure. In fact, it is much better then cow manure. Horses are more discriminating about what they eat, so there will be less weed seeds to sprout later.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 3:57PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Yes Jeri, I know how bad chicken crap smells. We have an egg farm nearby. When they clean the chicken houses, the smell travels quite a distance. I picked up some of the stuff once.
That's why I included the note, especially number 2.
"Note: it is recommended to first compost any fresh manure before you use it for 2 reasons:
1) to lessen the chance of harmful pathogens.
2) to break down the manure to make it more usable to the plant (and reduce the smell!)

If one can stand the smell of alfalfa tea, the smell of chicken manure can be handled. Although the dried product would be less fragrant, the dust could cause breathing problems and diseases.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 4:12PM
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"cthornton, what part of AZ are you in and what type of irrigation system are you using?"

Okay - I am in Payson, AZ which is 6,000ft elevation. I am not so sure about the black spot now after hearing it is not common in AZ. It rained and hailed yesterday really hard and all the bad leaves and old stems came off in the storm. So, now they look great.

My irrigation at this point is to hand water when it does not rain. I have to admit, in the 2 yrs I have lived in our house I have rarely even watered or messed with the roses until recently. Last fall and then this spring I cleaned the weeds from the bed, pruned the rose bushes back to about 5ft tall since the previous home owner let them get 7 ft tall and really bushy with weeds 3 ft high. Then about 2-3 months ago they had aphids so I put some chemical stuff on that someone gave me to try. It claimed it could be HIGHLY toxic, but killed bugs, diseases, and fed them all at the same time. I forget what the stuff was called, but it looked like thick white goo that you mix w/water and put around the bottom of the plants. I had a black widow spider bigger than I have EVER seen come out. That was what was basically covering the bottom 1/2 of the bush in webs.

So, I did that and then got advice from my mother in law to wash the aphids and spider webs off of the leaves. So, I did that. Now, I am thinking that is a no-no?

So, here is my list of questions:

Should you never wet the foliage?

I have never really fertilized. What do I use? I have plant tone...or do I just go with the horse manure?

If I use HM do I put only around the plant and not let it touch the plant?

The local nursery recommends pruning, mulching and manuring in March. Should I wait until then to do each of these or should I prune, feed, mulch in fall too?

My aunt says deadheading is to only pull off the petals of the flowers once they begin to fall off (I don't think that is right!). How is dead heading done to roses properly? Is it too late (have not had flowers for a couple months)?

I read you can plant perennials in the bed to act as a buffer zone against disease. Those suggested were violas, geraniums, and campanillas. Also suggested lavender. Then read other companion plantings to attract benificial bugs to ward off pests were rosemary, thyme, and alyssum. There are some tulip bulbs in the bed currently. Any suggestions on what people think about this would be great.

I need so much help for these 3 plants! Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 5:51PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

No problem washing your roses. PARTICULARLY in arid AZ.
Just do your washing in the morning, so the roses have an opportunity to dry off. But blackspot should not be an issue for you, in your location.

If you use fresh horse, I would keep it a bit back from the canes, but mulch with it to the outer dimensions of the plant's drip line. And do water it in.
You won't have any odor to speak of, after the first day.

As to deadheading, if you want to grow long stems for vases or exhibition, you will eventually want to cut down the stem to five-leaflet leaves. But if your roses are young, you could just do Bend And Snap deadheading (see link).

Nice selection of companion plants. You could add some of the decorative salvias. But mind that they can grow large.

Here in CA, we can prune, feed, and mulch from Thanksgiving through Valentines day. In your area, I'm not sure. I have a friend up near Show Low, though. I could ask her.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bend & Snap Deadheading

    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 8:16PM
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allison64(So Cal San Diego 10)

So Karl, can the fresh manure be added to the composter with everything else?

Jeri, when you spread the horse manure do you scratch it in? Also you only apply at the outer drip line as to not disturb roots?

Cthornton, I am sure glad you started this thread!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 9:16PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Allison, no. We just keep it a couple of inches away from the basal canes (or crown, if you have one).
And use it as you might a mulch, from there, out to the drip line.

We water it in. Eventually (reasonably quickly) it breaks down, and sort of disappears visually.
It acts as pre-digested alfalfa -- so, a powerful growth stimulant.

And, no. We never scratch anything in. But we might mulch over it, and apply more water.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2009 at 11:44PM
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allison64(So Cal San Diego 10)

Jeri, thank you. That is exactly what I do with compost. So I am on the right track.

This thread may have just pushed me into getting a new rabbit. (can't fit horse a in the yard :-( ) My ooold bunny passed right before I built my beds. I have been hesitant in get another one. Great nudge! :-)


    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 1:03PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

A woman we know feeds rose petals to her bunnies, and harvests the manure to put on the roses.
Isn't that a nice circle of life? :-)


    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 1:06PM
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You were given a systemic rose food by the sounds of it. Used early in the spring growth cycle it can ward off the worst of the aphids but used regularly can hinder your plants ability to fend for itself and will kill the good and bad bugs, both. It won't kill that black widow, though, and it's impact on powdery mildew would be limited at best.

Washing off aphids and other bugs and spores is always the best control method. Using chemicals should always be last even if they're contact or soil applied because they're toxic to something... could be you, your family, your groundwater, your pets.

To know how much and how often to water is never an easy task but the one we use here is to water deeply then take a sharp stick, maybe 3ft, and stick it in the soil at the leaf line and see how far you can push it in. If it stops before the halfway point, try it again. If it still won't push in to a depth of 15inches, you need to water deeper. We anticipate an average bush will require 5 gallons of water whenever we water. More for larger, less for smaller. We increase our watering from once a week in the winter to 3-4 times a week in the summer. Flood irrigation may run every 10 days in the winter to once a week in the summer. (flood is how they watered the citrus and pecan groves). I'm guessing with your average temps, the roses would like to be watered twice a week during warm weather when there's no rainfall and once every week or two during the winter. You can get snow, cold winds and dampness. We don't get that here in the Valley. There was an elderly couple that had a HUGE rose garden up there several years ago. They attended the Mesa rose society meetings fairly regularly. You might ask around. Their home was up for sale a few years ago so they may no longer live in the area.

I'd still plan to use that horse manure once or twice a year. Try to mix it with a forest product or even wood shavings and let it sit fallow for a couple months before application. The manure helps the wood break down and the wood keeps the manure from clumping into a sick mess. You can also throw some leaves and/or pine needles into it and you'll have a great mulch.

Your local nursery knows your local weather and growing conditions. If you have 'winter', they're telling you the garden needs to be allowed to go dormant so the bushes don't put out a lot of new growth only to freeze to death when the first biting wind comes blowing through.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 1:25PM
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Jeri and moroseaz - this is all GREAT info thanks a million.

So, tell me how this sounds: do nothing except water for now. Then when it gets colder mulch for it to be good in dormancy (maybe nov-dec). Then in March prune and do the horse manure to feed them. Or do I manure AND add fertilizer? Or is the manure enough fertilizer by itself?

Is spring a good time to plant companions in spring before I do the manure and feed?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 7:27PM
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May I add one thing? You shouldn't have blackspot in your location, except that some roses sold commercially are so pitifully disease prone that you could easily have bought a rose that will blackspot anywhere on Planet Earth. Don't put up with it for another year. There are hundreds of roses that should be disease-free in your climate. Ask around at the local rose society. Don't pony up your precious dollars for junk. Just because it's sold locally doesn't mean it's suited to your locality. Roses take just a tiny bit of education.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2009 at 9:28PM
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Manure and fertilizer is one and same so don't double the dosage. I'd go with the free stuff first, lol. If the nursery advises you to wait to feed the roses until March, I'd plan on composting the manure and wait to apply it. As far as I'm concerned, it's always mulch season, though. Retards weed growth, helps soil retain moisture, makes the garden look better, feeds the soil. You've got access to some good mulch up there I would guess.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2009 at 1:19AM
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Thanks for all the good advice...I feel more confidant now!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 12:52AM
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As a Master Gardener and OGR owner , I add my 2 cents .

Most important - for anyone - contact your local Agricultural Extension Agency and ask to speak to their Rose expert . Advice from your neighborhood and local growers is more valuable than anything else .

Listen to posters here who live in your area . My advice from Florida is not going to help OGR growers who live in Arizona or New Mexico .

I am also a beef cattle rancher . I have used aged cow manure for years with excellent results . Cows have four-compartment stomachs where plant material is broken down and digested . Horses have just one stomach . Grass and weed seeds quickly pass through horses and survive but cows have very little viable seed left in their manure . I prefer cow manure over horse manure for this reason .

I raise grass fed cows - almost all Florida cattle ranchers do . The manure is left in the fields to bake in our hot sun and dry out . I harvest buckets of dried patties and place them whole around rose bushes as mulch . I do this to add organic matter to our sandy soil . I also use oak leaves , hay , coffee grounds and wood chips . All break down slowly over time and add organic matter and trace nutrients . Sometimes this is not enough and the roses get an additional feeding of rose fertilizer . But the mulch is enough to ignore the roses for a long time and they still do fine .

Even in very dry climates , you can use a rain barrel to collect rain water for your roses . Roses adore rain water as opposed to well water or city water . Can't have too many rain barrels especially if you can get them for free !

cthornton - most of your questions can be answered from this forum - either in the archives , FAQs or through an internet search . Try the website for your state land grant University . Yours is the University of Arizona . The link below will connect you to their home page where you will find a link to counties . There you can find your closest office with phone number and e-mail where you can contact them for local information tailored to your neighborhood .

Here is a link that might be useful: The University of Arizona - College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in Tucson, Arizona.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2009 at 7:45AM
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