Hello my fellow garden friends.

Now that we are in March, it’s the optimum time to fertilize our roses. We are actually enhancing the soil with organic matter and fertilizer. This allows the soil to become alive with natural fungi and microorganisms.

To begin with, make sure your rose bushes have a nice water saucer. Make sure the bud union is not below or covered by soil.

Incorporate the following materials in and around the water saucer: One-cup Epsom salts and one-cup of Dr. Earth organic rose fertilizer. The Epsom salts generates strong cane and root growth. Epsom salts is nothing but magnesium sulfate and completely organic. The Dr. Earth has everything that a rose bush will want to grow and bloom including alfalfa, cottonseed and feather meal.

After the organic fertilizers have been added it’s time to place an organic compost on top and around the fertilizer. I like using composted steer manure. Now water in all the material at least twice allowing the organic materials to settle in. Again, making sure the bud union is not covered.

Lastly, add a layer of natural bark chip, not that dyed red and black stuff. The bark chip will shade and keep the root system cool during summer.

On the first feeding, I like to give my roses an additional feeding of an organic liquid fertilizer which is simply cut-up banana peels and crushed eggshells. You will need to put the ingredients in a pot that can hold boiling water. Bring water to a boil on the stove and then pour that water over your ingredients. Leave the concoction to sit overnight.

Remember, roses are heavy feeders. Continue to feed with liquid fertilizer, till after first flush of flowering is finished. Then repeat with Epsom salts, Dr. earth and manure compost.

Note, I only use organic fertilizers and compost. I highly recommend you do not use synthetic fertilizers like Miracle-Gro and any other synthetic pilled fertilizer. These fertilizers will make your plant grow and bloom but are not good for the soil and kill off the beneficial microorganisms and earthworms.

I hope everyone’s roses bloom well and bring joy and happiness.

Mark Koehler

Mark Koehler of Los Banos is an arborist and master gardener, who has degrees in Landscape Architecture and Landscape Horticulture from UC Berkeley and Northeastern University.