Organic rose fertilizer is back in vogue. In the days when families kept animals, even some chickens or ducks, manure was a primary garden fertilizer. With changes in food production and the mass market, synthetic (chemical?) fertilizers became the norm not the organic kind.
Today we are re-discovering the benefits of the organic, so much so that many zoos are marketing such items as giraffe and hippo droppings. The best zoo “poop”, by the way, is elephant manure. Mind you, you will need a really big shovel!
Manures and composted plant materials add organic matter, which helps retain moisture and structure. This in turn prevents compaction and helps prevent nutrients from leaching away with heavy rainfall.
Organic rose fertilizers, of course, may mean more than just manure, especially when manure can be a source of weed seeds, or contaminated with agrochemicals associated with the rearing of a particular animal.
Other organic sources include alfalfa, kelp, fish meal, canola pellets, bone meal, green sand and rock phosphate, to name but a few. These plus manure make up the components of your organic rose fertilizer.
What do these mean to your Roses?
Well, fish pellets and canola are rich sources of nitrogen for healthy leaves and growth.
Rock phosphate and bone meal are both a rich source of phosphorus for good root growth.
Kelp and green sand are potassium rich and therefore promote disease resistance, new growth and resistance to cold.
These organic rose fertilizers are also rich in micro nutrients, essential to rose growth.
Take Kelp as an example. It is rich in calcium, sulfur, boron, magnesium and manganese as well as naturally occurring growth hormones.
Because there are so many possible “organic” elements, it is best to have a soil test to find out what your particular soil needs.
Rosarians tend to have a “miracle mix” of their own, built to suit their own soil but a good rule of thumb is:
4 parts seed meal (canola or alfalfa)
1/2 part bonemeal or rock phosphate
1/2 part kelp or greensand.
This I would mix with the well rotted manure of my choice.
The best advice, however, is less is better than too much and organic activity is required to activate it: so mix in some good soil and water, water water!
Personally I do it this way:
Spread well rotted manure in the fall for winter protection.
Rake it out in the spring and add a handful of dry organic mix to each rose bush with a repeat of the dry mix in the beginning of July. (or after the first full blooming period)
That way you get the full organic feeding necessary for a complete year.
The choice of manures in your mix is important
Don’t use manures from animals that are primary meat eaters because of the risk of parasites. Dogs or lions are not good sources! The most common are horse, steer, mushroom or poultry. Some gardeners have access to goat, sheep and rabbit.
It is very difficult to compare one with another because it all depends on how they are reared. Being reared in a straw covered barn will have a different effect to a grass rich field. You may not have a source of manures and so purchase bagged manures from a garden center, in which case make sure you read the labels.
Here are some “generalizations”:
Washed dairy cow manure is excellent, steer manure not so good as it has a higher salt and weed component.
Horse manure isn’t as rich as chicken manure but higher in nitrogen than cow manure: but it does have a high weed seed possibility.
Rabbit manure is even higher in nitrogen and should be used sparingly.
Sheep manure is good and strong and so should be used well rotted and sparingly.
Mushroom manure is often spent and sometimes contains bleach from washing the barn floors, so be careful.
Personally I rotate:
(Not me personally but the use of the manure!)…one year, packaged, well rotted steer manure and the next, well rotted and packaged pig manure. It will, of course, depend where you live and what’s available. BUT: Never spread raw manure, always let it sit to rot for a year.
And don’t forget that your well composted garden waste is a great “free” source of organic rose fertilizer!
It has been calculated that 75 to 90 percent of the plant nutrients fed to animals are excreted in their manure. It’s no wonder then, that organic rose fertilizer is the garden ‘miracle’.
Good luck with your organic fertilizing. You have just discovered one of the major “secrets” of having the best roses on the block.