To grow healthy, beautiful, and resilient roses, it’s essential to choose the best rose plant food. Just like humans need the right nutrients to grow, roses also need them to thrive. But because of an abundance of rose food products on the market; however, choosing just one might seem like an overwhelming task in an already long list of gardening chores.
Keep reading to discover what I think are the top five best rose plant food products out there to inspire your own rose-feeding endeavor and help you with your choice!
Our Top Picks
Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food
Best Fertilizer with Disease & Pest Protection:
BioAdvanced Rose and Flower Care
5 Best Rose Plant Foods
It can be really hard to compare fertilizer when it comes to different NPK formulas and different total bag weights, so we’ve made an easy comparison chart to help tell the difference.
Notice how all of these rose fertilizers have a higher P (phosphorus) value than their N or K value? That’s to help with blooming. I’ve leveled the playing field here and calculated just how much phosphorus is in each fertilizer, and your cost per pound of phosphorus.
|Weight of P
|$/Lb of P
|Down to Earth
|Miracle Gro Rose Food
(2 x 1.5 lbs)
|Dr. Earth Flower Girl
|Burpee Rose + Bloom
Down to Earth and Miracle Gro are both the least expensive, with Down to Earth getting our nod as best overall due to being organic. Bayer Bioadvanced appears to be significantly more expensive, but it must be noted that as an all-in-one option, this product includes disease and pest protection.
Keep reading for more detail on each of these best rose plant foods!
Down to Earth Organic Rose & Flower Fertilizer
Down To Earth’s Rose & Flower Mix gets our pick as the best overall rose plant food due to its low cost and being all-natural and organic. This is a versatile fertilizer suitable for various plants, including roses, bulbs, and flowering shrubs. It provides essential nutrients for vigorous growth and sensational flowers, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want to maintain healthy plants.
Miracle-Gro Water Soluble 2×1.5 lb. Rose Plant Food
This water-soluble spray fertilizer is easy to apply either with a simple watering can, or with a garden feeder that attaches to your hose. Formulated for quick absorption, you will see the results of this plant food immediately! Plus, it’s even endorsed by the American rose society, so you can rest easy knowing that experts have vetted this rose plant food for you.
Best Fertilizer with Disease & Pest Protection
BioAdvanced Rose and Flower Care
BioAdvanced Rose and Flower Care fertilizer is essentially three products combined into one, it doesn’t just promote strong and healthy growth, but also defends against pests and prevents common rose bush diseases.
Dr. Earth Flower Girl Organic Bud and Bloom Booster
Made with 100% natural and organic ingredients, including fish bone meal, alfalfa meal, feather meal, soft rock phosphate, and mined potassium sulfate, Dr. Earth Flower Girl Bud and Bloom Booster contains no GMOs, chicken manure, or sewage sludge.
This fertilizer is designed to feed plants for several months, promoting better root establishment, bigger and more abundant buds and blooms!
Burpee Natural Organic Rose Bloom Granular Plant Food
Burpee Organic Rose + Bloom granular plant food is an excellent natural fertilizer formulated to feed all types of roses and flowering plants. This OMRI-listed plant food can be added to soil or potting mix to provide your plants with the constant supply of nutrients they need to maintain growth and blossom production.
It contains beneficial microbes that promote spectacular blooms, more color, and strong root development, making it ideal for container plants, established beds, and individual bushes and other flowers. The fine granular consistency of the fertilizer makes it easy to spread, and it provides a flush of nutrients immediately, with slow-release nutrients continuing to feed plants for up to 3 months.
Why Do Rose Plants Need Food?
Before we dive into my list of the best rose plant food, let’s get one thing straight: Why do roses even need food?
Rose plant food is important in the growing of roses because it ensures that they are getting all the nutrition they need to thrive, and very importantly, be as disease-resistant as possible. Just like humans with low immune systems are worst affected by colds and sicknesses, roses that lack nutrition are more susceptible to diseases. Plus, they’re less healthy overall!
Plant Food vs. Fertilizer
The truth is that within the gardening industry, plant food and plant fertilizer is the same product, even though scientifically there is a definite difference between the two.
Plant food is what plants produce using elements like light, water, and air, plus the nutrients they take from the soil. They take these things and essentially cook their own food within their system: a process called photosynthesis, which you might remember from your early science class days! Photosynthesis is a natural process that occurs within the plant, without human help.
Fertilizer, on the other hand, is a mix of either chemical or natural nutrients that we put into the soil to enrich it for the plant’s use (to make plant food!). It is a product that humans have created to help with gardening. But we call fertilizer plant food because it feels a little bit like we’re feeding our roses, when in reality, we are giving them the ingredients to feed themselves!
For the sake of this post, we will continue to use fertilizer and plant food interchangeably, even though now you know the scientific difference.
What is Plant Food?
Plant food is a mix of nutrients comprised of different amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (remember that we’re talking about the gardening product here, not the scientific vocabulary!). In fact, the NPK ratio of a fertilizer is its ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
You’ve probably heard of 10-10-10 fertilizer, 20-20-20 fertilizer, 3-5-3 fertilizer, and more—those numbers represent percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium within that specific fertilizer. So a 10-10-10 fertilizer contains 10 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus, 10 percent potassium, and 70 percent filler.
Let’s take a closer look at these three elements:
Nitrogen supports the growth of foliage, and consequently, in flowers. It provides the components that make up proteins, without which a rose bush (or any plant, for that matter) would not be able to survive.
Phosphorus is fundamental to the growth of roots and flowers, as it plays a large roll in the conversion of other absorbed nutrients into smaller, useable components. Without phosphorus, flowers would never bloom and the stems would become weak. The rose plants would droop! In general, phosphorus is considered the most important nutrient in the NPK ratio.
Potassium helps the plant recover from stress caused by disease, pests, extreme temperature, and more. It helps with the transportation of nutrients, carbohydrates, and water throughout the plant’s system.
Types of Rose Fertilizer
Though every fertilizer has an NPK ratio, rose plant foods can differ from each other in other ways, which you should know about in order to pick the best rose plant food for you! Let’s take a look at different types of rose bush foods.
- Organic fertilizer: organic fertilizers are fertilizers whose elements are taken from plants or animals (organic matter). These are obviously better for the environment because of how natural they are. Organic fertilizers are also known to help change the texture of very compact soil to encourage better aeration and moisture retention. Examples of DIY organic fertilizers are animal manure, bananas, coffee grounds, and seaweed.
- Synthetic, chemical, or man-made fertilizers: also known as inorganic fertilizers, compared to organic fertilizers, man-made fertilizers are usually cheaper, and carry a denser formula (so you need less of it). Man-made fertilizers sometimes include elements that feed the plant but end up harming other parts of the environment.
- Granular fertilizers: granular fertilizers come in a sandy-looking mix that is sprinkled into the earth before planting transplants, and also mixed into the soil later on using gardening tools. Granular fertilizers are great because they are absorbed over a long period of time, and thus need can be applied less.
- Spray fertilizer: applied to plants through the use of a spray mechanism, spray fertilizer is a type of rose plant food that is sprayed onto the rose bush’s greenery (as opposed to delivering it into the soil for easy access to its roots). The foliage absorbs most of the fertilizer. The problem, however, is that if the moisture isn’t absorbed before nighttime, it could encourage rot and the spread of diseases and pests.
- Spike fertilizer: similar to how drip irrigation works for watering, fertilizer spikes are driven into the soil and slowly release fertilizer over a long period of time. These are the most convenient kinds of fertilizers, because they only need to be replaced every other month. The issue with spike fertilizers is that the fertilizer is released in a smaller concentrated area, meaning that it likely won’t reach the other side of your garden.
- Liquid fertilizer: liquid fertilizer comes in a liquid solution that is delivered to the plant much like how you water your rose bushes. It is absorbed very quickly, so you’ll be happy to see the results in your plant’s health soon after having poured it at its base, but this absorption rate also means that it needs to be replenished relatively often: every one to two weeks. Liquid fertilizer should be avoided if you’re already struggling with soggy soil and poor drainage.
How to Pick and Use the Best Rose Plant Food
Now that I’ve hopefully inspired you with my list of best rose plant food on the market, let’s go over some things to consider that will help you make the decision that is best for your rose bushes.
- NPK ratio: As you probably know by now, the NPK ratio is the most important element of a fertilizer, and just any fertilizer won’t do for your specific rose plant food needs. Consult experts from your local nursery, and perhaps consider conducting a soil test to decide what ratio is best for your rose plants.
- Application method: as you read above, there are several different types of fertilizer application methods from which you can choose. Before you make your decision, you should take a moment to reflect on your gardening habits. Will you be able to apply the fertilizer every couple of weeks? Or are you super busy, and prefer to do it every couple of months? Are you awake early in the morning?
- Environmental impact: consider whether your budget allows you to opt for organic fertilizers, which are beneficial for the environment, as opposed to man-made filters, which could be harmful to wildlife.
- Rotating fertilizers: unfortunately, your best rose plant food pick shouldn’t be your go-to for the next ten years if you opt for a man-made fertilizer. Experts advise rotating chemical fertilizers and making sure your soil has enough drainage to avoid building up salt.
- pH level: the pH level in soil impacts how well a plant can take advantage of its nutrients. The soil should have a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0—do a soil test to check on it, and if it’s not within that range, use soil amendments to raise or lower the pH appropriately.
- Watering while fertilizing: experts suggest that you water your rose bushes just before and just after fertilizing to help the roots immediately absorb the nutrients, and to avoid fertilizing when it is very hot outside.
- Organization: use a calendar to keep track of your fertilizing schedule! Even the best of us forget and need a little help to keep everything in order every once in a while.
- Complete rose fertilizers: an easy go-to fertilizer if you’re still having trouble determining the best rose plant food for you is the complete rose fertilizer. Generally, however, different rose varieties require different amounts of nutrients, so ideally you should do research into what your specific rose variety requires from fertilizers!
- Fertilizing schedule: start fertilizing at the first sign of foliage, after the last winter frost (which might actually occur in early spring), and continue until about a month and a half to two months before the first frost of the following winter. Between the first fertilization and the last, you should halve the amount of fertilizer you are delivering to your roses after each blooming cycle.
- Low-maintenance roses: if you are feeling overwhelmed by the task of fertilizing, you should choose rose varieties that require very little fertilizer (or even none at all!). Yes, they really do exist!
Go Find Your Best Rose Plant Food!
I hope this list has provides some guidance in terms of finding the best rose plant food for your every healthy rose bush need. Feeding roses is important for healthy growth, hardy pest and disease resistance, and more. Just remember that fertilizer products are called plant food, but that’s different from the actual plant food that roses make for themselves using the nutrients provided by fertilizers.
Excited for more rose content? Then keep reading all about these beautiful flowers, how to take care of them, and more on our roses page!
- About the Author
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Margherita Bassi is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. She grew up between the US and Europe, and nurtured her love for nature and the outdoors in both countries.
In the US, she went on dozens of RV trips with her family, scouted out the best restaurants in every city she visited, and learned how to grow herbs and veggies of all kinds by watching her mother.
In Europe, she experimented with gardening in small spaces, like the small balcony of her apartment in France. With an MA in International New Media Journalism, Margherita is also a skilled researcher in a wide range of topics, and has extensive experience interviewing both individuals and experts.