Special Tips for Gorgeous Roses

I love roses….

At one time, I had 40 rose bushes growing in my garden.  Later, we sold our home and moved to a new home and a new garden.

I still have roses – just not as many.

Growing roses is incredibly rewarding and I am going to share with you a few tips on how to increase your blooms – which is why we grow roses, isn’t it?

Abraham Darby

Basic rose feeding consists of fertilizing your roses once they start growing new leaves in spring.  I recommend using a fertilizer formulated for roses.  You can select either an organic fertilizer or a synthetic fertilizer.  Follow the directions on the package as to how much to apply.  Be sure to water in your fertilizer well afterward.

Now for those of you who want to maximize the potential of your rose bushes, here are some special tips:

1. In spring, make six holes around your rose bush (about 1 ft. from the base), using a broom handle.  Make each hole about 6 – 8 inches deep.

2. Mix 6 cups of compost, 3 cups of composted steer manure, 1/2 cup Epsom salts, the recommended amount of your favorite rose fertilizer AND two handfuls of alfalfa pellets.

Compost improves soil texture, adds fertility and feeds microorganisms in the soil.

Manure is a natural source of nitrogen and slowly releases it into the soil.

Epsom Salts may seem unusual, but it is a great source of magnesium, which helps healthy, green leaf growth.

Alfalfa Pellets act as a secret ‘tonic’ for roses.  As they break down, they release an alcohol (tricantanol) that stimulates basal breaks (more rose branches from the base), larger rose bushes and bigger blooms.  *Don’t use rabbit pellets since they contain sugar.

Glamis Castle

3. Fill each hole with this mixture and then sprinkle any remaining mixture around the rose bush and work into the top two inches of soil.  This allows the roots easy access to your ‘special’ amendments.

4. Water each rose bush deeply – at least 18 inches deep.

You will soon be rewarded with absolutely glorious roses after you follow these ‘special tips’.

5.  Now for you rose fanaticsyou can go even one step further by adding a liquid fertilizer every 2 – 3 weeks during the growing season.

For information on how to select, plant and prune roses, check out my earlier posts:

“How to Select Bare Root Roses”

“Planting Bare Root Roses”

“Pruning Roses (The Story of an Old, Neglected, Nameless Rose)”

**Do you have any special rose-growing tips?

Please share them with us!



  1. Nancy Kelly says

    I am definitely trying your recipe!

    What is that gorgeous yellow rose in the top photo? Graham Thomas?

    I have an Abraham Darby too, do you find that some of the flowers kind of turn brown and give up in the early ball-bloom stage? It is VERY floriferous this year, but so many of the outer leaves of buds are brown the total effect is not that pretty. I am about to yank it out and put in a nice reliable Joseph’s Coat.

    Also, after about 9 years of growing climbing roses, I have decided the books are wrong that tell you not to prune them. Next year I am going to prune my climbers (including Abraham Darby if he’s still around) like a regular rose bush! Is this your experience too? I know those of us in the Valley of the Sun have entirely different experiences than other places.

    • Noelle says

      Hi Nancy,

      You are right….it is a Graham Thomas rose. I find that it does a little bit better then the Abraham Darby in our desert climate. Years ago, I had a ‘Juliet’ David Austin shrub rose, which looked similar to Abraham Darby, which I just loved….but I can’t find them anymore.

      For climbing roses, I would remove any old, unproductive canes in January. This should help to stimulate the growth of new canes. And, if you add alfalfa pellets, that should help the formation of new canes too!

      Thank you so much for your questions.


    • Noelle says

      Yes, I am! I used to grow hybrid tea roses and I do love them. But, I have recently fallen in love with David Austin shrub roses. I just love their form and fragrance :-)

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