History of MRS
MRS Public Garden
Bronze Medal Awards
SO MANY CHOICES!!!
by Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian
How About Epsom Salts?
Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) helps produce lush new canes and rich green foliage – fact or fiction? Rosarians have been extolling its virtues for ages. It can improve the health of your roses if they are growing in soil deficient in magnesium. Roses are sensitive to salts, so the concentration of magnesium should not exceed 100 parts per million (ppm). Soils deficient in magnesium (less than 20 ppm) may exhibit leaves where the center is green and the edges yellowed. Before making your trip to the drug store, purchase a soil test kit and see if you really need to add it.
Once you have decided what elements you want to apply to your roses, you should consider the different forms that each may come in. Whichever material and method you use to fertilize, liquid or dry, simple or multinutrient, chemical or organic – don’t try to second guess the manufacturer - follow the directions. Too much of a good thing, even manure, can be potentially hazardous to your plants.
Liquids or solids – liquids deliver nutrients to roots immediately and are easy to use. Solid fertilizers are sold as granules, powders or pellets; they can be broadcast, scratched or dug into the soil, or used when planting.
Simple or single nutrient fertilizers like ammonium sulfate (21-0-1), urea (46-0-0) or superphosphate (0-20-0), are relatively inexpensive and generally very concentrated; they take up little storage space, but may burn tender growth due to high concentration.
Soluble complete fertilizers like MiracleGro and RapidGro, contain macro, secondary and micronutrients and get to the roots quickly. These chemically-based products are very concentrated so a little goes a long way. You need to dilute them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Mill’s Easy Feed is a unique (and potent!) blend of organic and inorganic materials; Epsom salts, chelated iron, soluble seaweed extract, fish soluble, urea and other soluble fertilizers.
Slow-release fertilizers are sold as spikes, tablets or bead-like granules that release nutrients gradually over a fairly long period, 3 – 9 months if the soil receives regular moisture. Products like Osmocote are very convenient to use as you only have to apply once in a season. They may not provide sufficient amounts of the macronutrients and may require supplements, and cost more than other alternatives.
Multipurpose products feature a fertilizer and some other material with a different purpose. The most common is a combination of fertilizer and insecticide or fungicide such as Bayer Advanced ™ All-in-One Systemic Rose and Flower Care. This type of product is appropriate if you need the extra ingredients every time you fertilize, otherwise it is more economical to use fertilizer alone (and gentler on the environment). Another type of multipurpose fertilizer contains other growth enhancers; Dr. Earth Rose & Flower Fertilizer is a blend of cottonseed meal, fish bone meal, fish meal, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, mined potassium sulfate, soft rock phosphate, seaweed extract and seven champion strains of beneficial soil microbes plus ecto- and endo-mycorrhizae.
Natural organic fertilizers like MaxSea, fowl manure, fish emulsion or blood meal add valuable organic matter to the garden, act slowly with less chance of burning and are beneficial to microbes, though results are less dramatic.