Fertilizer: Liquid/Foliar

“Secrets” Revealed – Fertilizing Roses by Liquid/Foliar Feeding

Last Fall Tom Carruth discussed the fertilizer program he uses at the Huntington Rose Garden. He was kind enough to share it with us and here it is, resized for the home gardener. For comparison is the program used by MLRS member Beverly Rose Hopper. Note they share similarities in that each starts off with a “base” followed by foliar or liquid feeding. 


Beverly Rose Hopper typical fertilizer program

Beverly Rose Hopper
Beverly Rose Hopper

– Organics to improve soil texture – aged horse manure and alfalfa pellets. In early spring apply fish emulsion.

– Dr Earth Life Fertilizer (or Mills Magic Mix) twice a year as base. Sometimes use once/year Osmocote.

– Liquid fertilizer – About once a month unless gearing up for rose show or special event then apply weekly.  Mix for liquid fertilizer spray, use Miracle Gro hose-end applicator: Mills Magic Easy Feed water soluable and Jack’s 20-20-20 water soluable.

If exhibiting: Chelated Iron (not Ironite) once or twice a year for extra dark green foliage.


Tom Carruth current fertilizer program at Huntington

Tom Carruth, Curator of th Huntington Rose Collection
Tom Carruth, Curator of the Huntington Rose Collection

Scotts Natural Lawn Food twice a year as base, plus foliar feeding 4 – 5 times a season.

Below is foliar mix Carruth currently using. His recipe is for 100 gallons of spray, this re-sized for 1 gallon using correct proportions. The first two products are from Grow More Inc. The last two picked up at local Hydroponics Store. This recipe is not written in stone. It’s like chili recipes. There are hundreds of variations but they all more or less do the trick. Tom thinks the seaweed extract and nitrogen source (Verde) are most important.

Mix for 1 Gallon foliar spray:

1 tsp Jump Start Tonic

3 tsp Sea Weed Extract

1/8 tsp Great White Mychorrhizae

1 tsp Humbolt Verde

Both fertilizer programs start with a “base” fertilizer, then use foliar or liquid fertilizers to supplement.  All products (except manure) available on Amazon.  Special note to gardeners with dogs:  some organic products (such as Scott’s Natural Lawn Food which contains feather meal, meat meal and bone meal ) may tempt fido.