What is N-P-K Anyway?

When it is time to wake up your roses in the spring nothing does the job like a good shot of nutrients.  Roses are heavy feeders and they need a good fertilizer in the spring to help them break dormancy and to sustain healthy growth throughout the growing season.  Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) are the major components that most fertilizers offer to plants.  With fertilizing roses, how and when you fertilize is just as important as what you use.

1.       In North Carolina we fertilize in early to mid March.  We use 2 cups per plant of Witherspoon’s Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer.  In March as soon as the fertilizer is put down its quick release component gives the plant a quick shot of nutrients that gets the rose bushes growing.  This product also has a controlled release agent that begins to feed the plants as soon as the soil temperature warms up.  The controlled release fertilizer continues to feed the roses until early fall.  With our Premium Fertilizer you fertilize one time and you are done for the year.

2.       If you choose not to use Witherspoon Premium Fertilizer (why not?  We ship!) you will want to use 10-10-10 in March for your roses.  We usually suggest 1 cup per bush but we strongly encourage that you read the package label for directions.  You will then need to fertilize again in May with a slow release fertilizer to get you through to the end of August at which point your roses need to begin winding down for the winter.

3.       If you choose to go with a more organic approach Rose Tone is a good product.  Follow label directions for application.  Don’t get too carried away with all of the micronutrients and biological boosters that you are hearing about these days.  If you properly prepared the rose bed with lots of well composted cow manure (Witherspoon’s Premium Planting Mix works great!) then your plants should have all of the micronutrients that they need.

There are a few additional notes about fertilizing your roses: 

  • Do not fertilize a brand new rose bush or a transplanted rose bush until it blooms.  This allows the feeder roots to get established without the possible burning that fertilizers can cause to tender new roots.
  • In North Carolina we do not fertilize after the middle of August.  You want to give your bushes time to wind down before the cold winter winds start to blow. 
  • It is well worth it to use a good premium fertilizer.  Your bushes will thank you with a bounty of blooms in spring, summer, and fall.