Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published June 26, 2014 at 6:21 AM | Page modified June 27, 2014 at 9:53 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Q&A: the best fertilizer for roses, controlling weeds

Garden writer Ciscoe Morris on fertilizing roses and natural ways to control weeds.


Special to The Seattle Times

Gardening Events

Ciscoe’s Picks

Interbay P-Patch Lavender U-Pick Sale: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 5-6. 2451 15th Ave. W., Seattle (206-999-9677).

Yoga for Gardeners at Swansons Nursery: 11 a.m. July 6. Yoga instructor and gardener Theresa Elliott will teach some easy yoga poses and stretches that help before, during and after gardening. No experience necessary. 9701 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle; free (www.swansonsnursery.com/seminars-events).

“Gardening for Fragrance” at the Bellevue Botanical Garden: 7 p.m. July 8. Richie Steffen, curator for the Miller Botanical Garden, gives a presentation on fragrant garden plants that will thrive in Northwest gardens. 12001 Main St., Bellevue; $15, or $5 for Bellevue Botanical Garden members (www.bellevuebotanical.org).

advertising

In the Garden

Q: What is the best fertilizer for roses and how often should it be applied?

A: Roses have a hearty appetite, and if you keep them well fed, they’ll reward you with abundant blooms all summer long. Work a mix of organic rose food (follow the directions on the label regarding how much to apply) and 2 cups of alfalfa meal (available at most nurseries) into the soil around your roses when you prune them in early March, and again every 6 weeks during summer.

The rose food will contain all of the major and minor elements needed for healthy growth. Alfalfa meal isn’t high in the major nutrients, but it’s packed with micronutrients, growth regulators and amino acids that tell your rose “bloom, you fool, bloom!”

Wear a bandanna or hold your breath when you apply alfalfa meal, because you shouldn’t breathe the dust. Also store the alfalfa meal in a metal can in your garage or garden shed. I didn’t and every mouse in Western Washington spent the night feasting on alfalfa meal in my garage.

Finally, although most experts would tell you to stop fertilizing roses in mid-August to give your rose time to harden off before frost occurs, I always fertilize my roses one last time in late August. That’s because roses still put out spectacular displays in September and October.

Q: We are overwhelmed by weeds in our lawn and flower beds. Is there an effective way to limit weeds without using poison?

A: Weed growth exploded after our record wet spring followed by weeks of record warm weather. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of weed seeds germinate only if they are hit by direct sunshine.

You’ve probably noticed that you spend much more time weeding in sunny open areas of the garden than in shady areas. Hence anything that keeps sunshine from penetrating to the soil surface will help keep weed populations down.

Where lawn weeds are concerned, raise the mower height and keep the grass thick and vigorous with adequate water and fertilizer. In sunny areas of the garden, open ground is the enemy. Plant closely and fill in open areas between plants with ground covers. Mulching can help as well.

Compost used as mulch won’t stop weeds from growing, but weeds tend to root in the compost layer making them much easier to pull. Woody mulches such as arborist’s wood chips can be effective at preventing weed growth, but they must be applied as thickly as possible.

Compost is a better choice where plants are frequently moved or replaced because wood chips can cause a nutrient deficiency when mixed into the soil. Even if you practice all of the above methods, don’t put away your knee pads. Weeds are just part of gardening, and if you don’t pull them before they go to seed, you’ll find yourself dealing with gazillions of their offspring next spring.

Ciscoe Morris: ciscoe@ciscoe.com “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING 5.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

Also in Living

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Love the column? Pre-order the book!

Love the column? Pre-order the book!

Reserve your copy of "The Seattle Sketcher," the long-awaited book by staff artist Gabriel Campanario, for the special price of just $29.95.

Advertising

About Ciscoe Morris

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.
ciscoe@ciscoe.com

Partner Video

Advertising

Homes -- New Home Showcase

Model home opens for tours this weekend

Model home opens for tours this weekend


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►