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Kickstart Your Roses for Spring

by Witherspoon Rose Culture Posted March 04, 2024

Fertilizing and Weed Control

When it is time to wake up your roses in spring, nothing does the job like a good shot of nutrients. Roses are heavy feeders and they need a good fertilizer to help them break dormancy and sustain healthy growth throughout the growing season. 

Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (NPK) are the major components that most fertilizers offer plants.


When do I fertilize? 

In NC, fertilize in early to mid March. 


How do I fertilize?

Witherspoon's Premium 2 in 1 Fertilizer 

Use 2 cups of fertilizer per rose bush. Dig two small holes on each side of your bush and add 1 cup of fertilizer in each hole. As soon as the fertilizer is put down, the quick release component gives the plant a quick shot of nutrients to get the bush growing. The controlled release fertilizer continues to feed the roses until early fall. With our premium fertilizer, once a year is enough. Shop Witherspoon Fertilizer.


10 -10 -10

We usually suggest 1 cup per bush, but we strongly recommend you read the package label before proceeding. You will need to fertilize again in May with a slow release fertilizer to feed your rose bush through the end of the growing season.


Rose Tone

Rose Tone is a good organic option. Follow label directions for application. You will need to fertilize multiple times through out the growing season with Rose Tone, so it is a good idea to schedule reminders. Shop Rose Tone. 

Additional Notes: 
  • Don't get too carried away with all the micronutrients and biological boosters that you hear about. If you properly prepared your rose bed with lots of well composted cow manure, the rose bushes will have the micronutrients they need to thrive. 
  • Do not fertilize brand new or transplanted rose bushes until it blooms. This allows the feeder roots to get established without the possible burning that fertilizers can cause to tender new roots. 
  • In NC, do not fertilize after the middle of August. Rose bushes need time to wind down before the cold winter wind hits.

Weeds, Weeds, Go Away...Don't Come Back Another Day

There are several methods for eliminating weeds. The recommended method of weed control for your rose garden is to hand-pick any existing weeds and apply a 3-4 inch layer of mulch. We suggest using a hardwood mulch, specifically pine mulch if you can. It is important to use mulch rather than pine straw as pine straw quickly compacts and breaks down adding too much acid to the soil for roses. 

Pre-emergent herbicides, those that kill the weed by inhibiting germination of the seeds are less likely to damage a rose bush. These herbicides should be applied in early spring 3-5 weeks before weeds begin to sprout or after you have hand picked the weeds from your garden.  A weeding tool, like the garden bandit, can take some of the stress away from hand weeding. 

Many weed killers such as Round Up can seriously harm your roses.  If used improperly, weed killer can stunt growth, kill the leaves and canes of your rose bush, cause deformation of the plant and inhibit flower formation for the entire season.  If you must use a post-emergent herbicide, choose an organic oil based spray that kills weeds by causing the weeds to burn up in the sun. 

by Laura Posted March 18, 2024

It’s supposed to drop below freezing tonight, do I need to cover my roses which have buds on them. Are you doing anything to your roses there?
Witherspoon Rose Culture replied:
Our roses are still mounded with mulch which is all we will do for the roses. Some of the new tender growth may be affected by the cold temperatures. If so, we recommend cutting them off like you are deadheading. New growth will come out and new blooms soon after!

by Rachel Orstad Posted March 11, 2024

Regarding weeds in the rose garden. Can I use Preen weed control? I have sone on hand but did not wish to use it if it would harm my rose bushes.

Witherspoon Rose Culture replied:
Preen is ok to use around your roses. Keep those weeds out! 😊


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