Roses are traditionally known as "heavy feeders," which means that nutrient additives such as fertilizer are an important ingredient to their care. Older rose varieties such as "Cecile Brunner" and "Desiree," as well as newer hybrids, respond well to good fertilizing routines. Soil amendments increase the aeration and moisture retention of soil. Well-fertilized rose plants resist disease and harmful insects. Soil becomes a self-sustaining time-release of beneficial nutrients when you use organic fertilizers.
The best free garden tip for fertilizing roses is to put compost in the soil. Nutrient rich soil is the basis for healthy plants. Healthy plants require less attention and care. Good soil is built up over time by continually adding organic matter. Ideally, the rose bed is prepared ahead of time by incorporating compost into the soil. However, soil can be improved at anytime by adding compost and other organic amendments such as bone meal. Compost is created when organic materials such as yard clippings, leaves and kitchen waste decompose in a pile. Decomposition makes the micronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium available in the soil. The rose roots soak it up, and the plant's health is improved.
Mulch is a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic material that is put in a circle around the plant base 2 to 3 inches from the main trunk. Mulch is also a free fertilizer when it is homemade. Mulch slowly adds nutrients to the soil that feed the rose. Mulch is also a way to retain moisture in the soil, which is helpful when water is scarce. Mulching with straw or bark particles does not serve as a fertilizer, but using compost does. When compost is fully ripened, it is dark, rich and crumbly. It is not only a good free fertilizer when used as a mulch, but it creates a neat and cared-for look in the rose bed.
Epsom salts cost so little they can almost qualify for a free rose fertilizer. Epsom salts are beneficial to roses because they are a combination of magnesium and sulphur. Magnesium helps roses produce chlorophyll, which the plant needs to turn sunlight into food. Magnesium also helps in the absorption of phosphorus and nitrogen, two essential ingredients for healthy rose growth. The sulphur in Epsom salts also contributes to chlorophyll production and makes nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium more effective. Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that roses fertilized with Epsom salts grow more bushy and produce more flowers.