Roses release a heady perfume and offer outstanding blooms. The plants are an old-time favorite and are the subject of numerous clubs and collectors. Rose stock is actually numbered and referenced to make certain the roses are consistent in that variety. There are numerous kinds, different in bloom size, color and stature of the bush. Roses need sun and light, well-drained soil with sand or grit, and basic plant nutrition.
All plants need some combination of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow. Proportions of these basic nutrients in fertilizer vary from plant to plant. Nitrogen causes green leafy growth. Phosphorous is important for a healthy root system and prolific blooms. Potassium beefs up the plants' immune system and protects them against insects and disease. Roses need less nitrogen than some plants because blooms are a more important attribute. A good fertilizer balance would be 10-20-10, with high phosphorous levels to encourage flower production.
Fertilizer works by releasing the basic nutrients into the soil, so the plants' roots can take it up for use. Water and moisture break down fertilizer to its components. Over-watering and rain cause the nutrients to leech out of the soil before the plant can use them. Slow-release fertilizer breaks down gradually, allowing nutrients to stay in the soil for a longer period of time. This prevents the gardener from having to fertilize so often, and provides a steady supply of nutrition for the plants.
Organic fertilizer is all the rage, not only because it is nontoxic, but because it works better. Organics with slow-release nitrogen keeps soil well-supplied with this compound. Additionally, organics are produced naturally and contain no pesticides or chemicals in the production process. This protects the water table, the gardener and the rest of the environment.
Systemics protect plants from the roots on up, and are designed to travel through the entire vascular system. They keep the plant from getting disease and insect problems. Organic gardening does not accommodate systemics because they add chemicals to the plant and the soil. These can leech into the water table and even contaminate the gardener. Compost offers similar protections, although it will take many seasons of use to accumulate the benefits.
Compost is important to plant health. It imparts nutrition to the soil and keeps weeds from invading. It is easy to make a home compost pile. All you need is yard waste, heat and moisture. In a little while, the debris becomes rich, humic soil. Diseased plant parts should not be added to compost as it can contaminate it. Top dressing roses with compost keeps weeds from germinating and adds richness to the soil. Working compost into soil at planting also enhances water retention.