Rose bushes produce beautiful spring and summer blossoms. To create these flowers, roses rely on nutrients from the soil. They are considered heavy feeders. Maintaining a strong, healthy rose bush depends on an established annual feeding routine. Fertilizing usually starts in the spring when there is new growth on the rose bush that reaches 6 inches.
Sprinkle the area with water. Wet the soil around the rose bush. Never apply fertilizer to dry soil. The dampness will help hold the fertilizer in place.
Spread a half to 1 cup of general-purpose fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 around the rose bush. Start with a circle 6 inches from the crown of the rose bush and spread out to a distance of 18 inches. Do not sprinkle fertilizer directly on the rose bush because it will cause burns on the plant.
Scratch the fertilizer into the surface of the soil with a cultivator, which looks like a small hand rake. Go to the depth of about a half inch.
Water the area thoroughly. Fertilizer needs water to activate and be able to reach the roots of the rose bush. Gently soak the area so you do not blast the fertilizer away from the rose bush.
Repeat the fertilizing process again at the beginning of summer between mid-June and mid-July.