Balanced and less fertilizer is best for plants

strawchicago(zone 5a)September 5, 2013

EarthCo. that tested my soil recommended adding phosphorus. In my pH 7.7 alkaline limestone clay, phosphorus is tied up with calcium and magnesium. My soil is also tested barely adequate in calcium.

I checked on the amount of phosphorus to apply. I could only find info. for alfalfa, research done by Purdue University Extension, here's my summary from PDF file:

"A seven year Purdue study started out with very low phosphorus (8 ppm) and medium potassium (70 ppm) soil test levels. The results show the highest yield in alfalfa with: 50 lb. of phosphorus and 300 lb. of potassium. That's six times more potassium than phosphorus.

Another success is 100 lb. of phosphorus and 200 lb. of potassium. That's twice more potassium than phosphorus. Their study also showed decreased quality of plants with excess chemical: low leaf-to-stem ratio, and P and K cause shoots to grow taller and thicker. See link below:

Conclusion: organic fertilizer is best, since it's in a balanced ratio. Examples: cocoa mulch at NPK 3-1-4 with all trace elements, unsulfured blackstrap molasses with NPK 3-1-5, calcium, and all trace elements.

Dry chicken manure has NPK of 1.6 / 1.8 / 2.0, and all trace elements. Fresh horse manure has NPK of 0.6 / 0.3 / 0.5, versus fresh chicken manure at NPK of 0.9 / 0.5 / 0.5 .... Data taken from NC University Extension.

Below is Basyes Blueberry Rose, 100% thornless, intense wild rose, very disease-resistant. It was stingy when I gave it too much calcium (gypsum) and potassium.

Recently in hot August, I fertilized it corn meal instead, NPK 1.65 / 0. 65 / 0.4, and diluted molasses NPK 3-1-5. More flowers, the purple bloom below is Angel Face:

Here is a link that might be useful: Purdue research on phosphorus and potassium

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 11:05

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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Last year I used ALKALINE horse manure (stable put lime to deodorize, plus they use mold-retardant recycled wood chips) .. my 50+ roses in the ground were healthy, very little diseases.

This year the stable changed the bedding to be wet and acidic, no longer effective. So I tested chemicals and other organics. I like Lilly Miller for roses at NPK 5-8-4 with chicken manure the most, more blooms than horse manure.

Below is a link where I compare the ingredients in Lilly Miller versus Rosetone. I tested Rosetone before, not impressed with the result, since bone meal cannot be utilized at pH above 7, according to U. of Colorado.

Here's a picture of Christopher Marlow rose fertilized with horse manure plus Lilly Miller with dry chicken manure. The trace elements in manures also helped with flowering.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertililzers for roses: Lilly Miller versus Rosetone

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Tue, Sep 10, 13 at 10:47

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 10:22AM
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sandandsun(9a FL)

I completely agree with the thread thesis. Reposted here and adapted from an old post is my post about the adverse effects of nitrogen specifically, but over fertilization in general:

Problems, sadly, are usually a result of success.

Well, say for example, I fertilize and I get rapid results in growth and bloom production. It is easy to conclude ideas like: "oh, they like that!" and more powerfully "oh, I like that!" What would this result tend to influence me to do? I might just decide if it works like that I should keep doing it.

We can be so gullible and so easily led down the rosy path, as it were. Fitting most of us humans into hand baskets is much less difficult than Physics allows. You remember where things in hand baskets are headed, don't you? So, although initial results may be pleasing, remember that "getting carried away" is never a good thing.

"Oversupply of N leads to softening of plant tissue resulting in plants that are more sensitive to diseases and pests." (Not my words -quoted)

And more susceptible to freeze damage and drought and basically any challenge. And good evidence is weak stems - i.e., the whole stem isn't strong enough to hold the blossom and bends weakly under the weight of the bloom.

These are observable ill effects on plants which no sensible gardener would ever attribute to the fertilizer regimen because it is ostensibly, at least, reasonable to assume that fertilizing is like giving them their vitamins, but it definitely isn't like giving vitamins at all.

(really nice photos Strawberyhill)

    Bookmark   September 7, 2013 at 4:39PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, Chris (sandandsun), for an excellent perspective. I agree with you on overdose on nitrogen, considering that air is made of 78.09% nitrogen, and soil bacteria fixes nitrogen for plants.

Unless a plant is in a pot which leaches out nitrogen, or the soil is sandy with high rain, there's no need for nitrogen. Even so, organic nitrogen is best with slower release and less leaching to contaminate ground water.

My soil is alkaline clay, I never fertilize my 26 trees yet they are taller than 2-story building ... See below link on Alabama co-op experiments in fertilizers for cotton:

Cotton thrives in a wide range of soil pH like roses: from 5.8 to 8. There's the misconception that roses grow best at pH 6.5 to 7 ... I beg to differ, considering that Chicago Botanical Garden with 5,000 roses stated that their soil pH is 7.4. And my roses are healthy at pH 7.7.

Regarding Alabama experiments with fertilizers for cotton: cotton and roses are grown for blooms, rather than leaves like alfalfa. The link is in a book, can't cut and copy, but I summarize their points:

"Acid phosphate fertilizer gave the best yield for cotton. The formula suggested for best yield: 200 lb. cotton seed meal, 240 lb. acid phosphate (phosphorus), and 100 lb. Kainit (potassium). So it's NPK of 2.5 / 7.7 / 2.9 for maximum flowering of cotton.

Bailey in CA fertilized his Young Lycidas rose in a pot with salmon bits. NPK of fish meal is 10 / 6 / 2 ....much higher nitrogen than cotton's suggested ratio of 2.5 / 7.7 / 2.9. Bailey got over 150+ blooms in his spring flush, except for weak necks/stem.

The study stated, "Lime soil does not need potash, only need 240 lb. acid phosphate and 120 lb. cotton seed meal" That's NPK of 2.2 / 8 / 0.5. A much higher phosphorus due to phosphorus tie-up with calcium.

The study specified different needs "For sandy soil with rust in cotton, 80 lb. of potash is recommended." The study recommends cottonseed meal (NPK of 6 / 0.4 / 1.5) to supply nitrogen to sandy soil.

The study recommended for lime soil: Organic matter is best, such as white clover, stable manure, and cottonseed meal. Below is Carefree Celebration roses at Cantigny rose park, 15 minutes from me. They fertilize their 1,200 roses with a higher % phosphorus fertilizer ... worked well when there's lots of rain and cool temp., but roses got that "burnt-out-look" in hot and dry drought.

Picture was taken after frost and lots of rain, near freezing temperature late October in my zone 5a:

Here is a link that might be useful: Alabama fertilizer experiments on cotton in different soils

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 11:09

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Love the healthy English Rose, Christopher Marlow. It is hard to get rid of chemical ingredients, like taking prescription drug, do not know how much stay inside the body, how is being absorbed and the side effect is usually damaging to the cells. If we human go organic, preserve the nature, we should treat our roses kindly with organics, not chemicals, forget about imcestecide. Hopefully we have more topics on research like yours of the benifit of using grains, to guide us in the right direction.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 6:43PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Seaweed: I agree with the after-effects of chemicals. I tested monopotassium phosphate, NPK 0-52-34, salt index of 8.4. I dumped too much of that high-phosphorus stuff on Golden Celebration, W.S. 2000, and Sonia Rykiel. The plants become stunt for good, just like the picture of over-fertilized alfalfa in Purdue University Research.

University Extensions are right: chemical phosphorus binds up with soil elements at pH above 7. Granular phosphorus (bone meal) on top gunked up and burnt my geraniums, so does organic fertilizer Jobes (with bone meal) burnt my Deep Purple Rose.

Superphosphate mixed in the planting hole worked, but too much phosphorus on top burnt roots. Phosphorus mobility is a 1, it stays put where applied ... versus nitrogen mobility a 10, it moves with water. There's a study that showed phosphorus only move 1" down per year if applied on top.

SOLUBLE phosphorus works better in promote flowering. But high dose in my alkaline clay crystallized and became concrete on top. Even when I put vinegar in a bucket to dissolve the soluble high-phosphorus fertilizer, there's crystals stuck on the bottom of the bucket.

I tested MiracleGro Bloom Booster NPK 10-52-10 with trace elements. The rose which I fertilized in full dose: they flowered, but became burnt out and stunt. The roses which I fertilized in 1/4 amount so it became NPK 2.5 / 13 / 2.5, rather than 10-52-10 ... they bloomed lots with immediate branching.

Phosphorus is tied up in my alkaline clay: I get the classic symptom: purplish margins on leaves, reduced branching, and less flowering.

There's more trace elements involved in blooming than just phosphorus. My fruit trees were stingy with 10-10-10, but they gave tons of fruits with chicken manure, NPK 1.6 / 1.8 / 2.0. So much fruits that the branch broke!

Baily in CA fertilized his Young Lycidas in a pot, with salmon bits NPK 6.5 / 3.75 / 0, and got 150 buds in spring flush. Corn meal NPK is 1.6 / 0.65 / 0.4 .... only 0.65 phosphorus, but I got tons of buds in 90 degrees temp.

Phosphorus is NOT the only element that's essential for flowering, potassium plays a role, so does trace elements. A fruit tree grower increased her crop substantially when she added boron to the orchard, after a soil test. Copper, zinc, and boron are high in chicken manure, and helps with fruit-yield. Horse manure has all the trace elements to green up roses.

The best display at Cantigny rose park was decade ago, when they topped their roses with cow manure. It reeked in spring, but gave healthy roses with shiny leaves, and perfect blooms.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 18:05

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 9:53PM
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Old garden rose, Excellenz Von Schubert, smells so sweet, love the colour, like a group of lovely ballerina dancing together, and keeps blooming one group after another, required only organic soil in the pot, Eleanor's VF-11 or liquid fish Emulsion from time to time, glad to present this easy rose. It fits nicely in a small garden.

1 Like    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 1:49AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi seaweed: Your Excellenz Von Schubert is picture-perfect! I have it too, except mine has pale-leaves. It's either my soil /water more alkaline than yours, or your fish-emulsion and Eleanor's VF-11 really greened that up.

I love my Excellenz Von Schubert .. my own-root is almost thornless, only a few prickles at the bottom of the bush. The musk-scent is great. This rose is ridiculously healthy in partial shade. Kim Rupert's Annie L. McDowell is another thornless rose that I love, except that one needs full-sun and the scent is super-potent, pure heaven.

Seaweed, I understand that you grow 160 roses ... that's way more than my current collection of 55 roses (gave away 10+). What's Eleanor's VF-11? Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:54AM
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A very low concentration, inorganic fertilizer. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: VF-11

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 4:34PM
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duplicate deleted.

This post was edited by roseseek on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 17:48

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 5:47PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, Kim, I looked up the links that you sent me, plus the VF-11 link you provided. That Eleanor's VF-11 is very diluted potassium nitrate and potassium phosphate.

My $20 Soil test from EarthCo. was worth every cent. They sent me a free booklet on soil chemistry ... that's where I first learned that phosphorus is immobile, stay put where applied, potassium moves somewhat, and nitrogen moves with water, and leaches out easily.

EarthCo. recommended me for 100 square feet (10 x 10 area), to apply 1/4 lb. of potassium, and 1/4 lb. of phosphorus, plus 4 lbs. of gypsum (calcium sulfate) ... never mind that I'm next to a limestone quarry and within walking distance to a gypsum plant !! Calcium is bound up with magnesium and phosphorus in my heavy clay.

EarthCo. also recommends 2.8 lb. of sulfur for my soil pH of 7.7. My clay is tested exceedingly high in magnesium, most low in phosphorus, then potassium and calcium.

Here's why a Soil test is important, here's an excerpt from the link that Kim Rupert (Roseseek) kindly provided:

RE: Eleanor's VF-11 and fortified perlite
•Posted by bihai zone 9 (My Page) on Tue, Jul 7, 09 at 7:20

"Here in Florida, legislation was recently passed to require that the Phosphorous be removed from all the fertilizers (especially the water soluble ones like Miracle Grow or Peters)because its completely unnecessary in this state, as our soil is already naturally Phosphorous rich. We are only polluting when we add extra phosphates, which then run off and pollute groundwater, lakes, creeks etc.

So no more 'bloom special' here in the Sunshine State."

**** From Strawberryhill: For $20, Earthco. tested 1 cup of your soil for its pH, organic matter, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. For $30, it's the above, plus test for all trace elements. See link below for soil testing:

Here is a link that might be useful: EarthCo. or Drgoodearth Basic Soil Test

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 6:01PM
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What size pot is your EVS in? Mine is own root and will not like my soil. I must keep it potted or try to graft it to something. I wanted to try this rose ever since Jerijen put the picture of hers up.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:08PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Kitty: I notified Seaweed to answer your question about the size of her pot.

Kitty, I'm glad to hear your voice of experience ... I learned lots from you, such as Heritage likes it wet, so I'll move Nahema (child of Heritage) to a wetter place ... it's stingy on a hill that drains too well. My EVS gets 3 hours of sun in the ground, much less blooms than Seaweed's EVS.

My EVS was in MG moisture control potting soil ... bloomed when I adjusted my tap water. I used to put vinegar in my pH 8 tap water ... it's a bad idea, since it burns roses in the heat. Then I planted EVS in my clay. At first it was really yellowish, then I fixed it ... see below:

This past month I put soluble gypsum (calcium sulfate), sulfate of potash, plus molasses NPK 3-1-5 and I got EVS in alkaline clay to bloom, plus immediate dark green leaves. The "sulfate" part acidifies my water, and the trace elements and 20% iron of molasses greened up EVS.

I used "Tree of Life" molasses, but the best brand with no salt, and highest in potassium is "Wholesome" Organic molasses. Plantation molasses (17% potassium, 20% calcium, 20% iron ) is second place, since it's too thin.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Sep 12, 13 at 22:19

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:47PM
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drug store sells it, but I got it from Home Depot, 16oz, please see the photo, NPK 15-85-55, easy to dilute, one capful or less in one gal of tap water, 8oz into the pot of EVS, then add more tap water underneath the plant, not often give it fertilizer, less is better?

Size of container: 11.5: high, 16" in diameter, several years ago Home depot had it, $8 black hard plastic container, They do not sell them now.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:38PM
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Hi Strawberry Hill,
compared to your organic solution, mine is just too simple, filled up with organic soil, planting mix, "Gardner & Bloome" brand + pumice for easy drainage, nothing else, I am lucky this bare root rose has been very healthy since rcvd 5/26/10, from Vintage, the following year re potted from one gal size. It is facing east sunny front yard.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:10AM
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want to share with the rose lover again, no need to get into details, planted in the ground from 2 gal grafted BLUE MOON purchased from Home Depot 6/14/2008, I admit that I have no power of resistance whenever I find the rose I admire!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 4:19PM
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another fragrant rose, Intense sweet and spicy scent - SECRET, bright light with after sun.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 4:32PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, seaweed, for those lovely roses, "Blue Moon" and "Secret". I always admire Secret rose, very pretty!

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 18:21

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 7:47PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I asked Jean Marion (Decobug) in HMF about her tons of blooms on her roses. Here's her description of her soil:

"My soil is alkaline about 8.1 pH . It is a mixture of clay, sand and silt. My house was built on what used to be working crop fields. The top section is pretty nice. About 2 feet down is solid clay. I try to get rid of that when planting large plants. I have put Mills Magic Mix mixed in with the mulch for quite a while ...

I actually only fertilize roses now that show signs of deprivation. I check the leaves and if I see signs of deficiency I just treat that particular rose. The more I deadhead the more blooms I get. (I try to deadhead daily during the summer.)" Jean Marion.

**** From Straw: Below is the link to Jean Marion's garden in Idaho SW, zone 6a. Her roses have lots of blooms. They get 12 hours of sun and she waters them well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jean Marion (Decobug) garden in HMF

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 12:02

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 11:01AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I found an excellent link on how to apply Chickity-do-do (dry chicken manure) sold for $8.99 for 25 lbs. at Menards. Lowe's sells 1 cubic feet of chicken manure for $3.18 a bag. HomeDepot also sells 40 lbs. of chicken manure for $26, and steer manure & compost in a smaller 1 cubic bag.

Chickity-Do-Do NPK is 5 / 3 / 2.5, with 9% calcium. It stinks unless covered with dirt, mulched, or rained on. Here's a quote from the below link: "The chicken manure goes through an extensive patented process which dries, sterilizes, and kills harmful pathogens and bacteria. The final result is a weed-free, proven slow-release organic nitrogen at 5% - IT WILL NOT BURN. ... Set your spreader to 75% open to spread at a rate of 10 lbs. per 1,000 sq. feet of lawn. "

*** From Straw: chicken manure is stinky, best covered up with dirt or mulch ... the smell goes away if rained on for a few days.

Here is a link that might be useful: Application rates for chicken manure

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Dec 4, 13 at 14:01

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 12:08PM
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cut roses this morning to wish all of rose lovers a nice holiday, I am pleased that some of roses are happy right now, not sleeping or taking the break, bottom exception is camellia, not rose, lavender pink is Fragrant Lavender Simplicity, clock wise, the left bottom deep pinkish red is Why Not Cherise, Double Delight, orange Rainbow Sorbet, little yellow hidden, bud of Eyeconic Lemonade, coral pink is Tournament of Roses, cream with pink edge is Diana, Princess of Wales, little pale pink, mini Ambiance, right bottom deep pink Yves Piaget, white Sheer Bliss at the center, next left crème with pink edge, Princes of Monaco.

1 Like    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 7:42PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Seaweed: I treasure every bloom of yours on this Dec. 4. You are lucky to live in the "sunshine" state of CA, it's so gloomy here in my Chicagoland, and your bouquet cheer me up.

Your roses are so vivid and beautiful ... I love them all, esp. Fragrant Lavender Simplicity, bi-color Diane Princess of Wales, deep pink Yves Piaget, and the pink camellia is so pretty with its ruffles. Thank you, seaweed, for that vibrant bouquet.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2013 at 10:21PM
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You are awesome with all the links. Thank you!

Seaweed0212, do you have your own page with experiences that you might share link to?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:30PM
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Dear Aztcqn:
sometimes I download my roses in the threads belong to Strawberryhill, my computer is very slow to connect to this forum, but from time to time you will find my roses at, does that answer your question? It is "myrosetime" recent one only 4 days ago, Indigo is one of the deeper old garden rose. Scarlet Knight is another one. I will find more roses to upload soon.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:06PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Aztcqn: HMF is a database of roses. There had been hackers tried to break into HMF, its set-up prevent someone to post a link into one's own site inside HMF, so seaweed can't post a link to her page in HMF, but I can post a link to her page.

If you google "Myrosetime and HMF", you will see Seaweed's pics. of her roses. If you google "Chicago IL 5a and HMF", you will see my garden in Chicagoland.

Below is a link that leads directly to Seaweed's page in HMF, her username there is "Myrosetime".

Here is a link that might be useful: Seaweed's garden in HMF under

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 10:44PM
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Hi seaweed0212 and Strawberryhill,

Thank you for the links and both your roses are impeccable! NO diseased plants and beautiful! I admire your skill in understanding and growing clean plants. I have much to learn.

Strawberryhill, you've been most helpful with all the posts I can find on growing that you've generously posted in various threads. But, still trying to resolve my own growing conditions for the better.

seaweed0212, My question was in looking for a thread, I could follow, where you, also, discuss your methods of rose culture. I live in West Los Angeles and have a heck of a time with the fungus triad: blackspot, rust and powdery mildew. Strawberryhill, mentioned you grow on the coast of California and your plants are spotless, despite the humid cool conditions of most of the year.
I was looking for your words of wisdom from your own garden and experience.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 1:04PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi aztcqn: Seaweed e-mailed me pictures of her roses frequently, since her laptop has problems in posting pics. here. Seaweed's leaves are dark-green .. and NOT pale like mine. Her tap water is LESS ALKALINE than mine. Seaweed is in Costa Mesa, CA. The pH of tap water varies considerably, even within a short distance. My last house, only 1/2 hour away, the tap water was near neutral, versus my current hard water, pH 8.

People in the Rose Forum who live in Los Angeles reported chlorosis (pale leaves) in roses. They mentioned the saline (salt), besides alkaline tap water. My sister lives in Mission Viejo, and there're many diseases that wiped out her roses. I sent her Annie L. McDowell (which does well for me, given our rain water at pH 5.6).

Annie rose died on my sister. She tried lowering the pH of her water with vinegar, that didn't work. That was before I knew about fixing alkaline & saline tap water with gypsum & sulfate of potash. I also have another sister who lived in San Francisco area .. her roses had dark-green leaves & clean ... her tap water is near neutral.

It depends on the source of your water, and how much calcium hydroxide. Calcium Hydroxide is UNSTABLE and binds with potassium and trace elements, causing both chlorosis (pale leaves), and diseases. It depends on how saline (salty) your tap is. In my family of 12 kids (spread-over the country) ... only my sister in Mission Viejo has high blood pressure . The salinity of her local water plays a factor.

In spring time, my roses with rain water (pH 5.6) are 100% clean, dark-green leaves, super-healthy. My zone 5a-winter kill has nothing to do with it, since the year which we had VERY WARM winter, green to tip, roses were still healthy.

In late fall, with drought and watering with high pH of 8 tap water, roses come down with fungal diseases. The salt in fertilizer, and the salt in saline tap water bring down potassium level, and potassium is essential for disease-prevention.

That's why folks put potassium chloride to soften hard water. But potassium chloride is high in salt, at 116.2, versus lower salt sulfate of potash (salt index of 43, plus 21% sulfur to bring down the pH of alkaline tap-water).

The advantage of gypsum is it displaces sodium in the water with calcium, thus de-salt saline-tap-water. Gypsum also has 17% sulfur, to bring down the pH & releases trace elements to make leaves dark-green. Gypsum works best diluting in tap-water, rather than mixing with soil. It's caustic and kills earthworm, plus beneficial bacteria if spread on top (I learned the hard way!).

I asked Seaweed the same questions as you did. Here's what she did: she uses compost (high in potassium & trace-elements), or Kellogg organic soil from Home Depot (with compost & kelp). She puts gypsum at the bottom of her planting hole (diluted 1st with water). She used sulfate of potash ($8 per lb., free shipping from Kelp4Less). For fertilizer, she uses diluted chicken-poo from her own free-range chickens. But most of all, she has near-neutral tap water, and always dark-green leaves.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sat, May 24, 14 at 8:44

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:49PM
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Strawberryhill is right about my garden Costa Mesa, CA with alkaline soil less than Chicago area, I do have black spot, rust and mildew, on some less disease resistant rose plants, Moon Shadow rose, I followed her instruction, added a mixed ground corn meal, oat meal & sunflower diluted with tap last fall leaves budding out nice green and healthy, thanks to Stawberryhill's brilliant idea, my fertilizers by trial & error, including Compost, Amend, soil all purpose for vegetable & flowers, Growmulch, from Kellogg, Good to cut roses before the sun rises, scent & colors are better!
please find this morning's roses: Left big red, Liebeszauber, 3 coral pink Passionate Kisses, 2 right top, Aquarius, mid center, Smoky, right big pink, Sweet Surrender, bottom left, coral Waiheke, yellow Gold Glow, and striped George Burns. Enjoy Memorial Holiday!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Lovely seaweed! Thank you for the beautiful bouquet!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:29PM
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Aaaaw, what a beautiful crop of flowers. Spurs me on! :]

Wow, thank you seaweed0212 and Strawberryhill for taking time to relate the explanations and experience! I will check the tap. I recall it being 7 when I used to have a fish aquarium. Not sure how to test for salt level. I do see some calcium deposits begin to form over a couple of years on and under pots just from the water.

I, also, have a bag of chick poo and my own leaf compost. As much as I hear/read about compost, what Is the best way to use compost with roses? I mix half leaf compost and bag soil to pot other plants in. How do you apply it with roses? I am using corn meal and rust disappeared. But, powdery mildew is rampant. A more alkaline soil is preferred in any case for all these bugs, I understand. Just read that compost may well be good in controlling PM because of fungus predators. What has been your experience?

Thanks for the explanation of using gypsum in water first. If it displaces the sodium, with cal. where does the salt go. Is it now bound with the gypsum?

Am considering sulfate of potash, but, now understand will bring down my ph if it's already near neutral….but okay as trace minerals it makes available will strengthen plants and darken leaves. :] Is that about right?

I am full of questions as I seek to understand the mechanisms and practical uses of the information. And, again, thank you for the responses. I really love learning how to take care of my own. ;]


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 6:03PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi Esmeralda: That's a pretty name, it reminds me of a movie that I like. I once threw acid fertilizer high in nitrogen & salt around roses in hot & dry summer ... THE WORST CASE of mildew, no matter how much tap water given.

After that I used no-salt organic fertilizer in hot summer, zero mildew. Gypsum, with salt index of 8, is useful to break up sodic soil (rock-hard clay), but is NOT RECOMMENDED for saline (salty soil), due to its salt index of 8. What's best for saline soil is plenty of banana peels NPK of 0-3-42 (very high potassium).

If your soil is heavy, dense clay that crust with free lime (sodic soil with high pH near 8 like mine), gypsum is recommended. See excerpt from below from Colorado State University:

"Once the gypsum is applied, sufficient quality water must be added to leach the displaced sodium beyond the root zone. ... adds organic matter which will increase water infiltration and permeability to speed up the reclamation process."

If your soil is saline, gypsum is NOT recommended. Saline soil is less alkaline, but higher in salt. More from Colorado State University:

1.Adding sulfur products only makes sense when:

a) a soil is sodic and has free lime present or, when
b) a soil is basic (high pH).
2.Adding calcium sources, such as gypsum or calcium chloride to saline (not sodic) soils only increases the salt content further and aggravates the salinity problem.

In many cases, the common practice is to apply sufficient amendment to remove most of the adsorbed sodium from the top 6 to 12 inches of soil."

To mix compost in, or to put on top? That depends on your soil: my soil is rock-hard clay, best with lasagna (layering) method. Someone with sandy & saline soil, best with mix-in for moisture retention.

"Green Cure", or potassium bicarbonate is proven effective against mildew. It's high in potassium ...which balance out the salt. An excerpt from Green Cure website: "First, it was found that potassium bicarbonate is 25 to 35 percent more effective than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Second, It was determined that an effective "spreader-sticker" was needed to evenly spread and stick the potassium bicarbonate over a leaf surface to give it the ability to be a powerful fungicide."

My experience with powdery mildew: I accidentally induced it by topping the soil surface with high-nitrogen, high-salt fertilizer with sulfur (acidic). Green cure (potassium bicarbonate) is very alkaline, thus effective in suppressive mildew fungi.

In my college microbiology class, I learned that beneficial bacteria in compost like it alkaline, but pathogenic fungi like mildew and black spots like it neutral to slightly acidic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Colorado State University on sodic vs. saline soil

1 Like    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 9:34AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, Esmeralda, for your questions which alert me to the saline (salt) problem of Southern CA. I buy band-size roses from Burlington Roses in Visalia, CA for the past 3 years. The first year was plenty of rain in Visalia, with dark-green leaves & healthy plants. The second year was less rain for CA, with tiny & wimpy plants, which I had to rinse the root balls in a bucket of water, before the plants improve.

This 3rd year I received the most wimpy plants: less leaves, and much paler leaves, thanks to the drought in CA. The salt in tap water makes plants even paler than high pH. I'm doing to dunk the wimpy root balls into a bucket of water, to rinse off the salt accumulated from fertilizer & tap water of Burlington nursery.

Below picture shows acid-loving azalea in my sodic soil (rock-hard alkaline clay). It bloomed well for 12 years, since I fixed the hole with 1/2 peat moss with pH of 4.5. However, the leaves are always pale, due to my soil pH of 7.7 - Azaleas prefer well-drained soil, with pH 4.5 to 6.5.

Two years ago I got this clever idea of using Schultz acid-fertilizer for azaleas, with NPK 32-10-10, high in chemical nitrogen, thus high in salt. Instead of improving, my azaleas went downhill, thanks to salt-damage: leaves became paler, smaller, and fell off. Zero blooms.

This past winter I ran out of potassium-chloride to de-ice my front walkway. So I used rock-salt. The result? My azalea lost most of its leaves, and the few leaves left are very small, and very pale. Below is the azalea BEFORE high-salt fertilizer, blooming well for pH 7.7 alkaline clay, and pH 8 tap water. My water is alkaline, but NOT saline.

CONCLUSION: Acid-loving plants can tolerate alkalinity if the soil is less salty with organic matter, and if the soil is fluffy enough for roots to be efficient in acid-phosphatase. Blueberries are acid-loving plants, but folks report growing successful crop in alkaline soil, if the soil is amended with plenty of organic matter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia on Acid Phosphatase of cluster roots

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Tue, May 27, 14 at 9:50

1 Like    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 9:33AM
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Hi everyone!

Pretty, Pretty blooms!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 9:26PM
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What is the word on worm casting for roses??

    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 4:28PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I have seen 2 rose-growers used worm casting in pots for roses: Canadian_roses and another one in Australia. Their roses look great, lots of blooms.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 5, 2015 at 5:21PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Outdoors I just try and provide an environment that worms love and

they do the work for free... :-) I have never tried worm castings in pots...The potting soil I use I'm not sure it would even break down organics efficiently?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2015 at 11:09AM
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Aaah, such a beautiful shot of daffodils and azaleas. SO pretty.
I just bought some sulfate of potash from Kelp4Less and have powdered gypsum in the bin'o'nutrients. Am also looking at the info on molasses and vinegar. I hate this drought and already, today and this weekend, it will hit summer temps in the low 90's! I'm trying to get my head to garner all the info and create routine of feeding for all the roses, orchids, cactus & succulents, citrus, and everything in between. I imagine I can usee the SoP on all the other plants for blooms. Need to organize my thoughts.
Straw your baby in your pic is so cute! Love those cheeks!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2015 at 9:38PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi aztcqn: My kid get those cheeks from her Swedish Grandmother. I never get around to make Swedish meatballs for my husband .. I haven't found a meatball recipe that my family likes. The last time I made meatball with chili sauce & grape jelly ... my kid HATES that.

With temps in the low 90's, vinegar is a NO-NO ... I burnt plenty of roses with 1 Tbs. of vinegar in 2 gallon water. Now I use vinegar to kill weeds in hot weather instead. Sulfate of potash is much milder, people use potassium chloride to soften hard-water, but that has salt-index of 112.6. Sulfate of potash has salt index of 43, not bad compared to chemical-nitrogen of over 90. Gypsum has a low-salt index of 8.2, my sister lived near Fremont, CA, and she said gypsum worked well in breaking up her heavy clay there.

My experience with gypsum: works best if diluted in water. Gypsum works well in lowering the pH of alkaline-tap-water (1 tea. per gallon) Gypsum has 17% sulfur. It's a NO-NO to scatter gypsum around roses ... I already tried that, and my roses broke out in rust. Too much calcium plus sulfur from gypsum (calcium sulfate), will result in lowering potassium & lowering pH, which result in rust. Gypsum works great in breaking up heavy clay, but since we get plenty of rain (pH of rain is 5.6 to 6) .... I should use less gypsum than Seaweed (another poster in CA). Seaweed always use gypsum by diluting it in water.

Of the many experiments I did, and the many chemicals & organics that I tried ... I like alfalfa hay as mulch best. It keeps the soil moist in hot weather, plus cheap at $8 per big bale from the feed store. When the alkaline tap water goes through alfalfa hay, the break-down of the hay BUFFERS the alkalinity of the water. The acids released by organics breaking down is MUCH BETTER than the acid in vinegar or sulfur. I have seen vinegar and sulfur killed earthworms, but beneath a decaying organic like alfalfa hay or leaves ... there're always plenty of eath worms.

2 Likes    Bookmark   March 13, 2015 at 7:40AM
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