If you’re asking whether you can feed roses with tomato feed, you’ve probably run out of your standard rose fertiliser, but you’ve spotted your tomato feed lying around, and you’re wondering if you can use this instead! Or perhaps you’re looking to save money and wondering whether one type of fertiliser can work miracles for other plants too!
You can definitely feed your roses with tomato feed! In fact, the high levels of potassium found in tomato feed such as Tomorite and similar brands, encourages roses to bloom faster, and to grow bigger blooms. Potassium is an essential mineral that helps your roses to take in more water, and helps your roses to create its own sugar, essential plant food! So if you’re looking for a substitute rose food, or you’ve run out of your usual rose fertiliser, yes, you can use tomato feed for your roses safely as a replacement.
But wait! it’s not quite as simple as throwing on some dashes of tomato feed and hoping it will do the job, and your roses might even be better off without any fertiliser at all. Deciding how much tomato food to give to your roses really depends on your soil type, time of year, and even the positioning of your rose plant. You’ll want to avoid putting tomato feed when growing a new rose, as it doesn’t contain the right nutrients.
How Much Tomato Food Should I Give To My Rose?
Knowing how much tomato food to give your rose plant is simple – however actually giving it to your roses is a little more tricky!
To know how much tomato food to give to your roses, simply follow the instructions on the label, and then reduce the amount by up to one-third. (If you’ve got no idea what your label says (faded in the sun? in a foreign language? then around half a cup can work well)!
The reason for this is that tomato feed is very rich in potassium, and over-feeding roses can cause as many problems as under-feeding. (In fact, some gardeners never feed their roses! – which, if you think of wild roses which bloom without any human intervention, makes sense, However to do this, you’ll need to have nutrient rich soil and plenty of sunshine. And if you don’t, well, that’s what fertiliser is for)! Overfeeding your roses will lead to yellow leaves and even your plant dying!
How Often Should I Give My Rose Plant Tomato Feed?
If you’ve just run out of your standard rose feed and you’re using this as a temporary replacement, a single dose of tomato feed works well to give your plant the nutrients they need.
However on an ongoing basis, give your rose plant tomato feed on a weekly or every other week basis. Some gardeners like to alternative rose feed with tomato feed on a weekly basis – one week rose food, one week tomato feed, to give that big burst of potassium that roses love!
How To Give Tomato Feed To Rose Plants
I used to think using plant food was as simple as throwing the fertiliser on to the soil and hey presto, big beautiful roses would appear! Actually, there is a major step involved in feeding your roses fertiliser that most people miss. If you’re going to feed your rose plants with tomato fertiliser, one important step you must take is clearing away other plants from the base of the plant.
So if you’ve got companion plants, or even the odd week around the base of your plant, you’ll need to pull them up. Otherwise, the other plants around the base of the soil will suck up all of that delicious tomato feed before your rose plant (which often has deep, and / or ‘leggy’ roots) even gets a chance!
So, how to give tomato feed to rose plants.
- Clear the surrounding area close to your rose plant (about a hands-width away from the main stem or cane of your rose)
- Note the instructions on the tomato feed label – some fertiliser might need diluting, so, read carefully.
- Use about 1/3 of the recommended amount, or 1/2 cup
- Sprinkle around the base of your rose
- Monitor your rose over the next 3-5 days for any obvious changes in appearance
- Repeat weekly or bi-weekly
Will Tomato Feed Damage Other Plants Close To My Rose Plant?
As tomato food is nutrient-rich, it won’t damage any plant in your garden! (Unless you over-use it, and to avoid that, just follow the label with care).
Roses especially love tomato feed. In fact, some gardeners use tomato feed as an all-purpose fertiliser for all of their plants, and it’s also especially good for potted plants. (So if you have a potted rose, tomato feed is extra- perfect for you)!
Applying Tomato Feed When Planting Roses – Caution!
Although most of the time tomato feed is a near-perfect rose food, there is one time not to use tomato feed on roses. Do not use tomato feed when planting rose seeds, or encouraging a rose plant to root. Perhaps you’re planting a seedling, or propagating a cutting – do not use tomato feed here!
Potassium is not the main mineral needed to encourage your budding rose plant to root and take hold in the soil, and tomato feed is heavy on potassium. It’s great for established rose bushes, or rose bushes in bloom, but it is near-pointless to add to new rose plants, or those just starting out.
To help your new rose plants take root, you’re better off using good old fashioned horse manure spread around the base or budding plant! Manure contains the essential nitrogen your new rose needs to root and take hold in the soil. Tomato feed isn’t particularly high in this element, preferring to contain high levels of potassium instead, so it’s not the best thing to apply in this situation.
While tomato feed won’t harm your budding seed or rose plant, it will effectively become almost useless as the rose plant won’t use it. It will just leech away into the soil. Use manure or a specific rooting hormone to help your new rose plant take hold and grow good roots in the soil. Then, once it’s established and flowering, you can use tomato fertiliser to help its future blooms to grow big and beautiful!
What Else Can I Use Instead Of Fertiliser To Fertilise My Roses?
If you’re passionate about organic growing like we are, you can purchase organic tomato feed to help your roses to grow. If you don’t have any organic tomato feed to hand, or you’ve run out of your traditional rose fertiliser and you’re unsure of what to use instead, try some of these!
1. Banana Peel
Banana peel contains high potassium just like tomato feed! Remove some banana skins and spread them around face down on top of your soil. You can also plant them lightly below the surface for it to work quickly and deliver that much needed nutrient to your flowers! Use 3-5 skins for a large rose bush, and one split into pieces for a small (not miniature) potted rose.
2. Eggshells and coffee grains
I’ll be honest with this one – I applied coffee granules and ground eggshell and it almost killed my small potted rose! I think I used too many, far too close to the stem. You’ll want to make sure you spread around a teaspoon only of this mix around the soil close by but not close to the stem for this to work. On a larger rose bush, you can use up to a tablespoon of this mixture.
It’s easy to make a DIY fertiliser at home just using simple kitchen ingredients. Simply mix together a little yoghurt, coffee granules, eggshells, black tea and water, and sprinkle close to your roses. See the full recipe here!
Finally, if you have soil that is rich in nutrients, you can always choose not to add any food at all to your rose – they often thrive being left alone!
However if you don’t happen to have nutrient rich soil, and you’re looking for a quick and easy, budget substitute for rose fertiliser – you can confidently apply tomato food to your plants, knowing it will help your roses to flourish.