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Epsom Salts for Roses

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Q: I've heard that Epsom salts are good for roses. How much of it should I use and how often? Do you have any other suggestions for care of roses?

Hardiness Zone: 10a

Thank you.
Mary from Redding, CA

A: Mary,

Rose growers sometimes use Epsom salt in order to add magnesium to the soil. Roses tend to be heavy feeders of magnesium, but if you already feed you roses a balanced fertilizer containing magnesium, you probably don't need to add any to your soil. A soil test is the only way to tell for sure. If you do need it, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons around each bush once a month before watering. Any more and you could risk hurting your plants. Follow these general tips for raising good roses:

1. When planting, older varieties tend to be hardier, so do potted vs. bare-root roses.

2. Roses should be planted in the late spring and early summer to give roots time to develop before winter.

3. Plant roses in rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5 to 7.

4. Planting holes need to be at least 2 1/2 times the size of the root ball.

5. Give roses a good, deep soaking (4-5 gallons) once per week.

6. Feed roses lightly (but often) from spring until 6-8 weeks before your first frost.

7. Keep canes healthy by following a regular pruning and maintenance schedule according to the rose type (bush, tree, climbing).

The Shasta Rose Society in Redding, CA, has a good web site with tips for caring for roses in your climate. It also lists events, meetings, tours, and a Rosarian Expert that you can email with specific questions about roses in your area.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By lynda [12]10/08/2006

since I'm not eating roses, nor planting edibles around them, I broke down and made one exception to my Organic Garden, applying "systemic Rose spray" to my rose bush in the Spring. I got no
black spot, but even though I used fertilizer/banana
peelings, and Epsom Salts, I got NOT A SINGLE BLOOM, just some average looking canes with avg. growth of leaves...UNTIL I APPLIED used COFFEE GROUNDS to the clay soil it's planted in.

If it weren't Fall, I believe the poor rose bush might just sprout buds, since it's greened up at all the ends of the canes, adding more leaves there. I plan to plant a couple of water bottles to see if it was uneven water or drainage that prevented blooms.

I know it is best to prune on Valentine's Day each year, and perhaps I will finally find the secret one
day next Spring. To help in my frustration, I found
a wonderful large silk rose plant/flowers at the Dollar Store ON SALE for next to nothing, and placed it near the bottom within the bush. Unconsciously I
feel BETTER. LOL, but it insulted the bush, I'm certain. I'm NOT taking it out until it blooms on its own. : ) God HELP the rose bush.

By sue (Guest Post)04/20/2006

I have never heard of using banana peal. Does it take the place of Epsom salts? I have already put Epsom salts on my roses should I also bury a banana peal? What about feeding with alfalfa meal and would alfalfa pellets work as well??

By Mom (Guest Post)03/09/2006

I put 2 liter bottles with holes in them in the holes with the rose bushes. When I water the roses i fill up the bottles and put the top back on them....they drain slowly and right at the roots. Helps the bushes roots grow better, and keeps the water from drying to quickly during drought times.

By Arlene (Guest Post)02/05/2006

This is what I do according to directions I got from an old farmer. I sprinkle epsom salts all around the rose bush, once each spring and once each fall. I do not water it. I just let the rain wash it in when it comes. I do not measure it. I just sprinkle till white all around the bush. My roses bloom and bloom.

By Mary (Guest Post)02/05/2006

I already know about the banana peels for roses. My family thought I was crazy for planting them under my rose bushes. Thanks for the tip anyhow though. It really is appreciated. Anything for black spot?
Thanks again.

Mary M.

By (Guest Post)02/04/2006

I use banana peels and they make the roses go crazy! Just bury them near the plant.

By Linda Bolander [1]02/04/2006

I put Epsom salts in the water with the plant food, along with some fish emollient and some superthrive and some maxicrop during the summer to water all my outdoor plants. I also use a little Cal-Mag to all by Brugs.

By Mary McLuckie (Guest Post)02/04/2006

Thank you for the feeding tip using Epsom salts, fish emollient and Miracle Grow. I shall try this very soon on my roses.
Anyone else that has any other tips for care of roses, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you and God bless...

Mary McLuckie

By Karen (Guest Post)02/04/2006

I have found bananna peel works better than epson salts. Just dig a small hole next to each stem, does not neet to be deep, and add half of a bananna peel, and cover. You will see more blooms, and healthy roses.

By Twila Wales [5]02/03/2006

I live in zone 8. I put 1 tablespoon of epsom salts,1 tablespoon of fish emollient and 1 tablespoon of miracle grow mixed in 1 gallon of water on my roses. I put this on every two weeks.

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