Q: I am confused about the numbers on rose plant food packages. What is the ideal number combination to achieve rose blossoms? I have two products, one with 10-60-10 and the other with 12-6-10. Which is best for my needs?
A: In general, fertilizers having the first number (Nitrogen) higher than the middle number (Phosphorus) are designed to encourage the plant to grow bigger. Fertilizers with the middle number higher than the first number are designed to make sure the soil has plenty of phosphorus, which can limit blooming if levels are low. My recommendation is to use the 12-6-10 in spring when the rose first starts growing. Four weeks later, apply the 10-60-10 to give the plant phosphorus. After the first big flush of blooms, go back to the 12-6-10 to maintain the rose for the summer.