Feeding hedges, shrubs and roses
The first thing we should address is if it’s actually necessary to feed your plants. And the simple answer is yes. However, this differs between different types of plants; whereas Roses and containerised plants require regular feeding, hedges and shrubs can get by with the occasional feed. Many gardeners presume that plants only need feeding when they begin to show signs of poor growth, however poor growth can also be related to other factors such as drought, pests and weather damage, rather than a lack of nutrients. So when exactly should you feed? This depends on the type of plant and the type of feed you are using – this blog will help you to understand when to feed, how often to feed and the best fertilisers to choose.
1. When to feed
The two main signs that your plants need feeding are if they begin to display yellowing leaves which can be caused by a nutrient deficiency, or if your hedges and shrubs are growing at a slower rate than normal and producing lower yields of flowers and fruit. However, you don’t need to wait for your plants to show signs of a deficiency before feeding, it’s a good idea to give them a boost as the new growing season begins too.
Spring and summer are the best times to feed plants as this gives them good preparation for the growing season, although some organic fertilisers can be applied in late winter if they are slow releasing.
2. Choosing a fertiliser
Fertilisers are used to feed plants directly rather than the soil as they contain very concentrated sources of nutrients. Fertilisers differ by the varying levels of nutrients they contain.
Bonemeal – This is an organic, slow-releasing fertiliser that aids plant growth and development by helping to establish a strong, healthy root system.
Applied in spring, Bonemeal can increase flower and berry yields.
Seaweed plant feed – Seaweed feed is an organic, liquid fertiliser that contains a combination of nutrients that promote the growth of both roots and shoots.
Compost – Garden compost and well-rotted manure can also be used to feed plants, however, unlike fertilisers, they are more beneficial to the soil structure and contain much lower concentrations of plant nutrients. They can be used as mulch to condition the soil and make it easier for the plant roots to find and absorb the nutrients that are already present in the soil.
Fertilisers work best when applied to damp soil as the moisture helps to move the fertiliser down towards the root system, so a good time to feed your plants is after it has rained.
Unlike a lot of plants, Roses are known for their appetite and they respond well to a good feed.
You should give your Roses their first feed in spring using an organic fertiliser and this can be followed immediately after with a mulch of well-rotted organic matter should you wish.
During summer we recommend feeding your Roses once a month when they are in the growing period – Roses in containers can be fed once every two weeks. This may seem like a lot of feeding but Roses require a good amount of nutrients to reach their full flowering potential and maintain healthy growth.
Early autumn is the best time to stop feeding your Roses as there needs to be at least four to six weeks between their last feed and the first frosts to ensure new growth is not damaged by the cold.
Shrubs and hedges
Although shrubs and hedges are not quite as hungry as Roses, they do benefit from an annual feed.
In early spring, use an all-purpose, organic fertiliser to feed your trees, shrubs and hedges. This will aid healthy growth and will especially benefit new, weak or recently pruned plants.
It’s also possible to feed your hedges and shrubs in late winter, using a fertiliser such as Bonemeal is good for this as it releases its nutrients slowly in the lead up to spring.
For more information on fertilisers and feeding, take a look at our planting essentials section, you’ll find everything you need to know to give your plants the best gardening grub.