Growing Roses with Liquid Worm Castings (Worm Tea)

"...in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow, lies the seed that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes the rose." ("The Rose" by Amanda McBroom, 1977.)

One of my favorite topics is the many uses for liquid worm castings, ‘worm tea', in the garden. This unique organic fertilizer is especially effective when used to grow roses, perhaps the most favored flowers on earth and certainly the most discussed. Some refer to them as ‘The Queen of Flowers'. They certainly are my favorite and, judging their popularity worldwide, the favorites of millions of gardeners.

‘Worm tea' is the solution derived from worm castings (worm manure) brewed in water with some aeration over a short period. The resultant type of liquid fertilizer is a helpful agent for growing all plants. This 100% organic natural product contains abundant nutrient and mineral essentials roses need to thrive. Also, it is highly effective for insect and disease control as a side benefit. It really is an all -in - one product.

Roses are perceived to be persnickety flowers to grow ostensibly requiring an inordinate amount of horticultural knowledge and effort. While it is true that they are susceptible to a host of diverse diseases and numerous types of insect attacks and that some folks may be intimidated by these factors, there are ways to assist growing them which produce much easier and more rewarding results.

Healthy and robust roses require only four simple things to flourish and generate beautiful blossoms: good soil, plenty of sun, adequate water, and a balanced feeding routine. Perfect these factors and you are home free.

The soil you plant the rose bush in should be light and rich in organic material, somewhat on the sandy side, to ensure good drainage and ease of root development. Avoid heavy clay type soil. When planting, ensure that the planting hole is at least thirty inches deep and the same in width to allow for robust root development.

Placing the rose bush in the proper location ensures the sun part of the process. Before planting, ascertain the sunniest part of your garden or yard and choose that spot. Don't force a rose into a shaded area. Most all of them won't do well there.

Watering well, at least three times a week in the very hottest time of year, is important - deep watering so that water percolates down to the root zone is imperative. I prefer to draw three to five gallons of tap water and let it sit in a container in the sun for at least eight hours to ‘outgas' due to the presence of chloride/fluoride. These are ‘salts' and gradually build up harmful deposits in the soil. This applies if you are using city water. If you are fortunate to have a well as a water source you are lucky and most likely can use the water as drawn. An added benefit of natural spring/well water is the minerals dissolved in it.

As for the feeding part of the equation, any worm castings, dry or liquid, used to grow roses are nature's miracle fertilizer. Dry castings dug into the soil around the rose bush are a slow release fertilizer and soil enhancer. However, I have had better results using a ‘brewed' liquid worm tea ‘blend' consisting of high quality worm castings, Yucca shidigera extract, and pure unfiltered mountain spring water as a foliar spray and root watering application.

Plants have pores (stomata) in their leaves as we have in our skin. They ‘breath' through these pores and can absorb the liquid worm castings solution as well. Root feeding is all well and good; it has its place, but foliar feeding is faster and more complete. Within hours of liberally spraying liquid worm tea on a rose, the bush has absorbed the ‘food' and is circulating it throughout its system. (Do this in the cooler part of the day: early morning or late afternoon and not in the direct sun of midday.) Results can be seen in days rather than weeks as is the case with soil/root feeding.

A weekly regimen of both is perhaps the optimum solution as that works well for my roses.

I ensure I use a liquid worm tea product with natural yucca extract added. Yucca is a ‘wetting' agent (surfactant) and essentially makes water ‘wetter'. Therefore, the blend is absorbed more readily by plants either in root feeding or foliar use. Yucca also contains natural steroids; these invigorate the plant and may assist in repelling insects.

The worm tea I use is brewed using natural mountain spring water which contains a multitude of essential minerals and other microscopic elements for the rose to absorb directly and to enhance the soil.

The question of worm castings tea as a disease suppressant and insect repellent is still being debated. Much evidence indicates it to be a factor. High quality worm tea contains natural chemicals, such as chitinase, that insects do not like and will avoid eating or sucking the juices of a plant that is well inoculated with the product. Shidigera yucca extract contains certain natural steroidal elements, such as saponin, which also seem repulsive to insects.

The symbiotic effect of all these factors makes liquid worm castings ideal for all your gardening needs. The combination of pure worm castings, yucca extract, and mountain spring water in a worm tea ‘blend' makes liquid worm castings a great tonic for roses!

The bottom line in growing roses is that it need not be as complicated a task as some would lead you to believe. Buy a high quality hybrid rose bush to start, plant it in a sunny location in a good soil mix, water it as needed, and feed it using a quality liquid worm tea blend. Bet you like the results! Your reward will be lush, healthy green leaves, sturdy roots and branches, and ample beautiful and fragrant blossoms.

"God gave us a memory so we would have roses in winter."

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