Tips Growing Roses in a Tropical Climate

If gardening is one of your daily activities to keep you busy, then these tips on growing roses will come in handy. When you pass the 60-year barrier, it is important to make any physical activity a regular part of your daily life (and don't forget to eat the Immune Boosting Superfood to recharge your body).

Gardening to me is very therapeutic. It can even be beneficial if you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Yes, it can also be stressful when you get garden pest all over your plants. But overall, it gives you a satisfying feeling, especially with roses.

This post will cover:
  • Rose requirement for sunlight, water, soil, fertilizer, proper drainage, and pruning.
  • How to care for roses
  • Make your own homemade fertilizers from items in the kitchen
  • How to make your own homemade organic fertilizer using banana - Fermented Banana Juice Fertilizer
  • How to plant roses in pots


grow roses in tropical climate

Growing Roses in the Tropics

When you live in the tropical climate, it gets even more challenging to grow roses, especially the special hybrid such as the David Austin varieties. So selecting the right variety is one of the most important steps to growing roses in the tropics. I will cover this in my other post (coming soon). This post will look at the growing aspect of the plant. So, let's check it out.

1. Do Roses Need Direct Sunlight?

Yes, they do. In fact, roses need full sun, at least six hours of sunlight daily. You will have no problem with this when you are in the tropics. 

But direct afternoon sun can be very taxing on the rose plant, especially during the dry hot spell. So choose a spot that gets both full morning and afternoon sun but partially shaded from the direct scorching sun. 

2. What is the Best Soil to Grow Roses?

Roses require a well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost. The ideal soil pH is at 6.5. If the soil is acidic (pH below 6.5), sprinkle powdered agricultural limestones to the soil. If the soil is too alkaline, you can use aluminum sulfate or sulfur to lower the pH. If you have to do all these, then apply them in small amounts at any one time. Monitor and test for the pH regularly.

If you need a professional soil test kit to use at home, you should buy Environmental Concepts 1662 Professional Soil Test Kit with 40 Tests.  On Amazon.com it is available at about $21 for 40 tests. The tests are easy to conduct and for that price, it is value for money.

soil to grow roses in tropical country

Alfalfa Meal for Rose Soil

Your soil mixtures should include good micro-organisms to break down the soil elements that provide food for the rose plants. To do this you can add Alfalfa Meal which gives nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and triacontanol, a growth regulator and stimulant. If you live in Kuala Lumpur, you can buy this at Ace Hardware Shop. It sells for about RM46+ and is in the fertilizer section.

Kelp Meal for the Soil

You can also add Kelp Meal, which is a slow release soil component for potassium and over 70 other essential trace minerals, amino acids and growth hormones.



Banana Peel for Roses

Finally, add Compost to the soil. This is decomposed organic matter that will increase microorganism activities. For this, I like to use banana peels. Dig out a small hole around your rose plant. Then place the banana peel with the inside of the peel facing the ground and cover with soil. If I am lazy, I blend the banana peel and then 'water' the rose plant. It adds potassium to the soil.
It will also give roses brilliant colors. You can also add tree barks, dried leaves etc. as mulch. This helps to keep their roots cool during the hot sunny days.

Where to get banana peels? Besides the obvious answer of buying a banana, the best place is from your favorite banana fritter seller. You will get a bagful of banana peels!  If you are from Malaysia, you will have no problem as there are many banana fritter sellers and he/she will be happy to give you the banana peels. They will throw it into the garbage bin anyway! So why not recycle it as a fertilizer!

3. Keeping the Soil Well-Drained

Roses need a well-drained soil and keeping it well-drained is the challenging part in the hot and wet tropical climate. Therefore the best way to plant roses is in a mound i.e. a little higher than your garden bed. This will help the roots from getting soggy during the raining season.


RELATED POST: Alternative Way to Relax & to Keep You Busy 

4. How Often Do You Need to Water Roses?

To help a rose plant settled once you transplant from pot to garden, water it about an hour before it is planted. Water the plant daily. The best time is early morning or late afternoon. But during the hot spell, give the plant a good soaking at least once a week.
When watering, spray the undersides of the leaves as well as this will deter bugs.

Trivia: Do you know that the more you water during the growing season, the longer their stem will be?

5. Best Fertilizer for Roses

There are many rose fertilizers available but the organic fertilizer will give nutrients not just for the plant but will also enrich the soil. If you prefer chemical fertilizer, then apply Alfalfa Meal and Kelp Meal along with this fertilizer. Epsom Salt is also another good choice for beautiful blooms. You can buy Epsom salt at the chemist, such as The Guardian. Add 2 tablespoons of  Epsom Salts to 3 gallons of water for watering your rose plant. Do this on a monthly basis.

So which chemical fertilizer to use? To start with, choose a high-quality brand with a well-balanced NPK rating. Liquid fertilizer is better than the granular type as most rose plants find it hard to process especially during their early growth stages.

So my choice is Miracle Gro for Roses, which I used with success. This is also available at Ace Hardware shop.

Remember to water the plant before and after applying the fertilizer. Without adequate water, the fertilizer, which is basically salt, will burn your rose plant.

Make Your Own Homemade Fertilizers

There are many things in the kitchen that are good for your rose plants. Some of these are:
  • Egg Shells: Crush them into a fine powder and sprinkle it around the rose plant soil. Why? Because egg shells contain about 1% nitrogen, 1/2 % phosphoric acid, calcium and other trace elements. 
  • Cooking Water: Water that was used to boil fish, meat, pasta, vegetables are good for your plants as different nutrients are released into the water as you boil these foods. Let the water cool down before using.
  • Aquarium Water: If you have a freshwater fish aquarium, then whenever you clean your water tank, use the 'soiled water' to water the plant. Why? Because fish waste makes a great plant fertilizer.
  • Powdered Milk: I bet you didn't know this! Powdered milk is a good source of calcium which is important for healthy root growth. Use your 'spoilt' or expired milk powder (too expensive to use fresh milk powder) and mixed into the soil prior to planting.  
Or you can try this:

Homemade Organic Fertilizer - Fermented Banana Juice Fertilizer

Here is a simple organic fertilizer that you can brew yourself at home that is guaranteed to give beautiful blooms not just for rose plants but for any flowering plants.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg over-ripe bananas
  • 1 kg brown sugar

Method

  • Cut the bananas into small pieces(together with the skin)
  • Mix in the brown sugar
  • Then place the mixture into any container, cover the top with a cloth and tie tightly to prevent ants or flies to enter
  • Place the container in a cool dry place and let it ferment for two weeks
  • On the 15th day, you are ready to use this homemade fermented banana juice fertilizer

How to Apply

  • Dilute the mixture at a ratio of 10ml mixture to 1L water
  • Apply directly to the soil or do foliar feeding
  • Frequency: 2 times a week
For the full article on this fermented banana juice fertilizer plus PHOTOS, check my article 'Homemade Organic Fertilizer - Fermented Banana Juice Fertilizer Recipe'

6. Rose Plant Nutrient Deficiency

If the leaves develop yellow veins or yellowing between the veins, then your rose plant may not have enough nutrients. The solution is simple. Apply the fertilizer or try another brand that might work better on your plant and soil type.

In fact, it is better to rotate your inorganic or chemical fertilizer brands to reduce any salts build-up from each of these brands.
pruning for roses

7. Pruning for Roses

Roses need a light pruning after blooming. This will later produce a couple of short-stemmed flowers. If you prune more i.e. up to 24inches is cut off, you will a bushier plant. Severe pruning leaving only up to 10 inches of stem from the main stem, will give fewer flowers but with larger blooms. 

Pruning is highly recommended as it removes diseased and dead stems. It also reduces the overall size of the plant.

Aerate the soil after pruning. Then add compost, superphosphate and your favorite fertilizer to help new strong shoots to grow. Then water the plant to help with the uptake of these elements.

8. How to Care for Roses

Roses tend to attract various insects and fungi but I hate to use the chemical and toxic insecticides. I experimented with lemon grass and it works.

Buy a couple of lemon grass stalks (or plant them yourself), then crush them and leave it in water overnight. (or boil it if you are in a hurry, but wait for water to cool down before using). Next morning use this water and spray it on your rose plant. I do this every four days. Yes, it can be a chore, but it has to be, as lemon grass oils are not 'strong enough' to be used every fortnight to be effective.

Try it and let us know if it is working on your plants.

Plant Roses in Pots

If you live in an apartment or has limited garden spaces in your link house, why not plant roses in pots or any containers of your choice? 

I have seen friends having beautiful container grown roses that have been around for years. If you want to give it a try just make sure you place it at a location that received the most hours of direct sunlight.
  • Pots/Containers: Preferably of clay or ceramic material as plastic pots will be hot when under the sun, hence bad for the plant roots. It must, of course, have the drainage holes. 
  • Drainage: For proper drainage, I prefer to put small pebbles at the bottom layer, followed by a layer of plastic mesh (the green mosquito screen that you buy from the hardware shop will work fine) and finally the soil (potting mix).
  • Potting Mix: Use quality potting mix (you can buy from Ace Hardware).
  • Re-Pot: It is good to re-pot every two to three years not just to refresh the soil, but to prune the roots (if you want to use the same pot or keep the plant small) or to transplant to a bigger container.
  • Windy Spot: Place your potted rose plant in an area that will receive not just direct sunlight, but also where it is windy. The wind will dry up the rose plant faster when wet and provide air circulation. These will help prevent diseases and pests from affecting the plant. 
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize your potted rose plants grown in containers only with water-soluble or liquid fertilizers. Do this on a more frequent basis
Otherwise, the watering and pruning methods as mentioned earlier, still apply to potted rose plants.

Check Out My Other Plant Articles

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Any Comments to Share?

Thanks for dropping by and if you have any comment or tips to share, feel free to use the comment box below. 

Cheers



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Comments

JennieL said…
I have been having problems with rose plants and I guess it must be the drainage issue. Will try your suggestion to plant in on a mound
60plus said…
Jennie, yes it might be so give it a try and see if it works. And do come back here and share. Cheers.
Susan said…
Yes, I agree. Alfalfa and Epsom Salt are great for Roses. Give them a try. You get beautiful blooms.
Anonymous said…
Planting roses in the tropics may sounds simple but can be difficult. So I must try your suggestion to see if it works.
Denis said…
I live in Europe and roses grow well here. I was recently in Thailand and I saw many rose plants with big beautifil blooms. My initial thought was how can it grow so well here in Bangkok. So I guess they must have followed what you suggested.
Roseadmirer said…
If your soil is clayish whuch will become very hard on hot sunny days, then before planting, dig a hole at least twice as wide than the root balls. This will give the roots space to grow.
Just sharing what I learnt.
Anonymous said…
You can also use alfalfa tea for your roses. I find this a better way instead of applying alfalfa direct to the soil.
Mei said…
I use lemon grass extract that are sold in the supermarket as natural pesticide for ants, cockroaches etc. I didn't know it also works on plant. Must give this a try.

60plus said…
Susan, thank you for this reaffirmation.
60plus said…
Please come back and share your experience, both success and failure, soon. Thanks.
60plus said…
Denis, I hope so! :-)
60plus said…
Hey, Roseadmirer thanks for this information.
60plus said…
That is good. I must also try this! Thanks.
60plus said…
I have not tried the lemongrass extract although i have seen them in the supermarket. Do come back and let us know if it worked for you.