Some amateurs underfeed rather than overfeed their roses. You should not hesitate to give a "boost" to any established rose-bush which is reluctant to make fresh growth. It is often said that aphids and other pests thrive on the soft, sappy shoots produced by the heavy use of chemical fertilizers, but heavy infestations are by no means confined to such growth. However, it is advisable not to use commercial fertilizers on newly planted roses until they are fully rooted in.

The main elements of plant growth are nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and, to a lesser extent, minor or trace elements such as magnesium. Roses rarely suffer from nitrogen deficiency, which can be recognized by pale green leaves and weak growth. Typical signs of phosphorus deficiency are bronze or purplish markings on the foliage, as well as fewer, smaller blooms. Shortage of available potash is more evident on light, sandy soil. It causes rosebushes to develop a scorched appearance, with browning around the edges of the leaves.
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