How to Make Alfalfa Tea for a Rose Fertilizer
Written by: Dottie Baltz
Alfalfa tea is probably the best rose fertilizer you can use. It's easy and inexpensive to make and it's organic. It won't burn your plants, can be used once or twice a month and is also good for other flowering shrubs and perennials. I would not recommend it for Rugosa roses however; they prefer not to be fertilized.
- Sit a 30-gallon trash can in a sunny location away from the house (this mixture will get stinky as it ages).
- Fill the trash can with rain water or tap water that has been allowed to sit overnight. If the water contains chlorine, you want that to evaporate.
- Pour in at least 16 cups of alfalfa meal, alfalfa pellets, or several small bales of alfalfa hay. Generally, you can find alfalfa in some form or another at a farm supply store or a good quality pet shop. Make sure the only thing in it is alfalfa.
- Stir the mixture, cover with lid and let it sit for one day. Come back on the second day and stir the mixture and then add one cup of Epsom salts. Allow the mixture to sit for 7-10 days, stirring at least once each day. You will know the mixture is ready when it gets very stinky and is foamy on top.
- On the day you will be using the mixture, do not stir it. You want to keep the sludge on the bottom. To use the mixture, simply dip a bucket or watering can into the liquid, being careful not to disturb the sludge on the bottom. Pour directly on top of the soil around each rose bush. Use at least 2-gallons per rose bush.
- It doesn't really matter what form the alfalfa is in, but the alfalfa meal will be ready sooner.
- Use immediately for the best results. This will ensure that all the beneficial micro-organisms that have been created are still alive when you drench the soil.
- The sludge left in bottom of the can can be put on the compost pile, or reused one more time.
- Use once a month during the growing season. Stopping 6 weeks before your first frost.
- Though roses really like this concoction, most flowering plants and shrubs will benefit. My Clematis love it especially.
- Alfalfa tea can also be sprayed on the foliage for a quicker pick me up.
- Because this concoction tends to stinks, place container away from the house and keep covered. The smell will dissipate a few hours after application. Apply on a rainy day to help disperse the smell even quicker. I've never had anyone complain of the smell though, so it may not be that noticeable when they are not in your yard.