Keeping a garden healthy doesn’t always mean spending a fortune at the store. Sometimes items that you have lying around the house are perfectly capable of doing the job. Throughout the years many a resourceful gardener has figured out how to keep their roses happy with various home remedies.
We’ve gathered the best bits of wisdom to come up with this top 10 list of household rose remedies. A true rosarian should never throw out:
- Banana Peels. Thanks to their high concentrations of macronutrients, especially Potassium, banana peels are a great additive for the soil, increasing your roses’ bloom power and overall health. Just be sure to prepare the peels by chopping them up first—that way pests won’t dig them up. Some people dehydrate the peels and make them a dust. I like to throw them in the freezer, and once I have a good stack I liquefy them in the blender with some warm water then pour this banana peel slushy on my roses’ roots. Bonus: Banana peels are also rumored to deter aphids.
- Dishwater. A great way to conserve water is to keep a pot at the bottom of the sink when you do dishes, and after you’re done, pour the washwater on your garden. You’ll be helping the environment by saving water, but this practice can also increase the health of your garden. The soap won’t hurt your plants if it is well diluted (and doesn’t contain any chlorine bleach), but it can help to kill soft-bodied bugs (like aphids) lurking in the soil. You can do the same thing with water that you used to cook pasta or vegetables (once its cooled off). This water usually has some nutrients left in it, creating a kind of weak compost tea.
- Coffee Grounds. Another great soil amendment. Coffee grounds are great rose food because they are high in Phosphorous, Potassium, and Magnesium. Their fine texture and high moisture absorption also make them excellent at improving the tilth of your soil. Note that coffee raises the pH of your soil, so be careful about over-use.
- Cinnamon. This natural fungicide can be handy to sprinkle in your potting soil or soil amendments to prevent soil-borne diseases. To prevent foliar diseases, mix the cinnamon in warm water, let it steep overnight, then strain it out and spray that water on the leaves.
- Baking Soda. This can act as a fungicide. Dilute 1 teaspoon to 1 quart of warm, soapy water and spray on your roses’ leaves. The baking soda will treat and prevent diseases like black spot, while the soap helps it stick, and is also mildly effective at smothering many insects pests.
- Straw. A lot of roses need winter protection, especially if they are grafted. A cheap and effective way to protect your roses through the winter is to surround them with some type of basket (chicken wire works well) and to fill that up with a natural insulator like straw.
- Old Pantyhose. Because they breathe and stretch, old pantyhose are great for tying plant stems to structures without harming them. This makes them excellent for training roses as well as other climbing plants like Clematis or Tomatoes.
- Egg Shells. Crushed up and placed in a ring around plants, egg shells are said to provide a barrier against slugs and other soft-bodied critters.
- For a larger garden this could take a LOT of egg shells and time. A more practical use is to grind the egg shells as fine as possible and add them to your compost. This adds plenty of Calcium to keep your roses (or other plants) healthy!
- Milk. Yes, believe it or not, milk is actually pretty good at keeping powdery mildew and even black spot at bay. Horticultural professor Jeff Gillman recommends creating a mixture of 2 parts water to 1 part milk and spraying that on the leaves (not the roots) once a week. Exactly why it is effective I couldn’t tell you, but one theory is that all the calcium helps fortify the leaves’ natural defenses against fungus.
- Beer! If you find that your roses are getting munched on by slugs, set out a bowl of beer overnight and let them drown themselves. Plus, a frosty brew is a great reward after an honest day’s work in the garden!