Is Cow Manure Good for Roses?

Adding cow manure to roses will change physical, biological and chemical aspects of the soil.

Rose plant is a perennial plant that require significant amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium along with micro-nutrients to produce big and beautiful blossoms.

Cow manure isn’t a uniform product; it consists of cattle dung, bedding and straw. Key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium can be found in cow manure.

But, reports state that fresh cow manure may contain pathogens and bacteria that can damage plant growth.

So, is cow manure good for roses?

Yes, it benefits your rose plant with essential key nutrients.

Above mentioned nutrients are truly available in cow manure, which can contribute to healthy growth of rose plant.

But, you must learn how to use this organic fertilizer to enrich your roses. Else, you can end-up attracting E coli bacteria.

Cow Manure Compost for Roses

fertilize roses with cow manure

Nutritional value of cow manure consists of 3% of nitrogen, 2% of phosphorus and 1% of potassium. These nutrients make it the right fertilizer for most of the plant in your garden.

However, fresh cow dung consists of ammonia and harmful bacteria. Also, the bad odor isn’t something you’d like to have your flowering garden.

This is why it is subjected to decomposition process.

Farmers have been using cow manure as compost, with which they bring back nutrients to the field organically.

As most gardeners have composting bin, adding cow manure to it can fasten the decomposition process and turn your kitchen scraps to black gold.

When to Feed Roses?

Applying cow manure in spring or during growing season to boost flowering.

If you want your plant to produce bigger and brighter blooms, then you should feed rose plant with balanced nutritional fertilizer.

Both organic and synthetic fertilizers can be used to boost the yield.

Organic fertilizers like cow manure are packed with essential key nutrients as mentioned above. But, compared to store bought synthetic fertilizers they take time to be released in soil.

This is why you might have to frequently apply composted cow manure for roses.

Else, you can add organic fertilizer like cattle manure and use synthetic liquid fertilizers to encourage blooming.

Nutritional requirement of rose plant differ depending on its growth stage.

We shall discuss this further in below section.

Is Cow Manure Good for Roses?

It is safe and good to use. But, you must first add fresh cow manure to compost bin, to be readily available for plant use.

Composting removes harmful ammonia gas and pathogen that can burn rose plant.

Cow manure has organic material like digested grass and grains; it improves soil aeration, water retention ability of the growing medium and helpful bacteria in it transform nutrients into readily available forms for rose plant.

Note: Whenever I say cow manure, I mean composted cow manure. Adding fresh cow dung can burn your rose plant.

Let me now list benefits of cow manure for roses.

Before you go through the list, I’d like to list 3 most important aspects of using cow manure for rose plants.

  • Nutrients (NPK and micronutrients) in cow manure can make the soil fertile.
  • Organic matter is cow manure improves soil structure, water holding capacity and aeration.
  • Helpful microorganisms that break organic matter, so that is can be easily absorbed by the rose plant.

1. Rich Source of Key Nutrients (NPK =3-2-1)

Decomposed cow manure contains 3% of nitrogen, 2% of phosphorus, 1% of potassium, and microelements like iron and carbon can be found in this natural fertilizer.

Secondary nutritional elements like magnesium, calcium and sulfur are available in it, which combine to promote healthy foliage and increased blooming.

2. Adding Cow Manure Can Improve Soil Structure

Most flowering plants including roses prefer well-drained soil.

Loam soil is best to grow rose plants. To obtain, you must mix coarse sand and garden soil with decomposed organic matter like cow manure.

It can improve soil structure, enhances drainage and increases water retention ability of your growing medium. With this you can ensure that your roses will receive the right amount of moisture and prevent overwatering or underwatering issue. Excess water or less moisture results in yellowing of leaves.

3. Enhancing Fertility of the Soil

As mentioned above, cow manure contains few helpful microorganisms that help to break down organic matter to release nutrients that are readily absorbed by roses.

Unlike synthetic fertilizers, cow manure is a slow-releasing fertilizer which ensures the plant gets continuous supply of essential nutrients.

You should also use liquid fertilizers along with cow manure to improve blooming.

4. Cow Manure Adds Organic Matter to the Soil

Organic matter not just improves soil aeration; it improves water retention ability of the soil.

It also maintains soil acidity and makes the soil fertile, as in the long run this organic matter is decomposed to add nutrients to the plant.

5. Eco-friendly and Promote Organic Gardening

Key nutrients and other microelements housed in cow manure can benefit wide range of plants from grains to fruits and vegetables.

Having a compost to decompose cow manure will allow making your own organic fertilizer at home, which isn’t just cost-effective but environmental friendly.

6. Improves Disease Resistance Ability of the Soil

Organic matter and beneficial microorganisms in cow manure are proven to improve plant’s immune system to become more resistant to certain diseases and pests.

7. Regular Use of Cow Manure Can Improve Your Overall Garden Soil

If you wish your garden to have a long-term soil improvement and enriched soil, then regularly use composted cow manure.

It doubles your yield and promotes healthy bright blossoms.

How to Use Cow Manure for Roses?

Though cow manure is packed with essential nutrients that can enhance your plant’s growth and yield, if not used properly it can burn your roses.

  • Along with helpful microorganisms, cattle manure contains pathogens and ammonia gas that can burn roses.
  • In some cases, fresh cow manure can also contain high levels of sodium. In places where there is no high rain fall, sodium builds around the plant.
  • Fresh cow manure may contain weed seeds, so you directly apply fresh animal manure to roses it may lead to weed growth.

To avoid this, you must initially compost cow manure instead of applying directly to the soil.

Composting Cow Manure to Be Used as Fertilizer for Roses

There are different ways to compost cow manure and get nutrient rich fertilizer.

  1. Hot cow manure composting
  2. Vermicomposting

Hot Cow Manure Composting

It is one of the common composting methods used by gardeners. You just need to add fresh cow manure to the compost pile.

To maintain green and brown material composition, you must add hay grass or shredded newspapers along with kitchen waste and cow manure.

You should ensure ideal temperature of 130F; this will promote growth of microorganisms that breaks material and convert them into nutrient rich fertilizers.

It may take several days to obtain composted cow manure, as you have little control over this.

Regularly, you must mix the compost to balance the dry and wet material in the pile.

In normal cases it may take 6 months to make composted cow manure. Instead, you can try vermicomposting or worm casting method.

Vermicomposting of Cow Manure

Worm casting is a method of converting organic matter into natural fertilizer using earth worms.

The process is simple, use Eisenia foetida red wiggler to break cattle dung into black gold.

You can add kitchen waste and plant waste along with cow manure to obtain nutrient rich vermicompost.

  • You should maintain temperature between 55-77F.
  • Obtained compost is free from odor and the soil amendment is a source of rich nutrient for rose plants.
  • You can carry out vermicomposting of cow manure year round.
  • It is one of the effective ways to compost during winter months.

Depending on number red wigglers and cow dung, it may take few months to obtain nutrient rich black gold.

How to Apply Cow Manure to Rose Plant?

Depending on the plant’s growth stage, you can add composted cow manure to roses.

Young Rose Plants

  1. Add decomposed cow manure to the rose plant hole. This will give initial boost to the young rose plant.
  2. You can also add some cow manure around the plant, so that nutrients are released and absorbed slowly with regular watering.
  3. Fertilize young rose plant after every 4 weeks.

Established Rose Plants

For established rose plants, you can add composted cow manure around the rose plant for every 2- 4 weeks.

Roses need to be fertilized in the spring and in late summer to promote blooming.

Slow-releasing fertilizer like cow manure though doesn’t have immediate impact on plant growth. This ensures the plant gets continuous nutrients supply.

Check this: Are Coffee Grounds Good for Rose Bushes?

Fertilizing Container Roses

Fertilizing process of rose plants grown in pots or containers is identical to garden, but as regular watering leach out nutrients from the soil you should apply cow manure more often.

Advantages of using cow manure

  • Adding cow manure significantly improves soil structure and aeration.
  • It makes the soil fertile.
  • Organic matter in cow manure enhances water retention ability of the garden soil.
  • With cow manure you can try anaerobic digestion that results in biogas, liquid fertilizer and other small residues.

Disadvantages of using cow manure

It is time consuming.

Apart from this, you need to have large quantity of cow dung to be composted.

I think as a gardener, these things can be ignored when your garden is getting nutrient rich black soil amendment.

What can I use instead of cow manure?

Instead of cow manure you can use horse manure, chicken manure and mushroom compost.

Like cow manure these too needed to be composed before adding to roses.

If you don’t want to use animal manure, then you can just compost kitchen scraps to compost bin or worm casting to get nutrient rich fertilizer.

Fish emulsion and bone meal can also be used to fertilize roses.

Is cow manure compost acidic?

Though fresh cow manure is slightly acidic, after decomposition cow manure is neutral.

During the composting process, when the microorganism break organic materials it leads to the release of organic acids, which initially lowers compost pH. But, as the compost matures pH rises and stabilizes as neutral.

Important Tips While Fertilizing Roses

  • Roses need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to have healthy growth. Use cow manure or balanced fertilizer that has equal amounts of NPK value.
  • Best time to fertilize roses is the spring and in late summer. Supplying nutrients during growing season ensures the plant produce bright and beautiful blossoms.
  • Ensure regular watering and the garden soil should be able to drain well and retain requires moisture.
  • Don’t fertilize roses too much, over-fertilization burn plants.
  • Applying composted cow manure helps to retain moisture and avoid weed growth around the plant.
  • Fertilize roses according to its growth stage.

Must Read: How Big Do Hibiscus Plants Get?


Using cow manure to fertilize roses is good idea, but you should decompose this cattle manure before applying it the plant.

Cow manure is packed with key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Apart from this, it also includes iron, calcium, magnesium and other micronutrients which promote overall growth of roses.

Composed cow manure is free from odour and can be used to fertilize your ornamental plants.

Apart from nutrients, cow manure has organic matter and microorganisms that break organic material to be easily absorbed by plant roots.

I personally prefer vermicomposting cow manure to fertilize your roses and other ornamental plants. Along with cow dung you can use kitchen scraps and shredded newspaper.