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Basic Rose Gardening Tips

By: H. Iacobacci-Miller

It may be hard to believe, but summer officially starts June 21st. With your gardens and flowerbeds in order, it's time for maintenance, which usually includes keeping pests away from your plants, especially your prized roses.

I must confess, I am a rose lover, but sometimes the up-keep can seem like an impossible feat. Each rose comes with it's own unique beauty and problems. Too keep your roses in top shape, it's important to know the various problems that can wreak havoc and how to prevent future damage.

Black spots on leaves
Black Spot
Circular black spots with fringed edges on leaves. Initially may appear as yellowish spots.
Causes leaves to yellow. Lower leaves are affected first.
Remove infected leaves and pick up any leaves around rose. For roses already infected, spray Manzate or Mancozeb every 3 days for 3 intervals. For future prevention, spray with Funginex every 7 - 10 days.
Young canes are stunted and malformed. Powdery Mildew Fungal disease covering leaves, buds and stems with white powder spread by wind. Leaves curl and turn purple. Spray Benomyl or Funginex every seven to 10 days.
Underside of leaves have "blisters" or orange spots Rust Orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. Attacks new growth in spring. Is able to survive winter. Collect and discard infected leaves in fall. Spray Benomyl or Funginex every seven to 10 days.
Stunted or malformed foliage and blooms. Aphids Small soft-bodied green, brown or red insect clustered under leaves and flower buds Suck plant juices from tender new grown and buds. Spray with malathion or diazinon.
Mottled and weak leaves. Tiny white webs under leaves. Spider mites Tiny, green, red or yellow spiders on the underside of leaves. Suck juices from leaves. Apply Isotox or Orthene.
Flowers don't open or they open deformed. petals are flecked with brown. Thrips Slender, brown-yellow insects with fringed wings nesting in flower buds. Suck juices from flower buds. Cut and discard infested flowers. Apply malathion or Orthene in spring before buds have developed.
Canes are hollow or appear to be rotting. Cane-borers Insect and larvae difficult to spot as they live inside the rose cane. Check canes for external damage. Bore into cane and lay eggs. Larvae eat their way down through the cane. Cut cane off below the infection. Or prune back to expose wood. Seal wounds and entry points with nail polish, glue or prune compound.

Tips for Treatment Applications:

  • Spray or dust with fungicide every seven to 10 days throughout the growing season
  • Dust in the evening, or when wind is absent
  • Spray both the upper and lower surfaces of leaves with a fine mist
  • Apply pesticides early in the day to prevent the foliage from burning in high temperatures
  • Follow manufacturer's instructions
  • As a note, from my experience bi-weekly spraying tends to keep most of the listed ailments under control. Prevention seems to be the key when trying to care for roses.

For me, Cane-boreres and black spots have been the most difficult rose ailments to control. Some roses seem to be much more resistant than others, so if you love roses, but not the work, try purchasing some of the easier to care for roses. Here is a list of just a few:

Rugosa Roses - for the most part tend to be free of black spot, rust and powdery mildew

  • R. rugosa - white, pink or pinkish-red with a light, sweet scent
  • Blanc Double de Coubert - sweet-smelling, semi-double white flowers
  • Fru Dagmar Hastrup - large single pink flowers, compact
  • Hansa - large, fragrant, double, purplish-pink flowers
  • F.J. Grootendorst - Ruffle-petaled double red flowers resemble carnations and have slight fragrance
  • Fimbriata - pale pink, strong fragrance.

Shrub Roses

  • Carefree Wonder - Lighter reverse, pink blend, cupped, double blooms, mild fragrance
  • Martha's Vineyard - Deep pink, double, small bloom
  • Augusta - Apricot & apricot blend blooms, mild fragrance
  • The Fairy - clustered, pale pink, double flower blooms
  • Lady of the Dawn - Light pink, large, semi-double bloom blooms, apple fragrance.

Miniature Roses

  • Minnie Pearl - pink blooms, mild fragrance
  • Jean Lajoie - Medium pink blooms with a dense petal count, mild fragrance
  • Hot Tamale - Yellow/red blooms with a 26 - 40 petal count
  • Black Jade - Deep red, dense petal count
  • Snow Bride - white/cream blooms, mild fragrance

For more detailed information on various roses, check out Michigan Bulb Co. or