Any gardener who has grown roses knows that sooner or later you are going to encounter a problem or two. But growing roses isn't as difficult as you might have heard. Choosing the right type of rose and giving it the care that it needs are common sense approaches to carefree plants. Planting your roses in combination with other plants, rather than in an exclusively rose garden, can further cut down on problems. However we are often drawn to the beautiful prima donas in the rose world and these will require more attention. The best remedy for rose problems is a good defense.
Prevent Rose Problems Before They Occur
- Choose Resistant Varieties: Where you are gardening plays an important role in which roses you should be growing. Humid areas will always be prone to mildew. Hot, dry climates need roses that can withstand a little drought. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for a list of disease resistant varieties for your area.
- Keep Them Healthy & Vigorous: Pests are bullies and they will pick on the weakest plants first. Unless youre growing roses to compete, rose bushes arent nearly as fussy as you may have been led to believe.
- Keep your roses watered and fed.
- Dont over do the nitrogen. Lots of tender new growth attracts aphids.
- Prune to allow air circulation, particularly in humid climates.
- Stop pruning at least 6 weeks before expected frost, so new growth is not damaged by the cold.
- Mulch around rose plant roots to prevent soil born diseases from splashing onto leaves
- Clean up Fallen Debris and Dead and Diseased Plant Parts: Good sanitation can foil a lot of problems.
- A mildewed leaf that falls and remains on the ground will send spores to the rest of the plant.
- Fallen leaves can provide a safe haven for insects and diseases to over-winter and re-infest the plant next season.
- A damaged or dead branch is an inviting entry point for many pests.
- Learn Which Insects are Problems and Encourage the Good Guys: Random spraying of insecticides does more harm than good. There will always be more trips flying in or more aphids being born. Encourage the insects that feed on these pests. And dont panic at the first sign of a pest. If there are no pests, there will be no reason for the beneficial insects to take up residence in your garden. There needs to be a balance in your garden.
- Lady beetles are renowned aphid eaters.
- Green Lacewings eat aphids, mites, thrips and many insect eggs.
- Predatory Mites feed on thrips and spider mites
- Parasitic Wasps attack caterpillars
Unfortunately there doesnt appear to be an insect predator for Japanese Beetles. Pesticides arent particularly effective against adult beetles and hand picking is your best option.
- Avoid Annual Diseases with a Preventative Spray: Even during years of drought, humid climates can expect some Black Spot on roses. A dormant spray of a fungicide applied after pruning will help greatly in offsetting the problem. A rose fungicide containing either lime or copper is a good low toxic choice.
If your roses do start developing problems, check out Dealing with Rose Diseases.