How to Troubleshoot Rose Diseases

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Roses have earned a reputation as the temperamental divas of the plant world. It's true that the romantic rascals attract their share of illnesses -- but these are easier to conquer than you might think.

  • Be aware of the symptoms that can arise in an unhealthy rose. Sometimes buds only partially open or not at all. Outer petals can turn pale brown, dry and papery in wet weather. Buds can often develop a gray mold before rotting and dropping off. Purple-black spots can form on leaves, and later, yellow halos develop. Other times, the symptoms are in the cane of the rose, where it might appear discolored. Most of these are caused by fungi.

  • Know your fungus. Balling, botrytis blight, blackspot, canker and dieback and crown gall are the most common fungi and bacteria found in roses.

  • Remove infected buds. Sometimes, this merely means deadheading the plant (trimming the bud off), but usually experienced growers need to do this. It's much more delicate a process than deadheading an everyday plant.

  • Cut out any large growths with precision, and wash out the cuts with a one-part chlorine bleach, 10-parts water solution.

  • Remove infected roses after treatment and replace the soil before replanting.

  • Destroy virus-infected flowers and request additional buds for free from the store where they were purchased. Viruses like rose mosaic, rose rosette, rose leaf curl and rose ring pattern can cause broom-like clusters and knots and are extremely nocuous. Stores should refund you because viruses are nearly always spread by using infected material when grafting buds.

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