How to Control Rust on Roses

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Roses are the most popular flower in the world, in spite of all the blights, diseases and fungus that plague them. Rust is a fungal disease common to roses in many climates. It appears on the underside of the foliage as orange or yellow spots.

Things You'll Need

  • Dormant Oil
  • Spray Bottles
  • Bordeaux Mixture
  • Garden Hoses
  • Garden Shears
  • Shrub Rakes
  • Baking Soda
  • Sulfur Powder
  • Look for rust on the undersides of the foliage. It resembles patches of rust-colored velvet.

  • Rake up and dispose of all fallen leaves and debris from under the plant. Rust spores are carried by water splashing back up onto the stems and leaves. (Removing the source of the problem should always be your first step.)

  • Water roses at the base of the plant instead of overhead.

  • Water in the early morning hours to give the plants time to dry out during the daylight hours.

  • Provide air circulation by pruning and thinning the plant. (See How to Prune Roses.)

  • Avoid planting annuals or other type plants under roses; this will provide maximum air circulation.

  • Remove and destroy infested foliage.

  • Dust plants with sulfur powder every one to two weeks, starting when foliage begins to develop in the early spring and continuing throughout the growing season. The sulfur won't kill the rust, but it will prevent the next generation from germinating.

  • Spray with a solution of 1 tsp. baking soda in 1 qt. water to fight rust.

  • Spray roses with a dormant oil or Bordeaux mixture when plants are dormant (usually in winter).

Tips & Warnings

  • Rust is more unsightly than terminal for most rose plants.
  • Rust is very difficult to eliminate once it appears. Prevention is the best form of defense.
  • Spray organic fungicides early in the day for best results.
  • Chemical fungicides are available for the control of rust. Always use the least toxic method of pest control first.
  • If you choose to use a chemical fungicide, always wear protective clothing and safety gear, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, neoprene gloves, goggles and a respirator.

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