Problems with Roses and Disease

Roses are such a joy to have in a garden and produce an abundance of gorgeous flowering fragrant blooms each season. But they sure are a nuisance to care for…

We planted Drift Roses in our garden a couple years back. Drift Roses are a smaller version of Knockout Roses and usually only grow two of three feet wide and a couple feet tall at most.

They are also supposed to have a better disease resistance than some other rose varieties. But I am really struggling with my Drift Roses this year. A few weeks back, I wrote about The Best Time to Deadhead Drift Roses to Encourage Repeat Blooming. Our roses were beginning to re bloom after the first wave and I was optimistic for their continued success…but things have gone downhill and I haven’t seen the abundance of repeat blooms I normally do 🙁

The Three Most Common Diseases for Roses

Roses are prone to three types of disease; Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, and Rust.

Rose diseaseMy Drift Roses have picked up some sort of disease that is leaving spots and holes on the leaves.

Rose disease-5I haven’t been fully able to identify the problem or disease. It doesn’t look like black spot, because well the spots aren’t black.

Rose disease-4It also doesn’t look like powdery mildew, which is a fungus and produces a white powdery substance on the leaves, stems or buds.

Rose disease-3I don’t think it’s Rust, which causes orange spots on stems and leaves.

Rose disease-6I’m not able to quite identify the disease or the type of fungus. I’m hoping you can help me figure what’s going on with my roses. Another thought I had – maybe some form of bug or caterpillar has attacked the bushes?

My overall hunch is that the holes are caused by some type of fungus. We had a rather chilly Spring with a fair amount of rain. It didn’t get really hot until mid to late June and it is very humid in our region.

Rose disease-12I am thinking that since these roses are so low to the ground, perhaps the moisture and draining of the plant beds has not be sufficient?

Rose disease-11We are having heavy thunderstorms too during these very hot months and over watering can increase the chance of disease and produce spots on the leaves.

Rose disease-9I have also noticed the blooms are not as abundant as last year  – is this because the plants are diseased? I don’t know.

What to do If Your Roses Get a Disease

My first plan of attack is to cut off the leaves with spots and holes. It’s important to remove the diseased leaves and branches to keep the fungus from spreading to the rest of the plant. It’s also important to disinfect the shears you use to prune the stems so as not to spread the disease. I purchased these shears years back and love them! I use them for everything..arranging flowers in a vase, pruning roses, and bringing blooms indoors.

Then I will spray the roses with this oil that I purchased to protect my sensitive boxwoods during the winter months. The oil will not cure the disease will help treat insects.

Next, I am going to spray a systemic product to control insects, disease, and fertilize the rose bushes. I have never used a three in one product like this, as it was not needed but desperate times call for desperate measures!

I will report back to you if it works but in the meantime if you know what could be causing these issues, please drop me a line.

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18 thoughts on “Problems with Roses and Disease

  1. Oh that’s too bad! They’re so pretty! We get a lot of black spot on our roses, but my husband has been diligently clipping off the diseased leaves, and we have been seeing an improvement. I hope you figure it out and find a good treatment for yours! 💗

    1. Hi Barbara, that may just be the best solution, seems to have worked for you. I’ll try a fungicide and see if that works too. Thanks for the suggestion

  2. Very helpful Denise. We are also having the same problem. We went to Merrifield to the plant doctor & he said to cut our drift roses way back (we should have done that this winter but didn’t). We also had something eating them & Gene though it might be japanese beetles. But he used the Rose & Flower Care product that you talked about & they are getting new growth. He has used the Rose product for many years now. He has not used the oil or spray for fungus. Will keep you up on our progress. I love them.

    1. Hi Donna, seems to be a wide spread problem around here. I cut mine way back in Winter and they looked great for a while but not so much lately. Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll let you know if the fungicide works!

  3. Hi Denise. Couple of comments. Roses are sensitive to water and I believe that you have an irrigation system. We have had quite a bit of rain so you might want to consider really cutting the water on those zones back, ALOT. Your irrigation company can do that zone specific so that it does not cause turf areas, for example, to dry out. Also be sure that any watering that is being done is done very early in the morning. If you water in the heat of the day especially in full sun, the water droplets can actually scorch the leaves. And lastly, you probably have some fungal problems going on in some pretty early stages, but you definitely have Japanese beetle issues. A simple solution is to get the beetle traps. But…..monitor the traps and don’t place them right around the plants. I have definitely seen these traps fill up. If you place them right around the plants and they fill, then as new bugs come around and can’t get into the traps, the next best thing is to munch on those plants right next to the bug traps. Hope this helps.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for all the detailed information. We do not have an irrigation system and I have have been negligent in watering…so it must all from the rain we have been getting? But good point about time of day for watering, I need to remember that…when I do get around to it. I hope a fungicide works and I’ll look into traps, thanks!

  4. No advice Denise, but that 3 in 1 product looks interesting. I spray horticultural oil on my knockouts in the spring and bone meal and fertilizer and that’s it. One year something ate all the leaves on all the front bushes, (sparing the heirloom roses), but I was never able to identify it….it looked like some kind of slug/grub, but not a beetle. I tried various beetle killing products, insecticide soaps and dust, granules to sprinkle on the ground etc….nothing worked, but the next year they were fine again. It’s probably due to your wet weather. My back bushes were sparse this year due to our late cold spring with snow into May, but the front ones were lush – so who can figure it out?

    1. Interesting Joni, thank you for commenting on your experience. The 3 in 1 just arrived, going to apply tomorrow and hope for the best. But as you said, it may be something that goes away and won’t be back and will be fine next year. I’m not digging all the maintenance of these roses…may have to think of an alternative 🤔

      1. I love lavender Joni. Great idea, will have to check if it grows well in our region, thanks for the wonderful suggestion!

      2. Denise….I just posted a blog about it last week. As you are farther south than me, French lavender might work for you as it has a longer bloom time. I didn’t put that in the blog but researched it. I can only do English lavender here as it is more cold-hardy, but it only flowers for 1-2months here, although they say if you cut it back you can get a second flowering. I’ve never tried that. Lots of different types of lavender species, so there might be one that would work for you. I’ll post my blog link.

      3. Thanks Joni, I missed that post of yours, but I will definitely check it out. thank you!

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