Preventing Common Rose Diseases

Preventing common rose diseases. Treatment of rose bush diseases. Rose plant diseases in Florida. Downy mildew, powdery mildew on roses, rose rust disease, black spot rose bush disease, rose rosette disease.

Iceberg rose standards underplanted with lavender.

Iceberg rose standards underplanted with Provence lavender.

What is a Disease Resistant Rose?

This is not an arbitrary label given to roses for the purpose of marketing them but a distinction that is only bestowed upon roses that have undergone years of trials in test gardens in the countries in which they were hybridized.

But the most disease resistant rose is not completely immune to the common rose plant diseases, it has simply demonstrated that it will not fall victim to them under normal circumstances.

There will always be those instances in which the weather favors the development of disease. Or the rose is planted in the wrong location. Or underfed. Or good sanitation is not practiced and garden debris is left to overwinter, disease spores and all.

Because nature is somewhat unpredictable, even the toughest rose bush will occasionally become infected.

Rose Diseases Treatment

Liquid sprays are applied to both leaf surfaces and to the stems. The soil beneath the plants can be sprayed as well to prevent disease spores from growing there.

These sprays can be organic or chemical. Homemade or proprietary. The neem based organic rose disease control sprays work well. Even a homemade spray will sometimes control a very mild case of black spot or mildew.

In addition to liquid sprays, there are aerosol sprays but--unless your collection is very small--these are expensive.

Systemic chemicals are the most effective. These are usually sold in liquid form, diluted in water and used to drench the soil. Some systemic fungicides are granular.

The rose bushes take the product up from the root. It spreads through the plant's top growth and you don't have to worry about missing spots.

I prefer the systemic products despite my strong leaning toward organic controls. A soil drench is neater than a spray and I feel less exposed to the product. As an asthmatic, I prefer not to risk inhaling chemicals that have been sprayed into the air.

Even though the neem based sprays are harmless to humans and animals, neem is not a pleasant smelling substance. I prefer not to get it on my skin or clothing.

Finally, there are dusts which can be applied to rose bushes but these are difficult to apply evenly and too likely to become airborne for my taste.

Spray only when there is no wind and the sun is not shining directly on the plants. Wear protective clothing and launder it before you wear it again.

Always read and follow the directions on the container. Keep all garden chemicals away from children and pets.

Preventing Rose Diseases

  • Plant disease resistant roses. Unless you are growing roses for the show table, there is no reason to plant disease prone rose bushes.
  • Enrich the soil with compost before planting. This will promote vigorous growth which can often outrun rose disease.
  • Avoid crowding the plants in the bed. This will allow air to circulate freely around the foliage.
  • Do not allow dead wood to remain on the bushes. Prune it away as soon as you notice it.
  • Keep the rose bed tidy. Remove all weeds and fallen leaves and flowers. Do not compost, but bag and dispose of them.

Disease symptoms will usually appear in midsummer. A touch of black spot disease on a vigorous rose which is not usually bothered by it can be left untreated. Just watch the plant to make sure the problem does not get out of hand.

If the rose bush begins to lose many leaves, spray it. Roses eat not only through their roots but through their leaves. Defoliation can kill a rose.

Identifying Rose Bush Diseases

Identifying diseases on rose bushes is not hard. Each disease causes different symptoms.

These symptoms are described (with pictures where possible) on the page devoted to that particular rose disease.


Rose canker is usually caused by anthracnose fungus.

Black Spot on Roses

Black spot on roses is a fungus infection which causes black spots to appear on the rose plant's leaves. Tips on defeating rose black spot disease. How to prevent black spot fungus on roses. When to spray.

Powdery Mildew on Roses

Powdery mildew on roses appears as a white powdery mold on the leaves and buds. After contracting powdery mildew roses will drop their leaves prematurely. Take precautions to prevent rose mildew from spreading to your fruit trees.

Downy Mildew

Description and control of downy mildew on roses. Peronospora sparsa is the fungus that causes this type of rose mildew. Powdery mildew on roses is caused by Sphaerotheca pannosa.

Rust on Roses

How to treat rust on roses. Orange rose rust disease is not a common rose disease but it is serious because it is often fatal. Roses and rust prevention. Rose rust disease organic control.

Rose Rosette Disease

Rose rosette disease is a viral rose disease spread by a tiny insect. The virus is specific to roses with Rosa multiflora being its primary host. Symptoms and treatment of rose rosette disease.

Rose Diseases in Florida

White Delight rose growing at Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL.

White Delight rose growing at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL.

Florida summers are long, hot, and rainy. Florida soil is mostly sand. Many types of roses find this a difficult combination to cope with.

Many others take it in their stride.

The key to growing healthy roses in the sunshine state is planting the right varieties into soil that has had copious amounts of compost or manure dug into it.

Antique or heritage roses, especially the China roses, do well here. These are usually grown on their own roots.

Other types of roses perform best if they are grafted onto Rosa fortuniana or Dr. Huey rootstock with fortuniana being preferred.

Roses grafted onto other rootstocks will grow in Florida, they just may not live for as many years as they would if they were growing on a more suitable rootstock.

Organic Rose Gardening
Organic rose gardening tips to help you grow organic roses that bloom abundantly and resist disease. Growing roses organically is no more difficult than conventional rose gardening. Organic rose growing secrets revealed.

Planting Roses
Planting roses in your garden is a planting guide for roses of all types. Easy tips for planting rose bushes, planting climbing roses, planting hybrid tea roses and planting miniature roses.

Watering Your Roses
Things to keep in mind when watering your roses. Rose watering tips for watering roses in every season. How to water rose bushes properly. Watering rose plants that are in pots. Drip irrigation and soaker hoses.

Lavender Roses
Lavender roses are often called blue colored roses. When describing roses lavender is the more accurate term. Best lavender rose varieties including climbing and miniature rose shrubs.

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Disease Resistant Roses

Red Double Knock Out® Rose Shrub
Champlain Rose Shrub
Easy Elegance® Screaming Neon Rose
Hansa Hybrid Rugosa Rose