Incurable Mutant Rose Disease Could Threaten Your Plants

rose-rosette-diseaseSince I spent some time talking about how to add roses to your landscape I thought I’d also take a moment to tell you about an incurable rose disease that is spreading across the United States. It is called rose rosette disease, and it is pretty nasty.

Rose rosette attacks the rose’s very RNA. The results are a series of ugly, fatal mutations that are pretty hard to miss.

Symptoms of Rose Rosette Disease

If your roses start looking like something out of a horror flick you may have a case of rose rosette disease on your hands. Symptoms include:

  • An overabundance of thorns on your roses.
  • Twisted up leaves or leaves that are stunted.
  • Bizarre coloration on roses, stems, and leaves: usually an angry red.
  • “Witches brooms” on your roses.
  • A series of small, bright red shoots.
  • Weak, brittle canes.
  • Small, stunted buds that are malformed.

Here’s a really short video that will give you an idea of what this looks like:

If you start seeing these symptoms your roses will be dead in 2-5 years. There is no cure.

How Does Rose Rosette Disease Spread?

The disease is typically spread by a very tiny mite called the eriophyid mite. The danger is greatest between the months of May and July, when the mite is most active. Fortunately we’ve just passed the danger time, but you might start seeing symptoms in a few weeks if you were unlucky enough to get an end-of season mite attack.

And some of our readers might already be seeing the symptoms, wondering just what has happened to their beautiful roses.

What to Do if You Have an Infected Plant

It’s best to remove the affected plant completely. You’ll then want to make sure that you keep any future rose plants away from the trouble spot.

In the future, you can try to control the mite itself with a good insecticide or organic mite control product.

Unfortunately, buying a disease-resistant rose won’t help here. There isn’t a single variety of rose that is immune to this disease.

If you are interested in learning more about rose rosette disease, try this webinar on the Today’s Garden Center website.

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