University experts refer to it as a “viral-like” pathogen. They also say that it is transmitted by a small mite. Most importantly, they say that the disease has no cure and that infected roses should be removed and destroyed. Here’s advice that shows up on several websites:
There is no cure for rose plants that exhibit symptoms of rose rosette disease. Infected or symptomatic plants must be dug up, including the roots, and disposed of immediately. If possible, eliminate all multiflora rose plants from the vicinity. Pretty ominous, wouldn’t you say?
The most common symptom of rose rosette is “witches’ broom” which is stubby, soft stems with elongated leaflets and stems with deformed, crinkled and brittle leaves that are usually brown or red with yellow mosaics and red pigmentation. Stems may show black blotches. The look resembles herbicide damage such as caused by glyphosate (Roundup) or 2, 4-D, or serious nutritional deficiency.
This disease has been seen especially on the ubiquitous “Knockout” roses but will attack most other kinds of roses as well. Other symptoms are thickened, succulent stems and a proliferation of thorns. As with most plant illnesses, this disease causes the plant to be more susceptible to freeze damage and excessive heat.
University scientists and all the websites I have found on the subject contend strongly there is “no cure.” Gardeners are advised to remove the entire bush, including its roots. The disease, scientists say, can persist in root pieces left behind from the diseased rose. Obeying the recommendation, some of the local extension agents have removed their plan.
I’m never one to agree that any insect or disease problem has no cure. When I’m challenged, I like to at least try to come up with a solution. My hunch was that non-organic gardeners would have this disease on their roses more than true organic gardeners. That’s why I was surprised when a listener and organic gardener called me about her climbing roses having the disease. Here is what I suggested and her story.
Joanne Brown from McKinney, Texas called my Sunday show and told me about her problem, and it was evident from her description that the problem was indeed Rose Rosette. She said she had been advised to remove the plants.
Here was my answer:
There is certainly a different route I would try before taking this give-up approach. I don’t recommend taking the plants out before trimming the damaged growth out and at least trying the Sick Tree Treatment, just as we would for diseased trees. Cut away the diseased stems and clean the tool blades immediately using hydrogen peroxide (never bleach). The Sick Tree Treatment should be applied throughout all the rose beds.
Next, choose one of the following spray formulas:
- To 1 gallon of spray with Garrett Juice Plus add 8 ounces of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (available at drug and grocery stores).
- To Garrett Juice Plus spray add 2 ounces of orange oil.
- To Garrett JuicePlus spray add 1 tablespoon of Bio Wash. Spray the plants thoroughly.
I also asked her to send photos. She basically used a mix of all additional amendments. This is a close up shot of the infected bush after pruning, treatment and healthy regrowth.
If you have any questions on this newsletter or any other topic, tune in Sunday 8am -11am (CST) to the Dirt Doctor Radio Show. The phone number for the show is 1-866-444-3478. Listen on the internet or find a station in your area.