Rose Pests

Easy To Control and Manage!

To keep our roses healthy we need to control rose pests. To do this most effectively we need a simple rose pest management program. We will try to help you do this for no-one wants rose pests to damage their beautiful rose garden, do they?

The first step is to identify the problem. This means keeping a simple record of what pests are enjoying your roses with you!

Make a list and then try to find out a little about the particular creature.

Finding all you can about the problem will lead you to several possible responses, hopefully one that is non-toxic.

To simplify all that:

  1. Identify the rose "pests"
  2. Learn a little about their life cycle
  3. Find a non-toxic response

We can help you do all these things, but first there is a even earlier step:

(before #1...)Prevent the pests in the first place!

Most literature on gardening will tell you that if the plant is healthy it is less likely to suffer the attack of rose pests. If you keep your plants healthy and vigorous, use organic fertilizer, water well and have planted them in good soil in a suitable location the incidents of rose pests and disease will be minimal.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take out the the weak plants that struggle to survive, attract the pests and infect others. Plant good disease resistant plants in the first place!
  2. Clean up the beds on a regular basis. This removes decaying diseased leaves that pests love and stops the unwanted from over wintering. Remember to put a good 2 inch plus mulch down in the spring to keep the weeds from growing.
  3. Fertilize regularly. A good organic fertilizer well mixed into the soil in spring, plus a good soluble fertilizer every two weeks should keep your bushes healthy and strong enough to resist.
  4. Set up a good watering system, one that waters from below, preferably in the morning, so that leaves and stems can dry. This retards the diseases and pests, and promotes a healthy strong rose bush.

Controlling rose pests includes cultural, biological and physical controls. These should all be organic but if they are not working, your last ditch effort will have to be non-toxic chemical.

Cultural controls are those we just listed: making your garden healthy and less hospitable to pests. Don't invite them in!

Biological controls interfere with a pest's life cycle or behavior, such as washing off aphid mothers before they give birth.

Physical controls are those that you impose such as cups of beer to catch slugs or picking off green caterpillars with your fingers.

Let's have a look at the more common rose pests:


This could be a subject all it's own, as so much has been written about it. These are tiny little green (sometimes brown or black)soft bodied insects that will cover your stems and newly formed buds very quickly, and suck away at the sap. Usually found in early spring or late summer, they can multiply every twenty minutes or produce about 72 new babies every 24 hours, so walking the garden every few days to watch for these tiny little creatures is worth the time. Fortunately they are fairly easy to control. Ladybugs and other insects love to eat them so encourage these other bugs such as lacewings, and Aphids are easily washed away with a jet of water from the hose. Squishing between the fingers is also easy if you get them early in the season before they multiply and you wear some gloves! There are several chemicals on the market that will help you out. Orthene and Malathion are two chemicals and Safer Soap is a non toxic choice.

Spider Mites

These tiny little black bugs (like a very tiny spider) live underneath the leaves and cause them to dry up and fall away in hot weather. This is often the cause of mid-summer leaf fall. Luckily they don't like water very much so spraying the underside of the leaves with a jet of water will do the trick. Again, like aphids, a good leaf washing with soapy water also helps. If they are still a problem try one part Ammonia to seven parts water as a leaf spray. Two commercial products that have been known to work are Orange Guard and Avid. The second is the most effective and least toxic.


These a very tiny black insects found between the petals of the bloom. They tend to cause the browning of the edges of the petals. Soap spray is good (one tablespoon of dish-washing liquid to one gallon of water) as is the ammonia spray listed above, but Thrips are a special case because they invade the petals, so you have to be careful not to damage the buds and blooms as you spray. Morning sprays are best so as the warmth of the day will dry out the blooms petals. Chemical controls include Cygon (which is very toxic), Orthene and Avid. New to the market is Neem Oil, a product of the Indian Neem Tree. It comes in a spray and works slowly as it adheres to the leaves and petals. Good for protection against aphids, Thrips and Japanese Beetles, but does not provide total control. Spray early morning and you avoid killing the beneficial bugs like ladybirds.

Green Worms or Caterpillars

These are easy to spot unless they have rolled themselves up inside a leaf. The best thing is to pick them off or remove the actual leaves where they live. Make sure the ground beneath is cleaned up and does not provide a home to the caterpillar family.Ammonia spray will help. Orthene and Thuricide are two chemical controls. Please remember that when you use chemical sprays, always wear gloves, use eye protection and read the label TWICE! I did say TWICE! Don't spray in a wind and early morning is best. Did I say this before: follow the directions carefully and wash up your spray bottles very carefully afterwords. If there is a non-toxic solution, please use it. Oh yes, read the labels TWICE! Keep a watchful eye on your roses for these rose pests, some walk their garden beds daily! Develop a simple management plan, but above all else, cultivate healthy vigorous plants and clean healthy beds. And a last plea: please choose non-toxic remedies first! Rose Pests can be controlled with a simple plan and a regular inspection of your rose beds.
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