Keeping Your Roses Healthy

Last updated on January 12th, 2023 at 03:54 pm

Keeping your roses healthy.  As most of us know roses have beautiful flowers and look gorgeous in almost any type of setting or landscape.  But they are somewhat of a challenge to grow especially around the American Southwest where rain is low, and the air is dry.

A little history of roses

Roses were grown abundantly in Central Asia. The Persians and Egyptians, who later developed a cultivated variety, discovered wild roses.

Roses will typically live about 35 years but can live longer if they are cared for correctly throughout their lifetime.

The cold tolerance of most hybrid roses is about 10° degrees Fahrenheit and down to -20° for true unhybridized roses.

How did roses come to America?  According to PDF read their findings below.

When New England settlers came to North America they found the native roses appealing and sent Rosa virginiana to England in 1725. The settlers also brought slips and cuttings of their favorite Old Garden Roses. Varieties such as Damask, Alba, Gallica, Centifolia and Sweetbriar roses were planted as a reminder of home.  Read more here.

What do Roses Need?

The number one thing they need is TLC (tender loving care).  Roses love good loamy soil and planting them in caliche, sandy, or silt soil and your roses will have a challenging time growing.  Always use good composted loamy soil when planting roses.  Roses also need a good amount of mulch as this will help with water retention and insect control and a good landscaping look.

Keeping Your Roses Healthy

Observing your roses should be done often, especially if you live in regions where drought conditions are the norm.  Roses need water consistently and installing a drip system is best to ensure you are watering according to your garden zone region.  Daily watering when first planted.  Every other day after they have been well established, usually about the third year. It is important to note that too much water is just as bad as not enough water best make sure you have good drainage.

Insects love the new foliage and stem of roses. Spraying with a good chemical insecticide is advisable, and for those who want to go organic use neem oil or use insecticidal soaps.  Yes, they both work but you will have to spray more often.

Shiny leaves with tiny white webs under them.  This is caused by aphids. They are small soft-bodied insects that are brown, green, or red.  They often cluster under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds.  A spray insecticide will kill these pests.  Malathion or diazinon spray is a stronger chemical type of solution.

Keeping your roses strong, healthy and insect-free is the best deterrent to good-looking plants throughout the growing seasons.

Keeping Your Roses Healthy
Green aphids on rosebud and stems. Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

Red roses are the most common.

Everyone loves red roses, and they are the most common. These include English roses, climbing roses, shrub roses, outstanding hybrid tea roses, and rose bushes. However, most people know red rose bushes and shrubs are prone to diseases.

Keeping Your Roses Healthy
Red Roses


How to grow beautiful roses
English Roses
Knock Out Roses
Knock Out Roses do well in hot weather climates.


Observe your Roses often

Keeping Your Roses Healthy means you should observe them often. The best deterrent to healthy roses is to observe them on a regular basis.  Fertilize often and never water above the plant.  How often? About once per month starting in early spring and stopping in late fall.  At the first sign of trouble act ASAP.  Deep watering is more beneficial than light daily watering.

Fertilize with a good Rose food fertilizer.  This should be done once in early spring, mid-summer, and again in autumn.  Too much fertilizer can do more harm than good, they will start to turn deep brown or black on the edges of the foliage

Trim back roses in mid-February.  Trim back old dried-up stems and the tips of branches that are not viable.

When to prune roses

You should prune roses in mid-February.  They should be pruned about a quarter of the way down.  Always prune about 1/4” above an outward-facing bud right about where the leaf would meet the stem. Try to prune at about a 45-degree angle.  Cut off dead stems and branches to encourage new growth.

Black Spots on Leaves

Black Spot on a rose leaf. Photo courtesy of

This disease is commonly known as black spot. Black spots appear as circular with fringed edges on leaves. They cause the leaves to be yellow. Remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose.  Make sure to place trimmed foliage in a plastic container and dispose of it in the trash bin.  Clean pruning tools with alcohol or 1 tbls. of Clorox into 1 ga. container.

A fungicide spray should be used to prevent and or treat this kind of rose disease.  A copper fungicide will also work wonders with Roses that are infected with any type of fungus.

White powder on rose leaves

Known as powdery mildew (podosphaera pannosa) this is a fungal disease that covers leaves, stems, and buds spread by humans touching an infected plant and then handling another plant.  Insects will basically do the same thing.  It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Fungicide to treat this fungal disease.  Always clean your pruning tools after trimming roses to prevent spreading to other plants that need pruning.

Roses do best in the morning sun and afternoon shade, but too much shade and water will make roses susceptible to powdery mildew.  Avoid overhead watering, this means making sure your lawn watering does not spray into the rose foliage.

If your roses do develop powdery mildew, it is best to spray with a plant fungicide after trimming your roses back during the winter seasons.

Powdery mildew (podosphaera pannosa) on roses in a garden, fungal disease on rose leaf, UK

The blistered underside of leaves

How to grow beautiful roses
Rust on new rose leaves. Photo courtesy of

The blistered underside of rose leaves is also known as rust, this disease is known by the orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. It can survive the winter and will then attack new sprouts in the spring. Trim off then collect and discard leaves that are infected in the fall.  Spraying with a shrub fungicide or a Copper fungicide spray every 7-10 days will help. Eventually, this will disappear, you must be consistent with your spraying. You will need to spray numerous times before this fungus is gone.

Small Stunted leaves surrounded by webbing

Keeping Your Roses Healthy
Spider mite colony, Tetranychus. Rose leaf covered with a microscopic web of spider mite colony.


Spider mites are a big problem for roses.  These small insects thrive in hot dry conditions and will produce pale brown webbing around the foliage and stems. A good systemic insecticide (in-ground) will kill these insects.  Spraying with a chemical insecticide will also do the trick.  Insecticidal soaps are a suitable alternative to chemicals.

Flowers that don’t open

Sometimes the flower pods will not open.  The main reason is thrips, these insects are thin active insects that are hard to see to the naked eye.  They feed on the sap inside the flower pods. Cutting and opening one of the pods and looking closely you will see them slithering around.

They are slender, brown-yellowish bugs with fringed wings that also suck juices from flower buds. The best thing to do is to apply a systemic insecticide into the ground around the base of the plant.  Cutting off the infected pod and disposing of it into a plastic bag is recommended.

It’s important to use masks and good gloves before spraying your roses with any type of harsh chemicals. As stated earlier, roses love to be fed on a consistent basis always use a good Rose food fertilizer for better results.

Organic Insecticides and Fungicides

Organic insecticides are now becoming popular.  Below is a list of organic pesticide solutions.

Neem Oil – The best solution to harsher type insecticide chemicals.

Orange Citrus Oil – Effective but should be sprayed more often.

Eucalyptus Oil – From the Eucalyptus tree leaves.  It repels some flying insects.

Garlic Spray – The best repellent to keeping insects away from your roses.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder – Only kills ground crawling crustacean-type insects.

Insecticidal Soap sprays – I really like this type of organic insect killer.  The Safer-Brand will kill aphids, mealy bugs, whiteflies, and other insects.  It will not kill beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantis.   Safer Soap kills insects by using potassium salts of fatty acids to weaken the insect’s waxy protective outer shell.

Keeping Your Roses Healthy


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