The Q&A Archives: What could be causing my rose bushes to drop their branches?

Question: I live in Nevada. I have 12 rose bushes which were inherited in September, when we moved here. I pruned the bushes in January as recommended here in Nevada. I have applied NEEM spray and systemic insecticides, and rose fertilizer as recommended. The insecticides were applied to ward off the aphids. Now I am losing branches daily. They break off at the trunk. I cannot detect any bugs. It looks like the break is

Answer: The pruning and fertilizing you did is correct, although I wouldn't recommend the insecticides to ward off aphids. They don't tend to be that big of a problem and can be controlled by forceful blasts of water from the hose. Also, ladybugs, birds and other beneficials will be attracted to your yard to make a meal of them. As for the branches, how are you watering the plant? Water should be applied deeply and as infrequently as possible, soaking to a depth of 2 feet and not being applied again until the top 2 inches or so of soil dry out. If the roses are on a drip irrigation system, it may need to run for several hours or more, depending on how many emitters and the gallons of water per hour that they put out. Nor should the soil be kept wet at all times. A thick layer of compost can help maintain consistent soil moisture, which is essential for healthy roses. Finally, I suggest you take a sample of the broken branches to your County Cooperative Extension office, 2345 Red Rock St, Las Vegas, 702-223-3130. If there is a disease or insect problem, they can diagnose it. Good luck!

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