The Q&A Archives: Rose Trouble

Question: I have 4 climbing roses in a sunny area in my backyard. The leaves from last year have turned brown and yellow. The underside of the leaf has rust colored spots and black spots. I also noticed I have aphids. I fed them a rose food in the late fall. Help!!

Answer: The brown and yellow leaves will fall off soon, so be sure to rake them up and remove them from the garden. The rust colored spots are the fruiting spores from a disease called rust. The spores will spread to other leaves unless the disease is treated with a fungicide. The black spots are also signs of black spot disease, common in roses. My suggestion is to prune out the infected canes, stems and leaves and remove them from the garden. You can then spray the remaining canes and branches with a fungicide, to make sure all of the disease is stopped in its tracks. You'll be doing your plants a favor by pruning - you'll also open them up to better air circulation, which will make them less susceptible to fungal disease. Finally, plants should only be fertilized when they're actively growing. Your end-of-the-season fertilizer application may have encouraged the plant to put on new growth at the wrong time of year. Hold off on the fertilizer this year until the plants recover. Next summer you can apply rose food, when the plants need the extra boost to put on new flowers and stems.<br>The aphids can be hosed off with a strong stream of water, or you can use an insecticidal soap, according to label directions. Good luck with your roses!

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