The Q&A Archives: Fuzzy White Coating on Roses

Question: Newly planted bare root roses have grown well and even flowered (7 weeks in pots on a screened patio). Some of the lower leaves have turned yellow and dried up. I have used only a commercial spray to control aphids on the plants. Also some of the leaves and the buds seem to becoming coated in a white, almost fuzzy, covering. Please help as these rose blooms about eight inches across and are really fragrant. What commercial products are available and are any of these a systemic which will better protect the plants? Neil Sacks Coral Springs, FL

Answer: First of all, your yellowing leaves could be a symptom of overwatering or underwatering, or a nutrient deficiency. If might also be that such early flowering on your young plant stressed it -- flowering takes a lot of a plant's energy and yours may not have had a strong enough root system. I assume that your plants get plenty of sunshine on your patio. Be sure to keep plants well watered, but not saturated, and feed regularly with an all-purpose fertilizer (or one formulated specially for roses). That fuzzy coating is probably powdery mildew, very common on roses. Try to increase air circulation if possible, and prune out very dense growth. You may need to begin a regular program of spraying or dusting to control the mildew. Sulfur dust isoften used; as are other commercial fungicides. Whatever you choose, be sure to read and follow the directions and safety precautions on the label.

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