In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
Check for aphids on rose flowers, buds, and leaves
My Little Rose Pests
Aphids showed up in my garden this spring for the first time in 12 years. It was my own fault. I got busy this year and didn't keep a constant watch for the little guys. Local farmers said they are seeing more aphids on the alfalfa than usual this year, and our Double Dober Rose Ranch is surrounded by alfalfa fields. You can guess where they went after munching on the alfalfa?
Aphids come in many colors, from green to black, to white, and even pink. They are small and hardly noticeable until hundreds of them are on the rose stems, sucking the life out of my bushes. They multiply faster than rabbits, so a small infestation one day turns into a full-fledged epidemic the next. They harm plants not only by their sucking action, but also by transmitting diseases.
The best prevention for aphids is to keep the plants healthy and reduce the nitrogen fertilizer since aphids like the young, succulent growth best. Keep a sharp lookout, and if you find any aphids, try to keep the numbers low.
Only when I started to deadhead the roses of spent blooms did I notice the critters - fat and happy sucking on the rose buds. Instead of going for the heavy chemical sprays, I mixed up a batch of soapy water and sprayed it on the roses. That seemed to do the trick for now.
If I can't keep up with the aphids by spraying soapy water or the commercial product, insecticidal soap, I spray horticultural oil or pyrethrum on them. These more potent organic sprays seem to keep the aphids in their place, and I can move on to more important tasks, such as cutting roses for an indoor flower display. As long as I keep checking the roses, they're happy, I'm happy, and the aphids are history.
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