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Avatar for GardenDreaming
Jun 1, 2020 1:02 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Holly
Baltimore, MD (Zone 7b)
Hi everyone,

I am very new to caring for roses. I have an Arctic Blue, Twilight Zone and Fragrant Plum, all in containers. The Arctic Blue was purchased two years ago and Twilight Zone and Fragrant Plum arrived ten days ago from Northland Rosarium. I live in Baltimore, MD.

My main question: Is it possible to care for roses without using any pesticides? It seems like my roses attract more pests and problems than virtually any other plant in my roof garden. Every other day there seems to be a new issue, from caterpillars to aphids to spider mites and dying or discolored/disfigured leaves. I have been trying to deal with each issue by manually removing the pests as they appear and inspecting the leaves each morning for any new developments while I water my garden. Are there any other things I should be doing regularly to protect against pests? I don't like the idea of using pesticides because I don't want to accidentally kill any pollinators.

Another issue: my Arctic Blue got pruned back VERY severely in March when the weather was already warming up by the landscaper at my apartment complex back in Cincinnati (even though I asked him not to prune any of my plants!) I think that is why it has only produced two blooms this season so far, even though it is a fairly established plant. Could that account for why some of the canes look like they are dying? The holes on the Arctic Blue are from caterpillars that got to my plant the one day I was away : (

I assume the reddish leaves on my Twilight Zone are just new growth, not a witch's broom. Fingers crossed!

If you have any suggestions, please let me know. None of my roses seem to really be thriving, despite my best efforts, unlike the other plants in my garden!! : (

Thank you!

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Avatar for bart2018
Jun 1, 2020 2:14 PM CST
Tuscany, Italy
Welcome to rose gardening. I think it is rather challenging to grow roses in pots, and I don't know how to do it very well, since I only keep mine in pots for the first year or so, until they are big enough to plant out in my garden,so I fervently hope that some people who are axpert at this will weigh in. However, you are SO right to want to avoid pesticides-they are a bad deal all around. Like all predators, insects do have a very, very keen instinct and most definitely DO attack plants that they know are "weak"-that is, growing in overly poor soil ,roots too restricted and not able to take up enough moisture, etc, etc, etc. I see this quite clearly in my garden; I know that a rose does not have good enough soil if I see it is being infested by bugs.
It is DEFINITELY quite possible, and augurable, that one cultivates roses without pesticides!!! I do know what I am talking about- as a beginner, I sprayed with a systemic. All the aphids did die, of course-the only problem is that the relatively innocuous aphids help keep away the much, much more damaging thrips!'s all a sort of symbiotic chain,and applying pesticides just breaks that chain and puts your own health at risk.
So, my advice: first of all, you're on the right track mentally. Secondly, Twilight Zone and Fragrant Plum are just tiny infants for you-even if you purchased them as fairly large, well-developed plants, they are still totally beginners on your roof. I strongly suggest that you research how to grow roses in containers; from what you write it just sounds like you need to learn about cultivating roses in containers; that your roses are only being targeted by the bugs because they are feeling some lack. And no, pesticides are by no means a good idea, nor are they necessary. Focus on learning about cultivating roses in containers! Best of luck; I bet this will work out fine.
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