Ask a Question forum: Roses keep dying - southern Mexico - something eating the roots?

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Mexico
rosesinmexico
Feb 28, 2018 3:51 PM CST
Hello - I am new to gardening and am at a loss as to how to stop my roses from dying. I live in a mountainous region of southern Mexico. Over the last year or so, all my roses have started dying. They are all planted in pots. I water them every other day. I buy the soil "pre-mixed" from the place where I buy my plants (I think it is just soil that they have dug up somewhere, mixed with leaves and things). Everything is always fine for a few weeks but then the flowers suddenly die (sometimes before they open) and the leaves fall off the plants. Leaf-cutter ants are a problem in my garden too, but I don't think it is them as the leaves go brown first. I think the culprit may be a pest that is quite common here, but I don't know what it is called in English (here it is known as "gallina ciega") - it is the larvae of a big beetle, and they eat the roots of plants. I find them a lot in the garden and always remove them. I don't know how to stop them coming and eating the roots of my roses. I have tried several things recommended locally - planting garlic in every pot, watering them with water infused with chili and garlic, treating them with a small amount of "slaked lime" (I don't know if that's the correct translation) and nothing seems to work. I have thrown them all out and started again (with new soil) several times but the same thing always happens. If it is a pest, whatever it is always comes back. The same thing does happen to other plants in the garden too, but nowhere near to the same extent. It seems to be impossible for me to keep roses healthy here. If anyone has any advice, I would very grateful. I have read about all sorts of other bugs and diseases but cannot find anything matching this problem. Thank you very much in advance.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Feb 28, 2018 4:59 PM CST
Welcome!

The English name of your pest is "Blind Hen". I found this article that may help you. It was originally in Spanish but my computer translated it for me. I hope this helps.

https://seder.jalisco.gob.mx/f...

A couple thoughts for you:

The flowers on your roses are going to die faster than they would in colder climates.

I wonder if you are importing your grubs with your locally made potting soil.

Can you elevate your pots so they don't sit directly on the ground?

Good Luck!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Mexico
rosesinmexico
Feb 28, 2018 5:25 PM CST
Hello Daisyl! Thank you for replying to me! My pots are all now on tables but it doesn't seem to have made any difference (the current batch have always been on the tables in fact). Re. importing the bug, I agree - I think the pest may have been in the soil, but now it is here I am not sure what to do. My garden is very big and perhaps it now lives in the ground and when I bring my plants into the garden they just move on in! I'm a little nervous about using insecticides, mainly because of my animals, but if there is no alternative I will have to investigate. One question: have you heard of the term "blind hen" in English or is that just a direct translation? (I had never heard of it in English.) Thanks for the link, too.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 28, 2018 5:35 PM CST
Blind Hen is a direct translation but when I Google "blind hen beetle", I get "gallina ciega". It seems to occur only in Central America which probably explains why none of us have ever heard of it. And there seems to be more than one kind of insect called gallina ciega, the commonality being white grubs that eat roots. Here, we would probably call them root maggots.

Sorry I can't be more helpful.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Feb 28, 2018 5:50 PM CST
Thanks again, Daisyl! Thank You! The bugs are about the size of my thumb and are greyish-white but with a red face. I've never seen anything like them in Europe, but I thought they might exist somewhere in the USA (or perhaps something similar). I am not sure that it is those bugs either (particularly as the latest batch of roses are all in different soil and even in new pots), so I am open to suggestions as to other causes too. I feel so sorry for all my roses - I wish there was something I could do. The only (light) "bug killers" I can find here are a spray but that is to put on the leaves so I don't think it will do anything. There are industrial bug killers in the shops for farmers but I don't think I would feel comfortable using them in my garden (plus they would probably want to sell me a huge amount). I will see if anyone has any ideas... Crossing Fingers!
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Feb 28, 2018 9:25 PM CST
I am not going to address your insect problem because I don't have a clue as to what I would do if I had the same problem ... Smiling

As far as growing roses in containers, it can be a little tricky, but roses like to grow, so if you give them the right conditions, you shouldn't have problems growing them in containers.

The most important thing you need to consider when growing roses in a container is drainage. If your drainage is too slow and the soil in your pot stays wet, your roses will get root rot and die. Roses don't like wet feet. So whatever soil you are using has to have good drainage.

You may want to do a perk test by filling a container with the soil you intend to use and watering it thoroughly. If it is very slow draining, you will need to add something like Perlite to your soil mix before planting to lighten the soil mixture up for better drainage.

You should also lift the pot up from the hardscape. You don't need to buy fancy pot feet, you can use anything that lifts the pot up enough so that water can drain out of the pot. You also do not want to use plant trays with your container grown roses. If you leave the rose in a tray with water, the water will wick up through the drainage holes.

Roses will do poorly if they are over watered ... too much love ... and if they are under watered ... too much neglect. So how do you know when to water ? When you first plant your rose, before you water it in, lift the side of the pot. That's how it feels when the soil is totally dry. Then water your new rose in and lift the pot again. That's how it feels when the soil is fully saturated .. heavy. So, when you think you need to water, lift the side of the pot. If it is heavy, you don't need to water. If it is light, the plant needs to be watered.

Your goal is to have the weight of the pot somewhere between heavy and light. You don't want to let your roses dry out completely. You want to just have the soil moist most of the time. Your weather will be an indicator as to when you need to add more water, too.

When you first plant your rose, don't feed it anything until you see new top growth. There is no way you can plant a rose without damaging the feeder roots, so the first thing the rose will be doing is growing roots. When you see new top growth, you know the root system is working and can take up nutrients. Then you can feed your rose.

To feed your roses, water them heavily the day before you feed them so that the soil is totally saturated. Then feed with half strength or less with a liquid fertilizer. No time released or granular fertilizers. Because you are using diluted fertilizer, you want to feed them lightly and often.

As for the insect problem, maybe @Sooby can address that issue.

Good luck with your roses.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Mar 1, 2018 8:42 AM CST
A book I found online says gallina ciego are scarab beetles in the family Dynastinae (rhinocerus beetles) so related to the white grubs we get in turf.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

"Some species can become major pests, e.g., in tree plantations. Usually though, beetle population densities are not as high as in some other pest insects, and food trees which are typically already sick or dying from some other cause are preferred. Some species' larvae, however, will attack healthy trees or even root vegetables, and when they occur in large numbers, can cause economically significant damage. The fungus Metarhizium anisopliae is a proven biocontrol agent for beetle infestation in crops."

I don't know if your roses come in the healthy or already sick category or whether the fungus biocontrol is available in Mexico.
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 9:33 AM CST
Thank you RoseBlush1 and Sooby! Lots of tips (Daisyl too) for me to try out.
It's quite hard to find certain products here (my little town is several hours away from big towns that might sell more well-known things) so I usually have to make do with what I can find. The only plant food sold anywhere here is those tiny coloured balls. Next time I go to a bit city, I will see if I can find the liquid plant food you mentioned (I think I should just stop with the little balls, right?).
If my soil is slow-draining, is there something other than Perlite I can use (I have never seen that before and it might be hard to get)?
The pots are all on tables, but the tables are slatted tables with big gaps between the slats, so I hope that will help with drainage.
I am fairly sure that the plants are healthy when they arrive. They usually seem fine for the first month or so and then they suddenly degenerate fast. I suspect that the soil I bought from the plant place was infected but now the whole garden is infected so changing the soil doesn't help much. I mentioned the rose problem to the man who sold me the soil and the plants and he suddenly seemed nervous and guilty!
I think I will throw all my plants away again and start fresh, following all your tips and using totally different soil (I will dig it up in the fields outside of town).
Thanks again for all your help. Thank You!
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Mar 1, 2018 10:30 AM CST
I would be cautious about using dug up soil for plants in pots, or at least exclusively. Firstly, garden/field soil alone is not suitable for container plants, and secondly since the larvae of these beetles live in the soil you could be digging them up and bringing them home along with the soil. You would be better getting some potting mix that is specifically for plants growing in containers even if you have to mix some actual soil in with it for weight so the pots don't blow over. One thing not to do is layer the media in the pots, i.e. do not put stones/gravel in the bottom before filling with potting mix.

Can you post a picture of your roses in their pots? How big are the pots in relation to the roses?
[Last edited by sooby - Mar 1, 2018 10:30 AM (+)]
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Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 10:57 AM CST
Thanks Sooby! The pots are a variety of sizes - the smallest ones being about 30cm tall and 30cm across and the largest being about 60cm tall and 50cm across. The rose plants were pretty small when I bought them (I don't know how to describe the size of the plants themselves).
I don't have any good pictures but I will take some this weekend and attach them. The only picture I have on my phone isn't very clear, but I will attach it anyway. In this picture you can only see the small pots that I have.
Almost all of the pots are made of plastic, but some are terracotta. The roses in the smaller pots seem to do a lot less well.
I don't think it is the pots or their size that are the real problem (that was my dad's first theory) as I bought some roses and small pots for my mother in law and her plants are just lovely - beautiful and healthy. I imagine she just used soil from her farm, but I'm not sure.
They do sell little bags of premixed soil in the supermarket but it is super expensive here. I have a lot of pots (30 to 40) so I don't think I would be able to afford to do all of them. Maybe I should do two or three at a time and see how they go.
Thumb of 2018-03-01/rosesinmexico/73f514

Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Mar 1, 2018 11:20 AM CST
rosesinmexico ...

I live in a remote town in the mountains and it's a long drive down the mountain to shopping. I do a lot of shopping on line. Many suppliers provide free shipping even to my small mountain town.

A lot of garden suppliers are now on line. (That helps with price comparisons ... Smiling

Since you contacted our site on line, I am guessing you may be able to do some on line shopping, to.

Here is a link to Amazon for Mexico:

https://www.amazon.com.mx/

I don't think using native soil that you dig up outside of town is the best way to get soil for your containers. Usually, the soil has to be amended for drainage.

I am going to tag an NGA site user (@Baja_Costero) who lives in another part of Mexico to see if he can answer some of your questions.

Good luck with your roses.
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 11:50 AM CST
Thanks RoseBlush1! I hadn't thought of Amazon. I've only had a very quick look, but I can't actually find any soil on the Mexican Amazon site, which is frustrating. The Mexican site hasn't been going that long, so maybe when they expand they will have more gardening things. The prices on the Mexican Amazon also seem a little high. For example, 17 litres of Perlite is apparently 193 US dollars (!) whereas on the UK site 10 litres is under ten US dollars. I don't want to get things delivered from abroad, if possible, as many things are either not allowed through customs or have a big import tax. Unfortunately, many suppliers (including Mexican Amazon) do not offer free delivery (or even paid delivery) out here.
However, there is a Home Depot a few hours away, so during the vacation I can drive out there and buy potting soil there if necessary.
I will take your advice re the soil and not bother digging up soil from the ground.

Bookworm The WITWIT Badge Moon Gardener Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Native Plants and Wildflowers Roses
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Tisha
Mar 1, 2018 12:14 PM CST
rosesinmexico,
What type of roses are you growing in 11-12 inch pots.
Do all of your pots have drain holes?
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 12:25 PM CST
Hi Tisha! I'm really not sure about the variety of roses. The ones in the small pots are some kind of variety with small flowers (about 2 or 3 cm across) and small leaves (even when they are planted in large pots). The ones I put in the larger pots are what I think of as "standard" in the UK. They have larger flowers (maybe 10cm across) and larger leaves. All the pots have drainage holes in the bottom.

Bookworm The WITWIT Badge Moon Gardener Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Native Plants and Wildflowers Roses
Vermiculture Frogs and Toads Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Tisha
Mar 1, 2018 1:40 PM CST
rosesinmexico,
Sometimes rose growing can be a challenge till you find the method of growing them that works for you.
Please ask as many questions of your fellow rose growers as you want. We all want you to be successful.
Hang in there. We`re all rooting for you! Smiling
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 1:45 PM CST
Thanks, Tisha! Thank You!
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 1, 2018 3:06 PM CST
Howdy : Roses I tip my hat to you.
Use no dirt from the ground.
Make a list for big city trip ! Home Depot, and maybe a feed supply store.
Hears what to get.
HD should have a systemic food and bug killer for your roses. You apply it to ground, and water it in, so unless, your kids or animals eat the roses or bushes , they'll be fine.
Buy your potting soil, and equal parts of either chicken grit or washed sand. Not playground sand, it kills plants for some reason Shrug! !!! You may, have to go to farm supply to find chicken grit ?
Use, equal parts of potting soil to washed sand or chicken grit, instead of perlite, for more weight to your pots.
DONT !!! Let anything touch ground !
Ground could contaminate it.
Also, sterile your pots.

Is your head spining yet ?
Mine is ! Lol.

Ttfn Buddy 👍
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Mexico
rosesinmexico
Mar 1, 2018 3:58 PM CST
Thanks Philipwonel! I may be a long way from places like Home Depot, but I can definitely find farm supply businesses here very easily! I will call in over the weekend and get some chicken grit (I hope they do sell it!) I will get some new roses, follow your advice (and everyone else's) and keep my fingers crossed... Thanks again!
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 1, 2018 5:08 PM CST
Farm supply ?🤔???
They should have chicken grit, yep.
Humm, alfalfa pellets also.
I'm kind of thinking, that an equal part mix of alfalfa pellets and chicken grit, might make a good growing medium !

🤔🤔🤔. I'm trying to think, what else ???
Some fire ashes, for potash. Yes !
Egg shells for calcium.
Used coffee grounds, for acid.

Wow ! I think it would work !

Did I miss anything, anybody ?

I may try it myself.
😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Mar 1, 2018 7:06 PM CST
Phillip ...

A huge NO to using alfalfa pellets in containers.

Container gardening is very, very different from gardening in the ground.

If you read my post above, I suggested that when feeding a container rose that you only use a liquid fertilizer at half strength or less.

Roses can't read, so it doesn't matter whether the gardener chooses to use organic fertilizer or chemical fertilizer as long as it has the right balance of nutrients.

Actually, when you feed a plant, you are really feeding the soil bacteria which break down the fertilizer into a form where the plant can take up the nutrients through reverse osmosis.

In a container grown plant, if the fertilizer is too strong you run the risk of root burn and end up with a dead plant.

If rosesinmexico chose to use the ingredients you are suggesting, they would have to be made into a tea and she would have to dilute the tea sufficiently so that the risk of root burn is minimized.

As for chicken grit, I have never used it in any containers I've grown roses in, so I don't know if it is a good solution. I have a hunch that as the root mass grows and the humus in the potting soil decomposes, the grit will sink to the bottom of the container and actually inhibit drainage.

Maybe @Sooby can tell us more about that.

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.

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