Roses make an attractive addition to any sunny garden but can frustrate gardeners when they fall prey to common pests and disease. These problems can be solved with pesticides and chemicals but they can be expensive and are not a viable option for organic gardeners. There are, however, many inexpensive and effective home remedies for the problems that plague rose bushes which you may want to try before heading to the garden center.
Aphids and Spider Mites
Aphids and spider mites are two of the biggest pest problems faced by rose gardeners. Both are small insects that congregate on the leaves of rose bushes and other garden plants. The simplest cure for mite and aphid problems is to shoot a blast of water at them. On roses susceptible to mildew, however, leaves need to be sprayed early in the day so they have ample time to dry. Aphids can also be controlled using a spray made of one-quarter cup buttermilk, 2 cups of wheat flower and 2 1/2 gallons of water. You can make your own insecticidal soap by combining 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of dish washing liquid and 1 cup of water or mixing together 3 tablespoons of soap and 1 gallon of water. Cover the leaves thoroughly with the spray, making sure to coat them both top and bottom. Leave the soap solution on the leaves for a few hours and then rinse thoroughly.
As their name suggests, Japanese beetles are native to Japan but were introduced to the United State in 1916. They can be a major concern on rose bushes and other crops grown in the eastern United States but have been slowly marching westward and have been found as far west as California. Many gardeners simply pick them off by hand and throw them into a bucket of soapy water. This method is time consuming, however, and not practical for the squeamish gardener. Another option is to place a handful of larkspur (Consolida ambigua) or delphinium (Delphinium) leaves into a blender with 1 gallon of water and spray it onto your roses. Homemade insecticidal soap can be used to combat Japanese beetles as well.
Powdery mildew, rust and black spot are the triple threat of rose fungal diseases and there are many homemade recipes for curing them. Plants infected with any of these fungi can be treated by steeping 16 bags of chamomile tea or 2 cups of dried chamomile flowers in 2 quarts of water for 20 minutes. Strain the tea or remove the tea bags and spray onto affected plants. A combination of 2 crushed uncoated aspirin dissolved in 1 quart of water also makes an all purpose fungicidal spray. Powdery mildew and black spot can both be treated with a mixture of 2 teaspoons of baking soda, one-half teaspoon of liquid soap or oil soap and 2 quarts of water. A spray comprised of 1 part milk and 9 parts water is also recommended for powdery mildew.
Although not a disease or pest, chlorosis is a problem often faced by rose gardeners. Chlorosis can have many causes, but is most often associated with an iron or nitrogen deficiency. When the problem is a lack of iron, the leaves of the plant turn yellow but the veins running through them stay green, while nitrogen deficiency causes the entire leaf, including its veins, to fade to yellow. Iron efficiency can be addresses by spreading a homemade mixture of iron sulphate and compost on the soil above the plant’s root system. The ratio for this recipe is 1 cup of iron sulfate to 1 bushel of compost. For nitrogen deficient plants, try amending the soil with coffee grounds.
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