Rose Troubleshooting: Common Pests And Problems

Indoor potted rose with water drops. Home hobby gardening on whiter time
© Kattecat/

Written by Em Casalena

Updated: August 22, 2023

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Roses are so much fun to grow. Whether you have a potted indoor rose or a vast outdoor rose garden, chances are you love the look of the classic rose. Because of this, it can be a real bummer when one’s roses start to wilt, drop leaves, or stop growing. Luckily, there are many different ways to do some rose troubleshooting and diagnose the problem.

Let’s take a look at some common rose diseases, pests, and care problems that could be affecting your rose crop.

What are Roses?

A rose is a perennial blooming plant in the Rosaceae family that belongs to the Rosa genus. A rose generally has thorny stems, rich green foliage, enormous, spectacular blooms with numerous layers of petals in various hues including red, pink, white, yellow, or orange, and is known for its incomparable beauty, scent, and symbolic importance. 

Worldwide, roses are grown for their decorative value and are frequently connected to adoration, passion, and elegance. Roses retain a particular position in gardens, bouquets, and cultural expressions all around the world, and there are hundreds of cultivars and hybrid variations to choose from.

Rose Troubleshooting: Diseases

Around the world, gardeners and flower lovers adore roses. In fact, they are often regarded as the pinnacle of beauty and elegance. However, just like any other living thing, roses can contract a number of illnesses that can stunt their development and vitality. The different illnesses that may afflict roses vary considerably. Let’s take a look at some information on their symptoms, causes, and remedies.

Black Spot (Diplocarpon rosae

One of the most prevalent and harmful illnesses that affect roses is black spot. It is mostly a problem for the leaves and is brought on by a fungus. Infected leaves grow irregularly shaped, dark brown or black patches that cause the plant to lose its leaves and become weaker. Humidity and moisture encourage its development. Make sure there is adequate airflow, follow a regular watering plan, and get rid of diseased leaves as soon as possible to avoid black spot.

Powdery Mildew (Podosphaera pannosa

Another fungus that affects roses is powdery mildew, which forms a powdery white covering on the leaves, stems, and buds. It tends to grow on roses in crowded, humid conditions. It’s possible for infected leaves to wilt, become yellow, and then fall. Make sure plants are adequately spaced apart, have excellent air circulation, and use fungicides as required to avoid powdery mildew.

Rose Rust (Phragmidium spp.)

On the undersides of leaves, rose rust, a fungal disease, develops orange or rusty brown pustules. In warm, muggy weather, it can spread quickly, causing the plant to lose its leaves and become weaker. To stop rose rust from spreading, remove affected leaves, encourage adequate air circulation, and think about using fungicides.

Botrytis Blight (Botrytis cinerea

Botrytis blight is a fungus that causes botrytis blight, sometimes called gray mold. It affects every part of the rose plant and prefers humid, chilly weather. Gray-brown patches, browning and decaying buds, and a fuzzy gray mold covering the afflicted areas are all signs of the disease. Botrytis blight can be avoided by good rose hygiene, sufficient spacing, and quick removal of affected plant material.

Rose Mosaic Virus (RMV)

Rose mosaic virus is a virus that harms roses and causes a range of symptoms, including mottling, yellowing, and leaf deformation. Fewer flowers may be produced by infected plants, and their development may be limited. Aphids and contaminated plant debris are two ways the virus might spread. RMV can be avoided by keeping infected plants out of the same environment as your other roses and by managing aphid populations.

Preventive Measures to Fight Rose Diseases

Several precautions may be taken in order to reduce the danger of illness in roses:

  • Choose Disease-Resistant Varieties – Pick rose kinds that are less prone to common illnesses that are widespread in your region.
  • Proper Planting and Maintenence – Roses should be planted in well-drained soil with access to enough sunshine. To increase air circulation and stop the development of illness, routinely prune and remove sick or dead plant portions.
  • Watering and Fertilizing – Water roses from the bottom up to prevent getting any water on the leaves, as this might encourage the growth of diseases. Roses need to be fertilized properly to keep their strength and tenacity.
  • Sanitation – Maintain proper garden hygiene by swiftly clearing away plant waste and fallen leaves. To avoid a disease outbreak, dispose of infectious waste away from the garden.
  • Integrated Pest Management – Implement an integrated pest management strategy to handle pests, such as aphids, which can transmit illnesses. This can entail implementing helpful insects, using insecticidal soaps, or adopting other environmentally friendly techniques.

Although many illnesses can affect roses, gardeners can reduce the danger and keep their roses healthy and vibrant by taking the right precautions and care. Roses will flourish and carry on bringing delight with their timeless beauty by choosing disease-resistant varieties, following appropriate sanitation standards, and providing ideal growth circumstances. To ensure the longevity and well-being of these beloved ornamental plants, monitor them regularly and provide rapid intervention when needed. It really isn’t too difficult!

A single bloom of the pink climbing rose 'Cinderella' (KORfobalt). Bred by Kordes Roses.

Healthy roses (pictured) will lack significant browning and drooping leaves, and will also produce an abundance of flowers.

©Gary Matuschka/

Rose Troubleshooting: Pests

Sadly, roses are susceptible to annoying pests that can impede their growth and diminish their attractiveness. Rose growers must be aware of various pests that may harm these cherished plants. Let’s look at some typical pests that might harm roses and examine their traits, the harm they can do, and the best ways to avoid and control them.


Small, soft-bodied insects known as aphids are often found on roses. These pests cause wilting, deformation, and yellowing of the foliage by feeding on the sap of sensitive shoots, buds, and leaves. Aphids may grow into thick colonies and reproduce quickly. Use a vigorous water blast to flush out aphids, promote beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings, or use insecticidal soaps and oils to kill the pests.


Thrips are small, thin insects with piercing mouthparts that are used for sucking. They eat the rose buds, which browns them and prevents them from opening fully. Flowers that are infected may have deformed petals and will wilt quickly. Pruning off impacted blooms, routine weeding, and insecticidal treatments can all help reduce thrips.

Spider Mites 

Spider mites are tiny parasites that can seriously harm rose plants. They eat by sucking sap from the undersides of leaves, leaving behind a stippled, yellow look. Leaf drop and decreased vigor might result from severe infestations. To control spider mite populations, promote natural predators like predatory mites, maintain sufficient humidity levels, and employ miticides as a last option.

Up Close Photo of a Spider Mite

Spider mites (pictured) differ from aphids in that they are red, orange, or brownish in hue.

©Tomasz Klejdsz/

Rose Chafers

Beetles called rose chafers eat the leaves and blooms of rose plants. They are more frequent in some areas and can seriously harm plants by skeletonizing leaves and eating petals. Hand-pick the beetles and remove them from the plants. If required, use physical barriers or pesticides with rose chafers on their labels.

Asian Beetles

Another common insect that harms roses is the Japanese beetle. After eating rose leaves, these shiny green insects leave behind a lace-like pattern. If left unmanaged, they may swiftly defoliate a rose shrub. Japanese beetles can be managed by manual removal, the use of pheromone traps, or the application of pesticides designed particularly for this species.

Rose Slugs

Rose slugs aren’t slugs at all. They resemble caterpillars but are actually sawfly larvae. They nibble away at the tops of the leaves, leaving behind clear areas that gradually become brown. The plant may lose its leaves if it is severely infested. Rose slugs can be manually removed, impacted foliage can be pruned off, and pesticides can be used if required.

Preventive Measures to Fight Rose Pests

Implementing preventative measures is essential to minimizing the damage that pests do to roses. Here are a few tips:

  • Regular Inspection – Keep an eye on roses often to spot insect infestations as soon as possible. Check the blooms and leaves for any indications of damage or insect presence.
  • Proper Planting and Care – Make sure roses are planted in soil that drains properly and gets enough sunshine. Regular pruning will keep plants healthy overall, increase airflow, eliminate dead or damaged plant material, and enhance air circulation.
  • Rose “Hygeine” – Cleaning up fallen leaves and other trash is a good hygiene practice since they can house insects and infections. Mulch the area surrounding the base of rosebushes to prevent weed development, which can act as a pest habitat.
  • Natural Predator Introduction – Encourage natural predators to help control pest populations, such as ladybugs, lacewings, and birds like robins and wrens. These helpful insects and birds eat pests.
  • Mechanical Control – To get rid of bigger pests like beetles and slugs, handpick them and put them into a pail of soapy water. Pests can also be contained by pruning strongly affected areas of the plant.
  • Chemical Control – As a last option, when pest populations exceed rose health and pose a concern, think about applying pesticides designed particularly for rose pests. When possible, carefully follow the directions and pick ecologically responsible solutions.

Pest control is an important component of caring for roses. Gardeners can defend their roses from the wrath of common pests by being watchful, using the best care practices, and implementing effective management treatments. These prized blooming plants will remain beautiful and long-lived with regular monitoring, early intervention, and a balanced approach to pest management.

Rose Troubleshooting: Care Problems

Roses need the right amount of attention and care to flourish. The health and vitality of gardeners’ roses can be adversely affected by unintentional blunders, even when the gardener has the best of intentions. Let’s look at some possible rose care mistakes that might harm them and offer advice on how to prevent them.

Incorrect Pruning

Pruning is essential to keeping rose bushes healthy and in good shape. Too little or too much pruning is a typical error. Inadequate pruning can result in overcrowding and poor air circulation, which increases the risk of plant diseases. On the other side, too much trimming can stress roses out and prevent them from blooming. Learn the correct pruning methods for the many rose kinds to avoid making this error, and prune during the right season for your area.

Spring pruning roses in the garden

Overpruning (pictured) is often the cause of significant growth problems with both indoor and outdoor roses.



While roses need to be watered often, overwatering can be harmful. Weak growth, root rot, and fungal infections can all be caused by too much moisture. Give your roses substantial, thorough waterings rather than frequently shallow waterings to avoid the error of overwatering. Make sure the soil is well-drained and keep an eye on the soil’s moisture level. Only water when the plant actually needs it.


Not watering roses enough can also be detrimental to their health. Plants that receive insufficient water may become stressed, wilt, and produce fewer flowers. Watering properly is especially important during hot and dry weather. Check the soil’s moisture content often and adapt your watering plan as necessary to prevent making this error.

Neglecting Soil Quality

The health of roses is directly impacted by the soil’s quality. Poor growth and nutrient deficiency can result from neglecting the soil by failing to amend it with organic matter, such as compost, or by ignoring its pH. Make sure the soil is loamy, rich in organic content, and well-draining. To maintain ideal conditions for rose growing, test the pH and adjust it as necessary.

Neglecting Pests and Diseases

For roses to thrive, illnesses and pests must be avoided. Ignoring the right precautions can lead to infestations and the spread of illnesses, which can cause serious harm. Be proactive by routinely checking your roses for pests and illnesses, maintaining a clean garden, encouraging air circulation, and using organic pest control techniques as needed.


The effects of excessive fertilizing on roses might be negative. Inadequate fertilization with high nitrogen fertilizers can encourage lush foliage growth at the price of blossoms and increase the susceptibility of plants to disease. Follow a balanced fertilization schedule, use slow-release fertilizers designed particularly for roses, and adhere to suggested treatment rates to avoid making this error.

Incorrect Placement

It’s important to pick the correct spot while planting roses. Roses might have sluggish growth and restricted blossoming if they are planted in places with little sunshine. Similar to putting them too close together, doing so might restrict airflow and raise the possibility of illnesses. Make sure your roses get at least six hours of direct sunlight every day, and give them enough room to flourish.

Neglecting Winter Protection

Roses require enough winter protection to withstand chilly temperatures and unfavorable weather. Frost damage, dieback, and even plant death can result from failing to protect roses over the winter. To get the roses ready for winter, mulch the area surrounding their bases, cover them with coverings like burlap, and trim them as needed in late October.

Gardeners can preserve the health, vitality, and plentiful flowering of their roses by avoiding common maintenance mistakes. The essentials of caring for roses include proper trimming, watering, soil management, preventing pests and diseases, and providing enough winter protection. Gardeners can enjoy these treasured flowers year after year by being diligent, informed, and aware of the needs of their roses.

Growing roses really isn’t that hard. If you’re noticing your plants aren’t looking as hot as they used to, it is definitely worth doing a bit of rose troubleshooting to figure out the problem. This guide can be a handy resource to use in the future!

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About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

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