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With the prevalence of RRD attacking Knockouts, I thought it might be good to get a refresher on this devasting problem.
Rosette disease of roses is caused by a virus-like organism.
It is most likely spread by a type of mite (the eriophyid). It first spread
through the wild rose population (Rosa multiflora) in the US. It has now
attacked cultivated roses.
The symptoms of rose rosette disease (RRD) are very
interesting-and they can be quite variable. Some symptoms include rapid
elongation of new shoots, development of witches brooms or clustering of very
small branches at stem tips. Leaves in the witch’s brooms will be small,
distorted, and sometimes red in color; affected canes can be thicker than
normal canes. The most reliable method
of identification is the appearance of a huge number of soft, pliable red or
green thorns on affected stems. Flower
buds may also be affected, with flowers changing color, aborted buds, or
conversion to leafy tissue.
Rose plants affected by rosette disease will usually die in
one or two years. There are no effective controls for this disease; any suspect
roses should be removed immediately from the garden.
Some other information from Sandy Feather, an Extension
While 'Knock Out' roses are resistant to common rose diseases such
as black spot, they are as susceptible as any other rose to rose rosette
disease. This disease has been spreading through wild multiflora rose
populations in the
since the 1940s, and now it has spread throughout the East.
Multiflora rose (
introduced to this country in the late 1800s as an ornamental and for use as a
hardy rootstock for grafting more tender varieties of roses. In the 1930s and
'40s, multiflora rose was promoted by the Department of Agriculture Soil
Conservation Service for erosion control, strip mine reclamation and use as a
living fence because of its dense, thorny growth habit. We now know that it is
a terrible weed due to its ability to grow and thrive in less than ideal
situations and its ability to produce prolific seed crops.
Multiflora rose is extremely susceptible to rose rosette disease,
and it kills infected plants in about two years. As a matter of fact, the
disease is so efficient at killing multiflora rose that it has been considered
for use in controlling this pest. Unfortunately, rose rosette disease can also
infect our garden roses, including hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures,
climbers, shrub roses and old-fashioned garden roses.
Although we have known about this disease for a long time, the
true identity of the causal organism was not known for certain. It had long
been thought that the culprit was a virus, but other organisms such as
phytoplasmas had also been considered. That changed in 2011 when researchers at
An extremely tiny (1/100 of an inch long and 1/400 of inch wide)
eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, spreads the virus from plant to
plant. They typically feed on shoot tips and at the bases of leaf stems
(petioles). These mites are wingless, and are blown from plant to plant by the
wind. The virus is also spread when infected (but asymptomatic) roses are
grafted to propagate named varieties of roses.
Rose rosette disease is systemic and has been found in all parts
of infected plants except for the seeds. The causal agent is not soil-borne, so
roses can be successfully replanted where infested roses have been removed.
However, removal must be very thorough so that no pieces of infected root are
left behind that could re-sprout.
There is still no definitive laboratory test for the disease, so
diagnosis is based on a range of symptoms that vary from species to species,
even cultivar to cultivar, and with different stages of infection. Symptoms
• New growth at inappropriate times of the year.
• Rapid stem elongation.
• Bright red to dark red mosaic patterns on the leaves. While many
varieties of roses have red-colored new growth, it hardens off to green. With
rose rosette disease, it stays red.
• Infected plants produce numerous lateral shoots, known as
witches brooms, that create bunches of growth at the tips of canes. These
shoots are often bright red.
• Leaves are smaller than normal or they may be badly distorted in
a way resembling herbicide damage. Some garden roses show red or pink-colored
• Some canes produce only sparse red and/or yellow foliage; others
die and turn brown. On garden roses, symptoms come and go. At times, the plant
may seem to recover. Many garden roses can go on like this for four or five years.
• On garden roses, certain canes produce an overabundance of
thorns (hyperprickliness). These canes usually die back in the fall. Some
short, deformed canes produce more buds than usual and smaller-than-normal or
badly distorted leaves. Again, the distortion is similar to herbicide damage.
Powdery mildew becomes a problem on roses that are normally resistant.
Although there is no chemical control for rose rosette disease,
there are steps you can take to protect your roses. First of all, monitor
nearby populations of multiflora roses, especially those upwind of your garden,
for the symptoms described above. Because they are so susceptible, they can be
early warning of the disease's presence in your neighborhood. If possible,
eliminate any multiflora roses growing within 300 feet of your garden. Because
they do not die quickly from the disease, they serve as a reservoir of
The best course of action is to remove and destroy garden roses
that show any of the symptoms as soon as you notice them. Be sure to send them
out with the trash or burn them rather than composting them.
Controlling the mites is not as easy as it sounds; they are active
from May through September, they are not visible to the naked eye, and they
reproduce very rapidly, especially during hot, dry weather.
While there are recommendations for commercial nurseries to
control the mites, the most effective materials are not available to home
gardeners. Because they are not insects, traditional insecticides that home
gardeners use may not control them. What's more, those insecticides can kill
beneficial insects that keep other rose pests in check, so you can wind up with
an outbreak of another pest.
Monitoring your roses carefully and getting rid of any that show
suspicious growth is the most practical course of action.
Hostas are great garden plants that will add texture and
color to shady or semi-shady spots in your garden. Actually, hostas will take a
pretty good amount of sun as long as they receive adequate water.
Hostas can be purchased either in containers or as bare root
Bare root hostas should have their roots soaked in water for
a couple of hours before planting to re-hydrate the root systems. Hostas prefer nice light, loose garden soil,
so add lots of organic matter to your planting area when you are putting in
Hostas will appreciate a water-soluble fertilizer at
planting time and monthly during the growing season.
Large hostas are easy to dig and divide in the spring time
when the leaves are just emerging and are still pencil sized, in fall as the
leaves begin to yellow or even in the early summer as long as you have good
soil conditions and keep them well watered.
Just lift the entire clump and separate the roots. Some of
the smaller root pieces on the outer perimeter of the plant will pull apart
easily. You can also cut the root system into pieces using a sharp knife, a
serrated bread knife or a hacksaw.
Slugs love hostas. To protect your hostas from slug damage,
you can set out baits for the slugs. Use a tuna can, dig a hole near your
hostas and sink the tuna can in it up to the rim. Fill the can with beer and
the slugs will be attracted to the smell. They will fall in and meet their
Or you can use grapefruit halves. Hollow the grapefruits, and place
them cut side down in the garden. The slugs will crawl under them during the
night. Go out early in the morning, lift the grapefruits and squish the slugs
or put them in a bucket of soapy water.
The Hosta Society also recommends a vinegar spray. Mix one part white vinegar
to four parts water and spray the leaves and surrounding area with the
There is also a product call diatomaceous earth (DE) that is very effective for controlling slugs and snails around your hostas.
Hostas are also susceptible to root and crown rot diseases.
Yellow leaves can be caused by heat stress, but there are also fungi that can
affect hostas. Rhizoctonia root rot is fairly common and can be treated with a soil drench fungicide to prevent further spread of the disease.
Crown rot is another problem, caused by a fungus called
Sclerotium. This disease is most likely spread by contaminated soil and plants.
So checking closely for evidence of the fungal bodies---fine white threads or
small, mustard seed looking spheres—can prevent the disease from getting to
your garden in the first place.
Once crown rot has invaded your garden removal of the
contaminated soil (to eight inches deep!) is really the only way to get rid of
Careful inspection of new and existing plants for evidence of
problems, good sanitation practices, proper planting techniques (not too deep!)
and maintaining mulch free zones around the plant base are all ways to help
prevent disease problems with hostas.
How much water you need to apply depends on a lot of
factors: weather conditions, soil type, and of course, the size and type of the
plants are among the most important.
The very best way to water your plants is with a
soaker hose. Plants like arborvitae for instance will be more susceptible to
insect and disease damage if they are drought stressed, so watering thoroughly
is essential to the plant’s survival.
Place the soaker hose at the base of the plant and give them
a long, slow drink. A good test to use to ensure that the roots have enough
water is to take a screwdriver and insert it into the soil near the root
system. If the screwdriver goes into the soil easily enough, you should have
provided enough water.
If you use sprinklers to water larger areas of your garden,
your lawn for instance, the best time to
water is early in the morning. Air movement is usually calmer in the morning
hours so you will lose less water to evaporation.
Watering in the morning also allows time for the leaves to
dry during the day. This will help to prevent some disease problems.
As a general rule, a good inch of water every week will
provide moisture to a deep of 4-6 inches and more into the soil profile. This
is important, because to ensure the long term health of your plants, the roots
need to grow deeply searching for water.
Frequent, shallow watering just encourages the the roots to
stay close to the soil surface which makes them more susceptible to heat and
Place a container near the edge of the sprinkler’s coverage
area so that you can measure how long it takes to get an inch of water down,
then check to make sure the water is soaking in well. If you have an irrigation
system, then you can set the timers to run as long as you need, and at the
Watering plants thoroughly especially in areas where they
are competing with tree roots is very important too. New plants need plenty of
water to get established.