How to Get Rid of Black Spot on Roses

It starts gradually — a few yellowed leaves dropped to the ground, a few dark brown or black spots on the leaves you can easily attribute to just natural aging. Then suddenly, your rose bush looks terrible! Leaves are falling off at a rapid clip. Before tumbling to the ground, the leaves are dotted with black spots or splotches that fade into the leaf itself. As the days progress, nearly all the leaves yellow and fall from your prized roses, leaving a thorny skeleton behind. What happened? Was it an insect that attacked overnight or something else?

Black Spot on Roses

If this scenario sounds familiar, welcome to the bane of the rose gardener’s existence: black spot on roses. Black spot (Marssonina rosae or Diplocarpans rosae) is a fungal disease considered to be the most serious rose disease in the world. The parasitical fungus spreads rapidly through direct contact among roses — usually at an infected grower’s site or in the home garden — or through wind-borne spores. Once black spot takes hold on a rose bush, it can quickly decimate the plant or weaken it to the extent that the plant dies.

What Causes Black Spots on Rose Leaves?

Before addressing horticultural practices to help prevent black spot disease, it’s important to understand what causes black spot on rose leaves.

Black spot is caused by a fungus, Marssonina rosae or Diplocarpans rosae. Scientists give this fungus two names to signify its normal state — Marsonnina — and its reproductive state — Diplocarpans. Most rose gardening sites simply refer to it as Diplocarpans rosae since it causes the most trouble when it’s reproducing and spreading throughout your garden, leaving behind noticeable yellow leaves with black spots on rose bushes.

Infected plants produce spores, and the spores are carried along by the wind until they land on the ground or on a plant. The spores must be moist for several hours in order to develop into full-fledged black spot, which is why the disease is more prevalent in areas with high humidity. Rainfall, mist, fog or even lawn sprinklers can provide sufficient moisture for black spot to thrive.

About two weeks after the spores infect a plant, the telltale black spots develop on the leaves. These black spots are what biologists call “fruiting structures.” The fruiting structures or spots produce spores, which continue to infect other areas of the same plant, new canes or other roses in the garden.

Black spot is a tenacious fungus — it thrives in warmth and moisture, but it tolerates a wide range of conditions including extreme heat and cold. Even a harsh winter won’t kill the spores lying dormant in your garden. To get rid of black spot disease on roses, you’ll need to try one or more of the four steps listed later in this article.

Some gardeners with severe infections may need all four steps to stop black spot in its tracks. This may seem extreme, but like many fungal diseases, black spot is tough to eradicate completely from the garden.

Symptoms of Black Spot Infection

At first, roses show no signs of infection. After the spores alight on a rose bush, it takes about two weeks for them to germinate and develop into mature fungus that can reproduce. Signs of black spot infection start small but rapidly increase, especially if the weather is particularly hot and humid.

Symptoms of black spot infection include:

  • The telltale black spots or dots on the rose bush’s green leaves. These spots may start as a dark, chocolate brown and turn darker over time. They can be anywhere on the upper surface of the leaf. The edges are irregular, almost feathery, and extend out from the darker center.
  • As the spots grow larger, the leaves turn yellow. The yellow leaves with black dots on roses form clusters of infected leaves. Soon, the whole plant looks sick. Eventually, leaves fall off the plant as their ability to make food (photosynthesis) is compromised by the infection.
  • Both old and new canes can also be infected with black spot. Black spot on canes looks like a purple dot or blotch. If the cane dies, the pathogen remains in the cane, so new canes are immediately infected. Black spot can live inside a rose’s canes over the winter, too.

Why Is Black Spot Bad for Roses?

Black spot looks ugly, of course. Yellowed leaves on roses aren’t attractive, and when they fall off, they leave a bare, skeletal plant. More importantly, black spot weakens the entire plant so that it may eventually die.

Plants produce energy within special cells of their leaves called chloroplasts. These cells are like little food factories, using the sun’s rays to transform water and carbon dioxide into energy for growth, maintenance and reproduction. This process is called photosynthesis.

Because black spot defoliates roses, there are fewer leaves to produce energy for the plant. The plant cannot produce enough new leaves fast enough to make up for the shortfall. As new leaves emerge, they’re also infected, and soon the plant doesn’t have any way left to make its energy supply. Although some plants can survive a year of this, two or more years in a row weakens them to the point at which they die, or a harsh winter kills an already weakened plant. That’s why black spot is such a dreadful disease.

Some tough garden roses can, in fact, survive a black spot infection. Roses are an ancient plant. Fossilized specimens indicate they have been around for 35 million years. Individual specimens and some rose species do indeed have a natural resistance to black spot, but many hybrids, particularly hybrid tea roses, are extremely susceptible to black spot disease.

Banish Black Spot From Your Garden in Four Steps

Armed with a good description of black spot disease, you’ve determined the problem in your rose garden is most likely caused by this pest. Now it’s time to take action.

There are four steps you can take to combat black spot disease on roses:

Step 1: Change Your Gardening Habits to Discourage Black Spot

Several gardening habits provide the ideal conditions necessary for the black spot spores to develop into full-blown disease. Here are five easy ways to help prevent black spot on roses.

Clean up your garden in the fall. Snip dead branches on perennials and shrubs and prune your roses. Don’t compost these garden scraps. Instead, bag them and set them out for the trash, hence, if any black spot spores are on the canes, they’ll go to the landfill and not back into your compost pile where they may eventually infect yours or someone else’s roses.

Water at the base. Many automated watering methods, like sprinklers, tend to wet the leaves without delivering water beyond the drip line – boundary created by the foliage extending over the plant’s central stem. It’s within that drip line that the plant’s roots can take up water, and that’s where to direct your spray of water to be the most effective. Water the ground near the roots instead of soaking the bush with a spray from above.

Water in the morning. Evening watering schedules promote mold and fungus, including black spot. That’s because moisture and darkness make ideal conditions for these microorganisms to grow on plants. Morning watering gives the sun’s rays a chance to dry splashes of water on the leaves. Switch your watering schedule to the morning instead evening.

Clean and sterilize your tools. It’s a good idea to clean your pruners every time you use them. Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol near your pruners and a clean rag — just wipe the blades with alcohol before putting them away. Dip or rub the blades in alcohol before using them on another plant, too. When you prune your roses, you create an open wound through which infection can enter the canes. Alcohol kills bacteria, mold and fungi.

Plant roses in full sun. Roses don’t do particularly well in shade. Partial shade, especially morning shade, keeps dew on the leaves just long enough to provide the conditions that black spot loves. Grow roses in full sunlight only.

Changing your gardening practices may not entirely prevent black spot, and they do not treat black spot if it’s already rampaging through your garden. What if you’re doing everything right, yet your roses still have black spot? It’s time to move on to step two in our list of steps to tackle black spot: Try natural remedies.

Step 2: Know the Remedies

Botanists have long searched for an effective, natural remedy for black spot on roses. Milk, a popular folk remedy, has been deemed ineffective by researchers at Washington State University. Although milk can be useful to help various foliar sprays stick to leaves, it may actually cause other diseases that can harm your roses.

So which natural cures do work for black spots on roses? A paper published in the Journal of Medicinally Active Plants lists the essential oils of English thyme and “Scotch” spearmint, two common plants, as potentially effective in the treatment of black spot disease.

The essential oils of these two garden herbs were tested against a control of fungicide and a second of water, and the results indicate that English thyme and “Scotch” spearmint both provided antifungal properties that lessened the severity of black spot lesions. Other herbal essential oil extracts were also tested, including that of sweet basil and holy basil, two other plants with alleged antifungal properties. Neither species of basil produced notable results.

Neem oil, produced by the Asian Neem tree, offers some relief of black spot. Neem has notable antifungal properties that seem to work well on roses. Neem oil is also useful against powdery mildew, which is another fungus roses tend to get.

Step 3: Commercial Black Spot Sprays

By far the most popular method of treating black spot on roses is through the use of conventional sprays. Sulfur compounds are effective at treating black spot. Safer® Brand Garden Fungicide uses sulfur as the active ingredient and is available in a convenient spray bottle or concentrate that can be mixed according to package directions for a foliar spray.

When using commercial fungicides in your garden, be sure to use only the recommended amount according to the label directions. More may not necessarily be better. Be sure to wash your hands and clothing after application, and dispose of the container according to the label on the package.

Step 4: Choose Roses Resistant to Black Spot

Rose growers should keep their eyes open for plants that aren’t susceptible to black spot. Disease-resistant roses should be grafted into hardy root stock to produce new plants with strong growth and resistance to common diseases. They may also breed new varieties of roses by crossing two kinds that are naturally disease resistant.

Thanks to the test of time and long-standing exposure to black spot, older rose varieties tend to have natural disease resistance. While many of these older roses have a different flower shape and petal configuration than what you may imagine when you hear the word “rose”, they often have a stronger fragrance, and they tend to be vigorous, healthy plants. It’s worth a try if you love roses but have trouble growing them due to black spot disease.

Keep in mind that roses may be resistant in one location, but not when planted in another. That’s because there are numerous strains of the black spot fungus. For example, a rose may be resistant in Oregon to one strain but susceptible to the strain living in Pennsylvania. Always try to purchase plants grown locally for your best chance at roses resistant to black spot.

Roses naturally resistant to black spot disease include:

  • The Carpet Rose®: Flower Carpet roses are easy to care for and low-water tolerant. They have won numerous awards for their disease resistance, including Germany’s strict ADR awards where no chemicals are allowed to be used in the trials.
  • Drift Roses: These ground cover roses only grow a little over a foot high and don’t require pruning. The Coral Drift and Sweet Drift varieties are fragrant.
  • Floribunda Roses: Floribunda roses are a shrubby type of rose bush that produces copious sprays of small, rose-shaped flowers. Most shrub roses or Floribunda roses are hardy and disease resistant. Some are also resistant to rust and other fungal diseases in addition to being resistant to black spot.
  • Meilland Hybrids: Originally grown in the south of France, Meilland hybrids are now available worldwide and are cultivated for disease resistance.
  • Knock Out Roses®: These are a new rose hybrid produced by Star Roses and Plants. Available at nursery and garden centers nationwide, they are said to offer better disease resistance than similar plants.

Among the hybrid tea roses, several older varieties offer black spot resistance. These include Mr. Lincoln — a classic red tea rose — Tropicana — an orange variety — and Miss All American Beauty — a pink rose.

You can find black spot-resistant rose varieties from among all types of roses including climbing roses, miniature roses and more. With over 50 strains of black spot fungi identified, not all roses are resistant to each strain. Strains are found locally, so roses known to be black spot-resistant in local gardens are likely the best ones to plant in your garden for disease resistance.

Black Spot Blues? Don’t Despair

Many roses naturally survive an outbreak of black spot. The earlier you begin treating your roses for black spot the better chances it has at recovering.

One rose, the Hildesheim climbing rose, has been verified by scientists to be over 1,000 years old. If a rose can survive 1,000 years of exposure to black spot and other diseases, maybe your rose can survive, too.

Rose Rust

Yellow spots on upper leaf surfaces with corresponding powdery, orange to black spots on lower leaf surfaces are typical of rose

Robyn Roberts, UW-Madison Plant Pathology
Revised: 6/8/2013
Item number: XHT1217

What is rose rust? Rose rust is a common fungal disease found in much of North America (including the continental United States) and Europe. Rose rust affects many varieties of rose, though some varieties (e.g., hybrids) are more prone to the disease. Rose rust has been a perennial problem along the Pacific Coast of the United States where mild temperatures and high moisture are favorable for rust development. In the Midwest, extremes in winter and summer temperatures have tended to be less favorable for the disease. However, recent climate changes in the Midwest may lead to rose rust becoming more commonplace in the future.

What does rose rust look like? Rose rust often first appears on lower leaves, but eventually an entire plant can be affected. Typical symptoms include general yellowing of leaves followed by eventual leaf death. Affected rose stems (i.e., canes) can become curled and distorted. As the disease progresses, powdery orange or black, circular spots (called pustules) containing spores of the fungus that causes the disease form on the undersides of leaves, with corresponding yellow spots visible on upper leaf surfaces. Pustules may also form on stems and green flower parts (sepals). Rose rust usually develops in the spring and fall (when favorable mild temperatures and wet conditions are more common), but the disease can affect roses during the summer months as well.

Where does rose rust come from? Rose rust is caused by several species of fungi in the genus Phragmidium. These fungi specifically infect roses. Rose rust is often introduced into a garden on infected shrubs purchased from a nursery or other rose supplier. Once introduced into a garden, rose rust fungi can overwinter in rose leaf debris, as well as on infected rose canes. In the spring, spores produced in debris and on canes can blow to newly emerging rose foliage, leading to new infections.

How do I save a plant with rose rust? Control of rose rust is difficult once symptoms develop. Prune out affected canes and remove leaves as symptoms develop to prevent the spread of rust fungi to other rose shrubs. Destroy these materials by burning (where allowed by local ordinances) or burying them. In the fall, remove and destroy any remaining dead leaves and other rose debris to eliminate places where rose rust fungi can overwinter. If you notice a rust problem very early (before there are many symptoms), fungicide treatments may be useful for managing the disease; however, most fungicides work best when applied before any symptoms appear. If you decide to use fungicides for rust control, select products that are labeled for use on roses and that contains the active ingredients triforine or myclobutanil. Treat every seven to 10 days, and DO NOT use the same active ingredient for all treatments. Instead, alternate use of the two active ingredients listed above to help minimize potential problems with fungicide-resistant strains of rose rust fungi. Be sure to read and follow all label instructions of the fungicides that you select to ensure that you use these products in the safest and most effective manner possible.

How do I avoid problems with rose rust in the future? Whenever possible, plant rose varieties that are less susceptible to rose rust (i.e., avoid hybrid varieties). Always inspect new rose shrubs for rose rust (and other diseases) prior to purchase. DO NOT bring diseased shrubs into your garden. Plant rose shrubs far enough apart so that their foliage does not overlap, and thin your roses on a regular basis. Proper planting and pruning promote good air circulation that will facilitate rapid drying of leaves and canes, thus making the environment less favorable for rust development. Avoid working with your roses when they are wet as you are more likely to spread rust spores under these conditions. Fertilize and water roses appropriately. Well-cared-for plants tend to be less susceptible to disease. When watering, apply water at the base of your shrubs (e.g., with a soaker or drip hose) rather than over the leaves (e.g., with a sprinkler). Watering with a sprinkler tends to spread rust spores and wets leaves and canes, thus providing a more favorable environment for rust infections to occur.


Tags: disease, rust Categories: Tree & Shrub Problems, Trees & Shrubs

Black Spot – Roses

Back to Yellowing-Browning of Leaves – Annuals, Bulbs, Groundcovers, Perennials, Vines

Black spot on rose

Black spot (blackspot) is the most important fungal disease of roses worldwide. The initial symptoms start as feathery-edged, black spots on lower leaves. As these spots enlarge, the leaves turn yellow and drop off. The disease continues up the stems until the entire plant becomes defoliated. Stem lesions are less obvious but start as dark, irregular blotches that eventually become blistered. Stem lesions are the most important source of fungal spores for initiation of the infection cycle next season.

The disease is caused by the fungal pathogen Diplocarpon rosae. Leaves are most susceptible when young and must usually be moist overnight before infection can occur. The disease can be spread by rain, dew, irrigation, people, insects, and transport of infected plants. The fungus cannot live in the soil or last on pruning tools for longer than a month. Black spot spores can survive in fallen leaves and stem lesions over the winter and will remain active year round on the plant in mild climates.

Management strategies

Black spot is a serious disease problem for rose growers in Maryland. Sanitation is critical for black spot management. Removal of fallen leaves and pruning infected canes will dramatically slow initial spring infections. Good air circulation will reduce the incidence of black spot by promoting faster drying of leaf surfaces. Restrict irrigation during cloudy, humid weather. Rose cultivars resistant to black spot are increasingly more available, but resistance can be regionally variable. Most people will need to use labeled fungicide sprays every 7-14 days as the first leaves emerge in the spring through the fall for adequate control of this disease. It is best to spray before a rain event and to alternate types of fungicides.

William Radler Develops Hybrids That Are Knockouts
From the July 9, 2006 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It is hard to imagine a garden without roses. Their captivating beauty and lore are entwined in the hearts and minds of gardeners everywhere.

So strong is the connection to this flower that gardeners would often spend more time and effort growing their roses than any other flower.

But today, in large part because of one local man’s lifetime work, we can enjoy the beauty of roses with little of the effort once required.

William Radler is responsible for many of the easy-to-grow new roses that are extremely disease-resistant, drought-tolerant and ever-blooming.

In 2000, the All America Rose Selections committee named Radler’s original red Knock Out® shrub rose as one of its winners and it quickly became the best-selling new rose on the market. Last year alone, some 3 ½ million Knock Out were sold, a total only this rose can claim.

Radler’s Pink and Blushing Pink (a paler version) Knock Out® roses followed to equal acclaim. And Radler’s Rainbow Knock Out® was just named an All America Rose Selections winner for 2007 and will be available next year.

Radler spent his earliest years living with his family at 7th and Burleigh streets in Milwaukee.

They were living in Whitefish Bay when he bought his first rose at a local A & P store with money he saved from his allowance when he was 9.

His parents warned him that the plant would not survive the winter.

Radler was confident it would, and the following year the plant thrived.

From this early fascination, he developed a lifelong passion to develop and improve upon the rose.

He went on to earn a degree in landscape architecture and served as the director of Boerner Botanic Gardens, all the while working on breeding roses as a hobby.

Hundreds of Roses

He now is a full-time rose breeder.

His 1 ½ acre lot in Greenfield with its hundreds of rose bushes is his laboratory.

In 1992, when he moved to his current home and garden, it was the yard and not the house that drew him to the property. He calls it the Rosarium.

His basement is a facility for developing new roses and an incubation area for seedlings waiting for evaluation and possible inclusion in the outdoor Rosarium.

These roses are tested and evaluated for disease resistance, repeat blooming, winter hardiness, resistance to insects and many other desired qualities.

“I keep on selecting the best and continue crossing and crossing,” he says. “There are five hundred or more rose seedlings in the basement at any given time.”

What does he look for in a rose seedling?

The three most important characteristics at this early stage are breaking, habit and flower.

Breaking is how, when and where the plant naturally sends out additional shoots from the main stem.

Habit is the overall growth pattern of the plant (dense and bushy, or tall and spindly, for example).

Flowers are rated on color, size, petal count and fragrance, among other things.

Initial evaluation is critical, but some characteristics will change once the plant is grown outdoors.

Developing a rose, even for someone with a horticultural background, is not an easy task.

It takes a rare individual with the skills to recognize what he is looking at, and someone with an enormous amount of patience.

At its introduction, Knock Out® set the standard for Black Spot resistance and repeat bloom.

This beauty has single, bright flowers all season that seemingly float above dark green, lustrous and disease-free foliage.

Knock Out is winter hardy, and is self-cleaning (no dead flower removal is necessary). Its path to market was long and painstaking for Radler.

“The very first crosses I made were in the 1970s,” he says. “Knock Out® first saw the light of day in 1989. Knock Out® was the only seed in a hip from a reluctant female.”

It can take years to get the right crosses, and there are so many factors including weather, temperature, viability of seeds and genetic unpredictability that can impede the quest for the perfect rose.

Making it disease-free

To ensure disease resistance, the roses in the Rosarium are inoculated with disease pathogens.

“I encourage disease on the property,” says Radler.

Infected leaves are dried and ground in a blender then spread on the healthy plants when the leaves are wet.

Overhead watering during the growing season guarantees the spread of disease. Resistant plants are easily observed and documented, then used in future crosses.

“In the fall of the year disease and insects are at their peak. Does a rose still look great? It has to look good. That’s what people are looking for,” he says.

The plants are further tested and analyzed by the companies responsible for propagation and commercial sales, such as Conard-Pyle Company/Star, the company testing and producing of many of Radler’s introductions.

This year’s introduction is Bright Eyes. It is an upright, pillar-type shrub rose that also can act as a medium sized climber, suitable for smaller gardens.

Its flowers are a delicious salmon-pink with a lighter central eye. In addition to superior hardiness and disease resistance, Bright Eyes is a repeat bloomer and has a lemon-spicy aroma.

Other recent introductions besides those in the Knock Out® series include Carefree Sunshine, and Ramblin’ Red. Some of the roses credited to Radler actually are mutations of his roses.

And what does Radler say of his success?

“I’m overwhelmed,” he says. “I can’t believe this has really happened to me. What started as a hobby for me has resulted in what has been called the most sought-after rose in the country. I’m beyond proud.

“But what’s truly wonderful is that something that has brought such joy to me has also helped gardeners who never thought they could grow roses.”

Radler’s Roses

A chronology of Radler rose introductions:

2000 – Knock Out® (red) is introduced
2001 – Carefree Sunshine (yellow shrub rose)
2002 – Ramblin’ Red climber rose
2004 – Blushing Knock Out® (pale pink), Pink Knock Out (truer pink)
2005 – Double Knock Out® Knock Out (red with more petals), Lemon Meringue (yellow climber)
2006 – Climbing Carefree Sunshine (a mutation that blooms prolifically), Bright Eyes (a climber that is pink with yellow at the petal base and a strong lemony scent)
2007 – Rainbow Knock Out® (pink with a yellow center that blooms and blooms)

Tags For This Article: history, knock out rose, roses

Disease Control For Roses, Flowers & Shrubs

It is important to remember that consistency of application is essential for maximum control of any plant disease. Also, be sure to remove and destroy all infected leaves and severely infected limbs to ensure prevention of spreading.
Dilution Rate: Add 3/4 fl. oz. (1 1/2 Tbl.) Disease Control for Roses, Flowers & Shrubs to 1 gallon of water.

Controls: Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust
To prevent diseases: Apply every 7 to 14 days during the growing season, starting when leaves first appear.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

Controls: Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust, Southern Blight
To prevent diseases: Apply at least three times per year, 7 to 14 days apart, beginning with the spring bud break.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

Controls: Anthracnose, Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust, Scab
To prevent diseases: Apply at least three times per year, 7 to 14 days apart, beginning with the spring bud break.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

Controls: Anthracnose, Black Spot, Leaf Spot, Petal Blight, Powdery Mildew, Rust, Southern Blight
To prevent diseases: Apply at least three times per year, 7 to 14 days apart, beginning with the spring bud break.
To prevent Petal Blight: Apply 2 to 3 times per week into the flowers as they open and develop color.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

Controls: Anthracnose, Black Spot, Leaf Spot, Petal Blight, Powdery Mildew, Rust, Southern Blight
To prevent diseases: Apply at least three times per year, 7 to 14 days apart, beginning with the spring bud break.
To prevent Petal Blight: Apply 2 to 3 times per week into the flowers as they open and develop color.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

Controls: Leaf Spot, Powdery Mildew
To prevent diseases: Apply at least 3 times per year, 7 to 14 days apart.
To treat existing disease: Apply every 7 to 14 days for a total of three applications, beginning at the first sign of disease.

1 Move indoor houseplants outside before treating.

Preventing Rose Diseases

It’s no surprise that roses are among the most popular ornamental garden plants: they’re beautiful, fragrant, and easy to grow in most climates. However, many popular roses are also susceptible to three fungal diseases, whose names black spot, mildew, and rust are descriptive of their appearance on rose leaves. Here are steps to follow to keep the plants healthy and vigorous.

Tools and Materials

  • Pruners
  • Rose gloves
  • Rose fertilizer
  • Preventive sprays such as horticultural oil and lime sulfur
  • Drip irrigation (optional)

Plant disease-resistant varieties. Some roses are very susceptible to these fungal diseases, others are virtually immune, and many fall somewhere between. So the first line of defense is to select only disease-resistant varieties. Many rose reference books, catalogs, and Web sites include this information.

Grow healthy plants. Plant roses in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Soil pH is ideally between 5.8 and 6.2. If the pH is lower, add limestone. If it’s higher, add sulfur. Space plants about 3 feet apart to allow good air circulation, and mulch roots in summer to help maintain even soil moisture and to prevent competition from weeds.

Water regularly. Generally, you want water to reach everywhere within the plant’s root zone, which may be as deep as 18 inches and as wide as the crown of the plant. Get to know your soil and how water penetrates and travels within it. If the soil around your roses is dry to a depth of 4 inches, you should definitely water, but it’s best not to let it get that dry.

Water roots, not leaves. Wet leaves encourage some fungi, so avoid wetting them unless you are washing off dust or aphid infestations with a hose. Drip irrigation is better for watering roses than sprinklers.

Fertilize correctly. Rose plants that are either under- or overfed will be more susceptible to problems. One simple method is to buy a fertilizer packaged for roses and to follow the label directions.

Prune correctly. Different kinds of roses need different kinds of pruning. Most 3- to 5-foot-tall rose plants need to one annual pruning in early spring. At that time, remove any dead branches or twigs, as well as branches that crowd the center of the plant. Prune so that the pruned plant has a V or vase shape.

Inspect leaves. Visit roses regularly and check leaves for signs of disease. It’s best to wait until the leaves are dry, midmorning through afternoon, since we can unwittingly spread diseases by touching wet plants. If you notice signs of disease, remove affected leaves and apply a preventive spray as directed on product label.

Use preventive maintenance. In the fall, remove all fallen leaves on the ground below the plants, and dispose of them. In late winter or early spring, prune plants and apply horticultural oil to smother disease organisms that may have overwintered on branches. Spread a fresh layer of mulch to cover any disease spores that might be on the surface of the old mulch.

Common Rose Diseases. Roses are so popular and widespread that many sprays are available to control their diseases. Here are common-sense remedies that you can start with:

Black spot causes black spots on leaves and stems. Remove all winter prunings, a common source of reinfection. In early spring before growth begins, spray a combination of dormant oil and lime sulfur.

Powdery mildew causes a grayish white fuzz on new leaves and flower buds. It spreads on dry leaves, usually during periods of low rainfall and warm, humid nights. Use a spray containing potassium bicarbonate, basically baking soda but in a form that is more plant friendly.

Another kind of mildew, downy mildew, causes round, dark purple spots with yellow edges. It’s more serious than powdery mildew but less common. It needs moisture to spread, so control it by watering only in early morning.

Rust causes rust-colored spots on leaf undersides and is most common during periods of warm days and cool nights. As for black spot, remove winter prunings and spray dormant oil combined with lime sulfur.


Where you live makes a difference when it comes to rose problems. A variety that is disease resistant in one location may be disease prone in another, so choose accordingly.

Make your own powdery mildew spray by combining 3 teaspoons baking soda with 2 tablespoons highly refined summer oil and 1 gallon of water. Spray every 10 days to two weeks.

Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening Association

“Help Me Find Roses” The single greatest rose resource we have – and need to support.

Looking for a rose such as the newly released ‘Loretta Lynn Van Lear’ named for the famed country singer? Help Me Find Roses is the place to go!
Photo/Illustration: Brad JalbertLooking for a rose such as the newly released ‘Loretta Lynn Van Lear’ named for the famed country singer? Help Me Find Roses is the place to go!
Photo/Illustration: Brad Jalbert

Since we are talking about different ways of buying roses I thought it the perfect time to introduce you to one of the greatest rose and gardening resources we have. It’s a website called:

Help Me Find Roses, Clematis and Peonies
and everything gardening related.

If you are not familiar with this website you need to be. As per above they also are a resource for information on clematis and peonies, but since this a rose column I’m going to focus on what they offer regarding roses.

For starters this should knock your socks off. Their website currently catalogues over 41,000 roses and has more than 130,000 photographs of same roses. Toss in thousands of Rose nurseries, public and private gardens, Rose societies, authors, breeders, hybridizers and publications from all over the world and you have simply the greatest rose resource I know of and have ever seen.

In terms of buying roses here is just one way it can work for you. Say you are looking for a specific rose and don’t know where to purchase it and/or would like some more information. Simply click on “Search/Lookup” in the left hand column and a box comes up where you can type part or all of the name of the rose. Click on search and up comes either the rose or the ones that are closest to what you are looking for. Then click on the one you want.

You are first taken to a “description” page with photos of the rose, eventual size, is (or isn’t it) disease resistant, hardiness zone information and a whole host of other things you might want to know.

Then along the top of this “description” page are tabs. Click on them to see more photos, awards, and references in published material. But three of these tabs are particularly useful.

“Member Ratings”. This is exactly what it sounds like. Other gardeners are continually rating the rose on characteristics such as bloom color, bloom frequency, fragrance, vigor, cold hardiness, disease resistance, shade tolerance and the list goes on. This gives you tremendous insight into what other gardeners feel about this rose when grown in their own garden – much like you will grow it in yours.

“Member Comments”. This area gives members the chance to expand on their ratings with comments on how well, or poorly, the rose does in their area. And here is one the best parts; click on the members name and you can see what area and what hardiness zone they live in! This means you can possibly find comments on the rose from people growing it under conditions similar to yours. What can be better than that!

“Buy From”. This is where Help Me Find really gets powerful. Rose nurseries from around the world regularly upload their rose availability list to Help Me Find. So under this tab are listed rose nurseries currently offering this rose for sale anywhere in the world. And then there are links to many of their websites plus information on how to get in touch with them to order. When I ran my former rose nursery I always made sure this list was up to date and I know almost all rose nurseries do the same.

There are more areas of Help Me Find I know you’ll find interesting and I’m going to talk about them in future posts, but before I close this one there is something you need to know and something I want you to think about doing.

First know this. Help Me Find accepts no advertising. They want this to be commercial free and unbiased. Therefore they help offset the cost of the site via donations and/or people joining for a year via their premium membership. A premium membership that costs only $24 a year and opens up whole other areas of the site. Heck, that’s less than a magazine subscription! Click on “Donations” towards the top of the left hand column for more information.

So please check the site out and have a blast. But also take a moment to donate and/or join. This is an amazing resource for lovers of gardening but without our support….

I shudder to think about it.

Happy Roseing

How can you uncover your best self? Start by judging other people — really


Social scientists Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas (of the Harvard Graduate School of Education) study dark horses: the people who triumph against the odds, the winners nobody saw coming.

A dark horse can be an opera singer or a dog trainer, a hairstylist or a diplomat … or a sommelier, carpenter, puppeteer, architect, embalmer, chess grandmaster, midwife, art conservator, astronomer, landscape architect. (These are just some of the people that Rose and Ogas have interviewed as part of their Dark Horse project.) “The personalities of dark horses are just as diverse and unpredictable as you would find in any random sampling of human beings,” write Rose and Ogas. However, “there is a common thread that binds them all together: dark horses are fulfilled.”

So, how do you start finding fulfillment for yourself? In their work, Rose and Ogas have identified four critical elements of fulfillment — including a fascinating factor that they call micro-motives. And this small but mighty trait could be the clue to your best self. Here’s how you can find yours.

Your motives comprise the emotional core of your individuality. What you desire — and what you do not desire — defines who you are in a unique and deeply personal manner. When you do activities that match up with your true motives, your journey will be compelling and satisfying. But if you misjudge or ignore your motives, your progress will be plodding and dreary, or you may abandon the road altogether.

It’s essential to know exactly what puts the wind in your sails — not what someone else thinks should get you going. That’s why knowing your micro-motives is a crucial element of the dark horse mindset. Just ask Saul Shapiro.

When Saul encounters a wobbly wheel on a shopping cart or a tilted picture frame, his mind is drawn to manipulate the components until they are square and right.

Saul has a seemingly unusual micro-motive: he likes aligning physical objects with his hands. When he encounters something awry, like a wobbly wheel on a shopping cart or a tilted picture frame, his mind is drawn by an invisible pulley to manipulate the components until they are square and right. You will not find the urge to align things on any list of universal motives, yet for Saul, this desire is genuine, potent and deeply personal.

One of Saul’s most fulfilling memories from college was when a design professor instructed the class to carve a sphere out of a block of wood by hand. Saul became obsessed. After chiseling a rough sphere, he placed it in a bag that he carried wherever he went. All day long, he put his hand inside the bag to feel for uneven spots, then used sandpaper to smooth them. The act of eliminating imperfections filled him with gratification. When Saul turned in the sphere, it was so perfect that his teacher refused to believe he hadn’t used machine tools.

You might be thinking, that’s nice … but what profession could harness this micro-motive? One possibility is orthodontics, where the central task is aligning people’s teeth. Another possibility is electrical engineering, which is what Saul chose. He was hired as an engineer to tackle a tough technical problem: creating a physical interface that would convert an electrical signal on an old-style copper wire onto a laser signal on a newly invented fiber-optic cable. It required precisely aligning a semiconductor chip the size of a grain of sand with a fiber the width of a human hair, and the alignment had to be precise within a fraction of a micron.

Saul ended up being successful, and his interface was widely adopted throughout the telecommunications industry. It also made his employer a fortune, while Saul received only a small bonus. This disparity led him to question his role. “I would see guys with MBAs making presentations, and they were making much more money than me and getting to run the company, too,” he says. “I started to think to myself, Maybe I should be one of those guys.”

So he abandoned a fulfilling engineering career and moved into middle management. But his collection of micro-motives was not compatible with his new role; he did not enjoy supervising others and he was not interested in networking, presenting his ideas to others, or persuading them of his point of view. His most potent micro-motives — working with his hands, tinkering with gadgets and mechanisms, doing math calculations, working alone, and aligning objects — were largely neglected as a manager.

At the age of 53, Saul was working part-time at H&R Block doing people’s taxes for $10 an hour.

Saul spent the next 16 years going through ups and downs — but mostly downs — as a middle manager at media and tech organizations. By his late forties, he could no longer get hired yet he couldn’t return to his previous career because his engineering knowledge had become outdated. At the age of 53, he was working part-time at H&R Block doing people’s taxes for $10 an hour. Not only was he unfulfilled, he was not making much money, the reason he had switched careers in the first place.

One thing that still meant a lot to him was being his own boss. Since he didn’t want to start a business from scratch, he met with a franchise broker who told him about affordable franchises — such as employment agencies and elder-care agencies — that were available to purchase in New York City.

One surprising franchise caught Saul’s eye: upholstery repair. Even though he had no experience with it, he recognized that success depends on one’s ability to align fabrics and patches, a process he knew he’d enjoy. He’d be able to use his hands and immediately see the fruits of his labor. He could do jobs from home so he wouldn’t have to own a shop, and he could work by himself so he wouldn’t need to oversee employees.

In 2013, Saul opened an upholstery-repair franchise in Manhattan. He mastered the trade, and now he does repairs for Broadway shows, TV personalities and Times Square hotels. “People who know me best would agree that I’m happier now than with anything else I have done with my career,” he says. “I enjoy what I do almost every day and I’m financially secure. In the end, I figured out how to align my livelihood to my nature.”

Saul discovered his micro-motives by enduring years of jobs that didn’t suit him. For better or worse, most of us won’t have such trials to inform us. Fortunately, you can take advantage of an instinctive activity that you perform every day to grab hold of the micro-motives buried inside you and hold them up to the light. We call it “the game of judgment.”

Your goal in playing the game of judgment is to use your instinctive reactions to others to zero in on these live wires and attempt to trace them to their source.

How many times over the past week have you judged someone — a colleague, a talking head on cable TV, a stranger in the checkout line? Well, you’re going to use these unfiltered reactions to learn something about you. Your micro-motives are composed of deeply rooted feelings, which include subtle preferences, frank desires and private longings. Your goal in playing the game of judgment is to use your instinctive reactions to others to zero in on these live wires and attempt to trace them to their source.

There are three steps to the game of judgment. First, become aware of the moments when you’re judging someone. We all do this all the time. It’s human nature to react to others, whether it’s a mail carrier, police officer, massage therapist, neighbor, store clerk or someone on a magazine cover. Develop an awareness of when you’re doing it, so you can consciously attend to your reaction.

Second, identify the feelings that emerge as you judge someone. How do you know when you’re on the scent of a micro-motive? When you have a vivid reaction. It doesn’t matter whether it’s positive or negative, celebratory or condemnatory, the feeling just needs to be strong. Remember, you’re trying to get in touch with your authentic emotional core.

Third, ask yourself why you are experiencing those feelings. Remember: be honest. The physicist Richard Feynman said it best when he warned, “You must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” Focus on what you would like if you had their life … but also what you would hate. For instance, if you watch a celebrity interview and find yourself thinking, “How can anyone be truly happy when they are chasing riches or fame?” then you know that money and acclaim are probably not powerful motivators for you.

On the other hand, if you reacted to the story of Saul Shapiro by thinking, “Come on . . . the guy’s an upholstery repairman. Let’s not pretend he’s successful!”– you’ve learned something valuable about your micr0-motives. Status and acclaim matter greatly to you. That’s fine; own it. To attain fulfillment, you must be true to what lights your fire — whatever that may be.

When you’re judging a debt collector, try to determine which gets your heart thumping faster: the process of tracking down deadbeats, or the act of making them pay?

The most difficult part is resisting the sense that there are some motives we should be driven by — such as money, or helping other people. This can cause us to suppress or downplay our own micro-motives. The game of judgment can help you break the spell, as long as you are attentive and specific. If you are favorably judging a park ranger, you may initially think, “Being outside and around nature all day would be great.” Or, judging a debt collector, your reaction might be, “Oh boy, I’d love tracking down deadbeats and forcing them to pay up.”

Don’t stop there. Keep sifting through your feelings until you’ve gone as far as you can. For example, with the park ranger, you might also realize, “Even though being outside would be great, it does seem like a lonely job. I don’t think I could handle the daily isolation.” Now you’ve identified two potential micro-motives: the desire to be around nature and the desire for steady social engagement.

Or, when judging the debt collector, try to determine which gets your heart thumping faster: is it the process of tracking down deadbeats, or the act of making them pay? Is there something about catching people who are trying to avoid being caught that energizes you? Or is it something about being an agent of fair play and administering justice when nobody else can? When it comes to knowing your micro-motives, the details always matter.

Keep in mind, the purpose of the game of judgment isn’t to coolly assess the merits and deficiencies of other people. It’s not about them at all. The goal is to use your intense emotional responses to ferret out the hidden contours of your own desires. You’re both the player and referee in the game of judgment, and only you can know for sure when you’ve traced one of your micro-motives to its fullest depth.

The game of judgment can take some time to get the hang of, but it’s far more reliable and effective than standardized tests of motivation. There are hundreds of career tests that employers and guidance counselors use to evaluate the motives of employees and students each year. Despite what their creators may insist, these tests are not designed to help you identify your unique pattern of motivations, but rather to determine how closely your responses resemble those of the “average professional” in a given field.

Standardized assessments of motivation are doomed to misinterpret or ignore one of the most important facets of your micro-motives: the presence of contradictory motives, such as the desire to interact with other people and the desire to be alone, or the desire to conform and the desire to rebel. When you are committed to embracing the diversity of your micro-motives, the most antithetical of them can be reconciled, harnessed and consolidated into a unified sense of purpose.

Excerpted from the new book Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment by Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas. Reprinted with permission from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2018 by Todd Rose and Ogi Ogas.

Watch Todd Rose’s TEDxSonoma talk here:

About the authors

Todd Rose is the director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he leads the Laboratory for the Science of Individuality. He is also the cofounder of Populace, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming how people, learn, work and live. He is the author of the best-selling book “The End of Average.”

Ogi Ogas is the director of the Dark Horse Project in the Laboratory for the Science of Individuality at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Make Home Remedies for Pests and Diseases

If you are losing the battle with bugs and disease, try these environmentally friendly alternatives to pesticides. Many problems can be managed with cultural controls before they get out of hand (like pruning off infected leaves or physically removing pests), but sometimes you need more – especially during cool, wet weather.

Natural solutions require more frequent application to achieve control, but do not pose significant health risks like traditional chemicals. As an added benefit, they are generally inexpensive to prepare. Don’t forget to spray the underside of leaves as well as the upper surface during application.

Aphids, Mites, Scale & Whiteflies

Aphids reproduce rapidly and like tender new growth

Spider Mites are found on the undersides of leaves and may cause stippling damage

  • Orange Oil Cleaner – Dilute 1 teaspoon per gallon of water. Use as needed by spraying on leaves. Good coverage is important: Wet leaf surfaces to the point of drip.
  • Soap Spray – Mix ½ teaspoon mild dish soap and 1 teaspoon cooking oil in a 1-quart sprayer filled with water. Spray liberally over entire plant.
  • Bring in Ladybugs – To keep aphids in check, release ladybugs on the affected plant. They will stay as long as there is shelter and host bugs to feed on.
  • Blast with Water – Aphids may also be dislodged by a strong jet of water.

Slugs & Snails

Slug damage on rose leaves

  • Beer – Pour an inch of beer into the bottom of an empty tuna or cat food can. Set it in the garden. Slugs and snails, attracted to the yeast in beer, crawl in and drown.
  • Handpick – Collect at night and remove from the garden area.
  • Coarse Sand, ¼”-minus Gravel, or Hazelnut Shells – Apply sand or gravel in trails around roses, or topdress beds with crushed hazelnut shells. Slugs and snails prefer not to cross abrasive surfaces.

Powdery Mildews, Blackspot & Rusts

Black spot spreads by rain or overhead watering and may cause leaf drop if untreated

  • Baking Soda Spray – Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cooking oil in 1 gallon of water. Place in spray bottle or tank sprayer and apply liberally. Repeat as needed.
  • Sanitation – Remove infected leaves and destroy. Do not compost. Keep the ground surrounding your roses free of leaf debris and weeds.
  • Cold Water – For Powdery Mildew, spray affected leaves with cold water early in the morning and allow leaves to dry in the sun.

Yellow Leaves

  • Leaves fall when tapped = Too much water.
  • Leaves stay on when tapped = Too dry.
  • Crunchy leaves = Too dry and too late to save. Cut back as needed to promote regrowth.
  • Exceptions: Some rose leaves turn yellow in the fall. This is normal coloration.

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