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Growing roses – rose diseases
Are your roses martyrs to disease? Are their leaves covered with black spots or a white overcoat of powdery mildew? Well, I’ll come clean and put my hand up on both counts. Much depends on the time of year and whether it’s wet or dry – but, most years, even some varieties that claim to be disease resistant can show signs of disease.
I wish I’d thought more carefully before buying eight standard ‘Bonica’ roses a few years ago. By mid-summer, the older leaves have usually developed orange rust pustules on yellowing leaves. Rose rust doesn’t kill roses, but it does take the edge off an otherwise glorious display.
And this is where I’m pulled in two opposing directions. Do I maintain health and vigour, and spray regularly with fungicides to keep my roses disease-free, or leave alone and put up with some infection? I’m not one of the old school, who sprays regularly, regardless of season just to create a perfect display. I garden with the absolute minimum use of artificial chemicals, probably like most people today I would think.
Chemicals cost money, are time consuming to apply, and must be used carefully and sensitively. If my roses can flourish without them then so much the better in my book.
When buying roses, it’s a good idea to choose varieties which have been bred to resist disease, but some of us inherit old varieties, or just grow roses we fall in love with for their colour or fragrance, without considering their health status.
If that sounds like you then you have a choice: leave things to chance, or pick up the pressure sprayer. Today I fall into the former category, but a devastating disease year may persuade me that preventive action would be better in future. And this means using a suitable rose fungicide regularly from early in the year to prevent disease. Once blackspot, mildew and rust symptoms are present it’s really too late to start spraying. As a rule of thumb, prevention is better than cure.
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