Sustainable Living

Roses and Insects – Nothing is Ever Perfect!

Your rose garden is looking great. Good for you. Now you plan to sit back, relax, and enjoy the soon to be unleashed bouquet of color. Ahhh… if only it was that simple.

Unfortunately, while the new growth on your bushes shows the promise of developing flower buds and a forthcoming feast for your eyes, there are visitors in your garden who see that abundance of new growth as a true feast.

Roses with a vibrant color fueled by coffee grounds

The first to make their presence felt each year are Aphids.

These small insects, about a 1/4″ long and an 1/8″ wide, show up gathered at the top of the new and tender rose bush growth. They are usually a semi-translucent shade of yellow or pale green. All have one purpose – to suck the juice from your roses.

Aphids have a strange reproductive process and the ones that show up first in your garden are from eggs laid the previous late autumn.

Although they look unsightly on your bushes, there are several rather simple ways to eliminate them.

The most simple is to blast them off your rose stems with the garden hose and a good stream of water. Choosing this method usually requires a repeat performance at least every other day.

If you have a good ladybug population around your garden you may never see a sign of aphids. Some gardeners even introduce a new horde of ladybugs each year to control these insects.

Chemical Based Sprays

If you have an aversion to unleashing chemicals into your garden, there are several products for controlling garden insects that are composed of natural organic based ingredients.

There is certainly an array of chemical based sprays usually applied with a garden hose sprayer, that will efficiently remove these insect pests.

In fact these sprays will eliminate most rose garden insects, such as thrips or leafcutting bees. Although damage from the bees is minimal, they can leave an unsightly bite from the edge of a leaf.

That’s unsettling if it’s on a rose stem you had your eye on for exhibiting. The most efficient of the chemical sprays on the market work as a systemic spray. These are absorbed into the rose bush and act as a deterrent to insects over many days. This is the type I have had the most success with.

Using a systemic spray, you can set up a defense against insects before they appear. Areas differ of course, but around the lower Great Lakes you should be applying a defensive systemic spray around the end of the first week of June. Repeat the spraying process every 10 days throughout the growing season and you should be bug free.

One other suggestion! Ensure your roses are adequately watered the day before you apply any spray. This lessens the chance of the leaves being burned by the spray.

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