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GardenSMART :: August In The Rose Beds - Heartache and Joy

August In The Rose Beds – Heartache & Joy

By Stan V. Griep

August in the rose beds is time to keep an eye on soil moisture for sure and also time to give the roses their last granular feeding of the season. This month I need to bring up a rose lover’s heartache and then take a look at something joyful.

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The Heartache is a nasty incurable virus called Rose Rosette Virus/Disease. When I first heard about this heartbreaking disease, it was thought to be spread by dirty pruners. So we became very careful to wipe our pruners down with some Clorox wipes after pruning each rose before we moved on to prune the next one. Or we dipped the cutting blades into a bleach solution. Still not a bad practice, but as time and study have progressed this nasty virus is believed to be spread by a very tiny mite. The eriophyid mite or leaf curl mite, in fact. One of the chemical controls for this nasty little mite is a miticide called Avid. Remember that the use of typical insecticides does no good against mites and can actually help increase their numbers by killing off all of their natural predators allowing their colonies to boom forth! A miticide must be used for the control of mites.

To truly recognize Rose Rosette Virus look for these signs of it on your roses:

  • Increased growth/rapid elongation of new cane/stem growth
  • Abnormal red discoloration of new cane/stem growth and foliage
  • ‘Witches Broom’ (prolific clustering of small new cane/stem growth)
  • A spiraling pattern of cane growth
  • Shortening of the stem length between leaves
  • Distorted or dwarfed leaves
  • An overabundance of thorns
  • Mottled coloration of otherwise solid colored roses
  • Deformed buds and rose blooms/flares
  • Rosebushes with RRV have an increased susceptibility to other diseases, such as powdery mildew, black spot, rust or downy mildew
  • Infected rosebushes lose their vigor and have a lack of winter hardiness

It is important to note that the new and healthy growth on many rosebushes comes in as a nice deep red or maroon colored growth. This growth looks normal, is not twisted or distorted, and will turn green as it ages. Some new growth will keep a nice red or maroonish colored edge on the leaves too. Pruning off that growth thinking that one can avoid RRV is a mistake that has been made many times. By pruning the growth out, we have just eliminated nice new growth that would have lead to a new bloom or blooms. It also does no real good in preventing or eliminating the dreaded virus.

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The best thing to do when you know for certain that a rosebush or rosebushes are truly infected with RRV is to dig it/them out, being sure to get as much of the root matter out of the soils as possible, bagging the infected rosebushes and placing them in the trash immediately. It has been found that the virus can live in root matter left behind in the soils. Any new rose shoots growing up out of the ground where the diseased rosebushes were should be dug out and destroyed immediately. For more information on Rose Rosette Virus go to this website that is jam packed with good information:

After that info we need some garden joy right? How about some nice healthy “eye-catching” roses for your garden areas, you know, those roses that have a real wow factor of color and or size. Many shrub rosebushes will provide a nice eye-catching wow factor with their loads of blooms that nearly engulf the bush. Such as Austin English Shrub roses like Mary Rose, Graham Thomas, Golden Celebration or Crown Princess Margareta. The Home Run line of rosebushes from Weeks Roses and their rivals the Knockout Roses make a nice statement. My two favorites are Watercolors Home Run and Double Knockout.

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Roses with vivid and different colors would include Sriracha, a new floribunda rose with orangeish color, grafted to be a tree rose is true wow factor. Oranges N Lemons is a mix of orange and yellow and has foliage that glistens in the sun. Lavender Delight is a miniature rose that grows to be a good-sized bush with wonderful lavender colored blooms. Tiddly Winks is another miniature rosebush that is an eye-catcher as she loads up with her vibrant orange and yellow clusters of blooms. Stainless Steel is a nice hybrid tea rose whose bloom smiles are an “oh so pretty” light lavender color.

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There are white blooming rosebushes such as Glamis Castle, Crystalline, Pope John Paul II and White Lightnin’ that are very special in Moonlight Gardens. These eye-catching wow factor roses grab the attention, to draw people in for a closer look. Then their eyes move out to the rest of your garden area to see all the true joy that awaits them there. What a delight it is to us to hear all the nice comments coming from the enjoyment of our efforts to create an oasis of beauty in our yards! 

Enjoy your rose beds and gardens and be present in them. Be vigilant for any problems, as catching such things early is the best action in control. Don’t forget to feed and water! Enjoy!

Author bio: With 40+ years of rose growing experience, Stan V. Griep is a Consulting Rosarian for the Rocky Mountain Region of the American Rose Society as well as the Denver and Loveland Rose Societies, a Colorado Native Rosarian, and is a member of the American Rose Society, The Denver Rose Society, and the Loveland Rose Society. He is a Cyber Consulting Rosarian for the American Rose Society, Colorado Gardening on-line and as well as a freelance writer and speaker. An award winning photographer, his latest book is available at .


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