why do my roses have black spots on the leaves

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society A common rose disease is known as black spot ( Diplocarpon rosae ). The name is very appropriate, as this fungal disease forms black spots all over the foliage of rose bushes. If left unchecked, it can cause a rose bush to totally defoliate. Let s look at what causes black spots on rose bush leaves and steps for treating black spot roses. What Causes Black Spots on Rose Bush Leaves? Many frustrated gardeners wonder, What causes black spots on rose bush leaves? Black spot and roses usually go hand in hand. In fact, many roses get a little black spot, which can even be tolerated to some degree without any harm to plants. However, heavy infections can seriously defoliate plants. Rose black spot is caused by fungus. Dark-brown to black leaf spots develop on the upper leaves, which eventually become yellow and drop. Black spot can be distinguished from other leaf spot diseases by its fringed edges and dark black color. Raised, reddish-purple spots may also appear on rose canes. Warm, humid conditions favor its germination and growth. Once your rose bush gets attacked by the black spot fungus, its markings are there to stay until the marked leaves fall off and a new leaf is generated. The fungus that causes the black spots can be killed and not do any further damage to the foliage but the marks will remain for some time. In my rose beds, a rose named Angel Face (floribunda) was a black spot magnet! If I did not spray her when her leaves first started to form in early spring, she would most certainly get the black spot. In the early spring when the leaf buds on the rose bushes first start to push out the little leaves, I spray all the rose bushes with a black spot treatment fungicide called Banner Maxx or a product called Honor Guard (a generic form of Banner Maxx). After three weeks and then at three week intervals, all rose bushes are sprayed with a product called Green Cure until the last spraying of the season. The last spraying of the season is done with Banner Maxx or Honor Guard again. Should the dreaded roses black spot get ahead of you in the rose beds, a product called Mancozeb fungicide will stop black spot on rose bushes in its tracks. I found out about this great product a few years ago when rose black spot got ahead of me and the rose Angel Face was well under attack.


The Mancozeb does leave a yellowish powder on all of the foliage, but that is part of how it works. This product is applied every 7 to 10 days for three sprayings. After the third spraying, the normal spraying program may continue. The black spot fungus should be dead, but remember the black spots on the rose leaves will not disappear. The Mancozeb product may be mixed with another fungicide called Immunox and then applied to the rose bushes to lessen the amount of yellowish powder left on the foliage. Both are added to the spray tank as if they were the only product in the tank mix. I have personally used both of these application methods and both worked very well. Treating black spot roses begins with prevention. Black spot rose disease control includes adequate planting sites, the use of resistant cultivars, and pruning. Roses should be planted in areas with plenty of sunlight and good circulation. Good garden hygiene is important for treating black spot roses. During the growing season, overhead watering should be avoided. Removal of leaf litter and pruning of diseased canes (back to healthy wood) is also important. Keeping the rose bushes thinned well at pruning and deadheading times will help the airflow through the bush, thus also helping to prevent black spot on roses and other fungal disease outbreaks. With any of the fungal diseases, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound or more of cure! Either having a routine spraying program or keeping a close eye on your rose bushes is a priority. The sooner roses black spot treatment starts, the easier it is to gain control of it. I like to use the Green Cure as my main fungicidal spraying product, as it is earth friendly and does the job it needs to do. can also be used, which helps control many rose pests as well. Some people also use baking soda, which helps change the pH level on leaf surfaces, making it more difficult for black spot to infect plants. To make this organic solution, mix a couple tablespoons of baking soda with a gallon of water. Adding a drop or two of bleach free dish soap will help keep the baking soda on the leaf. Spray both sides of the foliage. Reapply weekly and repeat after any rain. What is Black Spot? Black spot is a fungal disease ( Diplocarpon rosae ), that affects roses. The fungus develops as black spots on the leaves, eventually causing the leaves to turn yellow and drop off.


Besides looking unsightly, it can seriously weaken the rose plant. Ideal conditions for black spot to thrive include hot, humid or rainy summers and hot days with cool, damp nights. Black spot will look like somewhat circular black spots on leaves. They usually occur on the upper sides of leaves, but can also develop on the undersides. The outer margins of the black circles are ragged or feathery and they are usually surrounded by a ring of yellow. Spots begin on the lower leaves and move upward. They can appear as early as when the leaves first unfurl. These spots can enlarge and eventually merge. Severally affected leaves often fall off the plants and left unchecked, the entire plant can defoliate. The fungus can also infect young canes, causing dark purple or black blisters on the canes, and even the flowers may show some red spotting. Infected plants will set fewer flower buds and without leaves, the plants become stressed and are susceptible to even more problems. Black spot is easier to prevent than to cure. Existing spores can remain in the soil and over-winter on leaves and stems, waiting for favorable conditions. They make contact with the rose by splashing up in drops of water. To prevent black spot, provide the following conditions. Give the plant what it wants. This is true for avoiding any plant disease. A healthy, vigorous plant is less susceptible to problems. Roses prefer a sunny location with well-draining soil and regular weekly watering. Air Flow - Provide around and through your rose plants. Don t plant your roses too close to other plants. Prune to open the spaces between canes, if the plant gets too dense and air cannot get through. Proper Watering - Avoid getting the leaves wet, while watering. There s not much you can do about rain, but at least limit the time the leaves remain wet. Plant resistant cultivars - Roses are often labeled for resistance, from highly resistant on down. While you are looking for black spot resistance, you might as well look for a rose that is also resistant to and. , the newer shrub and ground cover roses and many of the Canadian Explorer Series, like John Cabot and William Baffin, show good resistance. Sanitation - Remove any infected leaves and always do a thorough cleanup each fall. Remove and dispose of any remaining leaves, when you do your in late winter/early spring.


Spores can remain on leaves and stems throughout and will reinfect whenever conditions are favorable. Within 10 days of the first symptoms, the disease has already started spreading. Spores can spread by water and wind. Prune out any canes showing signs of infection. Prune 6 8 inches below the infection and only prune in dry weather. Disinfect your pruners with a 10% bleach solution or alcohol, between cuts. Mulch - Apply a thick layer of around the plants. Mulch will prevent water from splashing up on the plant and spreading spores. It is easier to prevent black spot than to cure it, but it is time-consuming. If black spot is a reoccurring problem in your area, you may need to spray your plants weekly, starting in early spring. Baking soda spray - Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1-quart warm water. Add up to 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Spray leaves thoroughly. This mixture works better as a preventive than as a cure. It also offers some protection from powdery mildew. Bordeaux Mix - This is a fungicide that contains copper sulfate and hydrated lime. It can be used as a powder or mixed with water and sprayed. Bordeaux mix also repels some, but it can burn plant leaves. It is generally used as a preventative in the spring before plants leaf out. Insecticidal soaps with added fungicide - These are basically some type of, often sulfur added to regular insecticidal soap. The soap helps the fungicide adhere to the plant leaves and spread to coat them. Neem Oil - Neem is an organic fungicide and pesticide, derived from the seeds of the neem tree. It gets inside the plant s system, so you don t need to worry about coating everything or reapplying after a rain. However, it can burn plant leaves in the hot sun. You should not apply need oil within 2 weeks of using a product containing sulfur. Sulfur - Sulfur both prevents and gets rid of fungus diseases. It is also used to control several insect pests. However, it can be mildly toxic to humans and other animals. You should wear protective clothing when you spray it. It can also corrode metal, so use a plastic sprayer. And it can burn plants leaves in hot weather. Sulfur comes as a finely ground powder. If you prefer to spray it on, look for one labeled as wettable so that it will mix with water.

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