How to Identify and Treat Common Rose Diseases

By the end of every fall I find myself swearing off roses. But at the beginning of every summer to follow, they suck me back in.

The promise of gorgeous flowers and carpets of petals, and the delectably tedious art of pruning, makes the headaches over diseases that commonly affect these plants tolerable.

A vertical picture of a flowering rose bush with pink blooms and green foliage on a green soft focus background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

At least until the end of fall, that is. Then I give up on them again.

But such is the life of the gardener.

Few plants in the garden offer the refined payout that roses do. From their iconic flowers to their euphoric aromas, roses are a mainstay for a reason.

A close up of the bright red blooms of a rose bush, with green stems and unopened buds, on a green soft focus background.

But this comes at the price of requiring lots of attention to detail in terms of plant health and care.

If you grow roses, you’re almost guaranteed to encounter disease.

Seasoned experts and eager amateurs alike are going to encounter black spot, mosaic, and mildew growing on their roses at one point or another.

Let’s take a look at these common and likely problems you’ll discover, and learn how to address them. But first, we’ll go over a few basics on disease prevention.

Here’s an overview of what I’ll cover:

Tips for Preventing Disease

Roses want full sun conditions and lots of airflow. They also thrive on being doted on, so regular pruning and removal of dead tissue will help minimize the risk of disease.

Hey, roses are a lot like us, aren’t they?

A concrete path meandering through a flower garden, between two borders with different plants in bloom.

Try planting disease-resistant cultivars to start with, to reduce the likelihood of infectious encounters.

I have never been a fan of Knock Out® Roses myself, but they are a popular series because they are generally highly resistant to disease.

Chemical Solutions

Always follow the directions on the label of any chemical solution you use in your garden!

Too much or too high of a dosage is just as bad, or sometimes many times worse, than applying too small of a dosage. Always refer to the label when using any chemical.

On the same note, if you find a strange tip on the internet or in conversation with a fellow gardener, do a little research before following through with it.

As much as I’m a fan of old school gardening techniques, I find too much of this is fluffy nonsense.

Keep Those Pruners Clean ‘n’ Sharp

I sharpen my pruners every single morning, and if I’m doing a lot of snipping, I’ll bring the whetstone with me to the jobsite.

A sharp blade makes a clean cut, and clean cuts minimize damage to a plant while simultaneously helping to prevent infections.

A close up of a hand from the left of the frame holding garden pruners and cutting a stem from a rose bush, in bright sunshine, on a soft focus background.

Many rose diseases easily spread to other plants, oftentimes from a gardener’s pruners.

I carry a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol and spritz my pruners between every plant I prune, or sometimes between every few cuts on the same plant.

It’s tedious and annoying, but it’s vital to plant health.

Rose Diseases

These are some of the more common rose diseases the home gardener will encounter.

I’ve listed them in ascending order of severity, with the really nasty ones at the end.

Black Spot

One of the most common rose diseases you’ll encounter is black spot.

Caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae, black spot will defoliate and weaken your plants, making them more vulnerable to other environmental pressures.

A close up of the leaves of a rose plant suffering from black spot. The green leaves are turning black in the center and at the edges. The background is foliage in soft focus.

Think of black spot as a gateway disease; it is unlikely to kill your roses by itself, but it stresses your plants and makes them more susceptible to other infections.

This fungal issue is often encountered in the spring and fall, when conditions are wet and cool nights prevent moisture from evaporating.

Warm weather over about 80°F/26°C tends to prevent black spot from occurring in the first place, and dry weather inhibits the progress of this disease.

A close up of bright green leaves suffering from black spot, a disease that attacks roses.
Photo by Matt Suwak.

Water splashing on infected leaves is what spreads the fungus, so a lack of precipitation and unnecessary irrigation means minimal spread of infection!

Black spot often begins its damage at the base of the plant and works its way to the top.

Infected leaves will develop a telling bunch of black spots before the plant drops these leaves.

Infected canes will look bruised and take on a black or purple hue, indicating the presence of infection.

The fungus overwinters in infected leaves and canes, so if your plants have it one year, it’s likely to make an appearance again in the future.

How to Handle Black Spot

Black spot can be treated with a few different types of sprays. However, this is a very difficult disease to handle once an infection sets in, so early care is vital.

A close up of foliage suffering from black spot. The green leaves are covered with black patches in the center and at the edges.

A mixture of about a teaspoon of baking soda with a quart of warm water can be sprayed on the plants, or you can use a sulfur-based fungicidal spray.

I started using this product from Southern Ag last fall, and found the results promising. It’s available on Amazon.

Liquid Copper Fungicide

Neem oil can also work, but I tend to avoid it when working with roses to prevent causing harm to beneficial insects.


A common problem caused by nine different species of fungus, at its most benign, rust is an ugly condition.

But in the worst cases, it will kill the initial host plant and spread to the others.

A close up of the foliage of a rose plant suffering from fungal rust. The green leaves are turning a light brown, rusty color.

It’s relatively easy to spot rust on your roses.

They’ll often drop leaves, and the condition is obvious with its orange, rust-colored marks that appear on leaves and canes. In the winter, infected canes tend to turn black.

Rust overwinters in infected tissue, but it can also find a safe hiding spot on trellises and fences, or just about any place near the host rose where it is offered some protection from the worst of the winter weather.

Luckily, this fungal issue is specific to roses, so it should only pose a potential threat to the other roses in your garden.

Handling Rust

As is the case with many plant diseases, a thorough and attentive watering regimen is key to solving your rust issues.

Remove fallen leaves every autumn and as an early spring cleanup project to help minimize the spread of this fungal disease.

If you’re in the planning stage of your garden design, consider purchasing rust-resistant rose varieties to dramatically minimize your chances of encountering this annoying problem.

If you opt for chemical control, consider using Bayer Advanced Disease Control instead of a combination fungicide and insecticide.

Bayer Advanced Disease Control for Roses

This is a reliable and readily available over-the-counter choice, and you can find it on Amazon.

Powdery Mildew

If you’re growing roses, you’ve probably encountered powdery mildew before. It leaves a telltale… well, powdery mildew on the leaves, a gray coating that screams “yuck!”

It’s commonly spotted in a variety of plants in the garden, and becomes an almost constant annoyance in late summer and early fall.

A close up of a stem and foliage of a plant suffering from powdery mildew, a fungal infection causing white patches on the leaves.

This fungal disease thrives in humid conditions where airflow is minimal or nonexistent. Sounds like every summer day in Philadelphia, if you ask me!

However, it can also thrive in dry conditions, and that’s what makes powdery mildew such a headache. You just never know when it’s gonna strike.

If it’s a minor case of powdery mildew, I tend to let it go unmended, but will pay close attention to infected pants to ensure the disease doesn’t spread.

A close up of leaves showing powdery mildew, a common rose disease, pictured in bright sunlight with flowers and foliage in soft focus in the background.

Oftentimes this is an issue that will take care of itself in minor cases.

A thorough fall cleanup of all shed leaves is a helpful trick to minimize any recurrences.

Handling Powdery Mildew

Either of the fungicides recommended for the previous fungal issues will help to treat powdery mildew. Any product containing Mancozeb will do the trick.

Make sure you’re spraying all parts of the plant, including the tops and bottoms of leaves, on a regular schedule.

Some experts recommend an application every two weeks, but as always, read the label of your purchased chemical for its suggested usage.

Botrytis Blight

I remember watching some tea roses expectantly, eager to see their developing buds blossom into the lovely flowers I’ve come to love (and detest, depending on what time of the year you ask me about it…) then furrowing my brow as the petals turned brown and crispy.

A close up of a rose bloom suffering from the disease botrytis blight, where the petals go brown and dry out, eventually dropping from the plant.

This was my first encounter with botrytis blight, an awful and ugly disease that most often attacks tea roses, ruining their blooms.

Like most fungal issues, this one is caused largely by environmental issues, so a hot and humid summer is the perfect breeding ground for this disease.

Handling Botrytis Blight

While botrytis blight can be controlled temporarily with fungicides, it often adapts a resistance to these sprays and makes them ineffective after prolonged use.

Sunny, dry weather is often enough to keep this condition under control.

A close up of a rose bloom suffering from botrytis blight. The petals are going brown and drying out. The background is soft focus.

An interesting solution to handling botrytis blight rests in your fertilization practices.

Too much nitrogen can create an abundance of new, soft growth that is overly susceptible to this blight.

Limit any midsummer feeding you provide to your roses to help minimize the risk of blight attacking that new growth.


This one is an ugly, potentially fatal fungal infection for your roses.

A close up of a green stem showing characteristic dark spots of stem canker, a disease of roses.
Photo by Elizabeth Bush, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University,, via CC 3.0

Canker reveals itself by turning the canes black, most notably in locations where the plant was recently pruned.

Always clean your pruners between different plants to prevent this from happening!

A vertical picture showing a close up of a devastating stem canker, a common disease on rose shrubs.
Photo by Florida Division of Plant Industry , Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,, via CC 3.0

Interestingly, cankers often cause the most trouble during the colder periods of the year, making them a bit more difficult to notice than other diseases.

I’ve encountered them during early springtime pruning, either by discovering old cankers, or noticing new ones taking hold.

Roses are susceptible to three types of canker:

1. Brown Canker

You’ll find tiny, raised, reddish-purple bumps on the canes, a little less than half the size of a grain of rice. As these little spots begin to mature into their fruiting bodies, they develop a brown or black color.

2. Brand Canker

These have a similar reddish color as the brown variety, also found on the canes, but these cankers quickly develop a brown center. I’ve yet to see a brand canker without that brown central coloration.

3. Stem Canker

Sometimes harder to spot at a glance than the others, stem canker tends to have a yellowish color, but it can also swing towards the red slice of the color wheel. This type of canker shows up on the bark.

Handling Cankers

Using clean, sharp pruners, remove the infected tissue and canes.

I’ve seen people cut two to three inches below the infected tissue, but I go farther than that if it’s a widespread issue, sometimes removing 75% of an infected stem.

Cut into the healthy, green area of the plants, and follow up with a fungicidal treatment to give your roses an added boost against reinfection.

Preventing cankers is surprisingly easy: mulch their roots to prevent the plants from getting too cold in the winter, and make sure you provide adequate amounts of fertilizer.

Crown Gall

As we’ve moved through this list, we’ve talked about rose diseases in order of their severity, so you know crown gall is serious business.

It’s also one of the most easily identifiable of all rose diseases.

A close up vertical picture of a rose stem suffering from crown gall, with a large brown mass growing on the stem.
Photo by Jennifer Olson, Oklahoma State University,, via CC 3.0

Crown gall is an ugly, weird-looking growth of tissue that looks like a mix between a brain, a praying mantis nest, and a head of cauliflower.

It can be a smaller mass of tissue or a larger one, and can occur almost anywhere on the rose, but it almost always develops near the soil level or crown of the plant.

It is caused by a bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefaciens, for the Latin lovers) that enters wounded tissue.

Though it’s easy to identify once you spot it, most of the time, this disease is not noticed until weeks after the date of infection.

Handling Crown Gall

Well, this one is simultaneously easy and sad: remove the infected plant and destroy it, and do not plant another rose in this location for two years.

A close up of a green branch showing a large growth of crown gall, a disease of rose bushes and other plants, on a soft focus background.
Photo by Jennifer Olson, Oklahoma State University,, via CC 3.0

The goal here is to get rid of any residual bacteria in the soil, and any of the original rose’s infected roots, before replanting in that area.

Treatments are available to slow the growth of a crown gall and to minimize its damage, but these efforts will not kill this infection.

Treatment only slows the progress of the disease and is not recommended.

Rose Rosette

In my opinion, this is the saddest-looking disease a plant could possibly develop.

It’s as if the physical traits of rose rosette disease were meant to twist and warp a rose just enough that it’s still beautiful, but in a very ugly way.

A vertical picture of a plant suffering from rose rosette disease, with dark red stems and foliage and lots of tiny new thorns, on a green soft focus background.

You’ll notice this disease, which is spread by a virus-carrying mite, when you see the telltale bizarrely red growth of the plant.

Other early symptoms include deformed and brittle leaves with yellow and red pigmentation.

As the disease progresses, the rose develops smaller leaves and vibrant red shoots.

You’ll also notice a dramatic increase in the number of thorns on the stems of your roses.

A close up of the stem of a plant suffering from rose rosette disease showing the large number of tiny new thorns, set on a stone background.

They will come to look like something more akin to a wild bramble than your favorite rose.

This disease spreads throughout the summer as the mites travel on the wind and infect new plants, laying eggs over a 30-day period.

Handling Rose Rosette

Rose rosette tends to infect wild roses far more readily than cultivated ones, but anything in the genus Rosa is susceptible.

It’s recommended that you plant your roses as far away from wild roses as you can, to avoid transmission.

A close up of a section of rose bush afflicted by the devastating rose rosette disease, with red foliage and a large number of new thorns on the stems, set on a white surface.
Photo by Mary Ann Hansen, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, via CC 3.0

Prune your roses hard each year (I prune mine on the first decent days of early spring), cutting back as much as 70% of last year’s growth.

This helps remove any overwintering mites and potentially infected tissue.

You can also apply insecticidal soap, but be warned that these chemicals kill almost any insect they come into contact with, including natural predators that feed on the mites.

If you’ve got a plant that is infected with rose rosette disease, you only have one real option for control: destroy the plant and burn it, or place it into a plastic bag and dump it with the garbage.

I’d recommend bagging the plant before removing it, to prevent spreading the mites as you carry it around the yard.

You can still plant a new rose in the same location, since the disease is transmitted via mites that do not overwinter in the soil.

Get Ready for Healthy Roses!

Now that we’ve gone over the diseases you’re likely to encounter, you’ll be ready to hit the ground pruning this season and enjoy a fabulous display of healthy blooms.

A garden scene with red and pink blooms in the foreground, and an arched pergola covered in climbing roses, with trees in soft focus in the background.

Still have questions? Please drop us a line in the comments below, or share your own tips and tricks for rose disease management.

Check out our rose pruning guide to brush up on that skill, and if you choose to apply any type of chemicals to your roses, read our pesticide application guide.

And to read more about diseases and pests that can invade your garden, try these guides next:

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different photos of diseased rose plants.

Photos by Matt Suwak © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Clare Groom and Allison Sidhu.

About Matt Suwak

Matt Suwak was reared by the bear and the bobcat and the coyote of rural Pennsylvania. This upbringing keeps him permanently affixed to the outdoors where most of his personal time is invested in gardening, bird watching, and hiking. He presently resides in Philadelphia and works under the sun as a landscaper and gardener, and by moonlight as a writer. An incessant questioning of “Why?” affords him countless opportunities to ponder the (in)significance of the great and the small. He considers folksy adages priceless treasures and is fueled almost entirely by beer and hot sauce.

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Chris Meinhardt
Chris Meinhardt (@guest_6074)
6 months ago

Great guide! I am wondering if you can help me determine if my knockout roses are being impacted by one of the diseases you mentioned. I’m having a difficult time trying to find a disease picture online that matches.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Noble Member
Reply to  Chris Meinhardt
6 months ago

Sure, are you able to upload a photo?

Cindy (@guest_7193)
5 months ago

Why does my rose bush look wet and sappy on the leaves? Is it from the wasps that are always around it?

Sandi Stephens
Sandi Stephens (@guest_7228)
5 months ago

I have searched the internet for weeks about this problem with my roses and have had no luck identifying this problem. As you can see from the photos, the rose looks dead on one side. A couple of weeks ago this plant was perfectly healthy looking and full of blooms. Suddenly the limbs and leaves start dying and this typically spreads to the whole plant. It seems to be contagious to nearby roses. The photo of the monster tomato plant I’ve included is about 10 feet from this rose and is obviously not affected by whatever is affecting the roses.… Read more »

Angela (@guest_7745)
4 months ago

Enjoying your guide but cant seem to figure out what’s going on with my always healthy knockout roses this year. Any idea what this could be? Thanks, Angela

Chiara (@guest_7763)
4 months ago

Hi there, I’m trying to identify what’s going on with my roses. They seem fine from afar, leaves and new growth look nice enough, a bit chewed on maybe but that’s life. The stems on the other hand look all damaged, some are woody and cracked and others with brown purplish spots.

Chiara (@guest_7801)
Reply to  Matt Suwak
4 months ago

Thank you for the fast response! Yes, rainy April plus my incorrect watering (live and learn). About the pruning, should I do it the sooner the better, or wait, I don’t know, after the blooming? And, most of all, what if the spots go all the way down? Thanks

Jennifer Minyard
Jennifer Minyard (@guest_7831)
4 months ago

Hoping you can help with my rose bush. I’ve always thought purple leaves were new growth but some said it might have a disease.This bush was purchase and trans planted about 3weeks ago, given rose feed(miracle gro pink box) had about a dozen beautiful blooms, trimmed back some. Now the leaves are a deep purple and has about 10 new buds.

1st photo is after planting

2nd photo is as of this morning


pauline cook
pauline cook (@guest_7883)
4 months ago

Hi Matt im in UK. I have a David Austin Gertrude Jekyll rose in pot planted in March. It grew and flowered beautifully. Then this happened – I don’t know what is wrong or how to treat it.

Susan (@guest_7887)
4 months ago

I appreciated your descriptions of different pests that attack roses. I have one that I’m nor sure about. I had a small memorial rosebush in my house all winter (NY), and she was healthy and had a bloom in April! On May 30, I put her in the garden, bushy and with a new bud, made certain her roots had water and good compost, and and by June 2, some of her leaves were turning a pale yellow/ash, not dusty, both sides, seem to be creeping higher. I do not want to lose this particular rose. Suggestions?

Milan Dolezal
Milan Dolezal (@guest_7963)
4 months ago

Hi, I have a problem with what I think is some kind of rose disease. The almost whole plant got brown and the leaves look like dry. Can anyone help me to identify what the issue is? Thank you!

Kristy (@guest_8006)
Reply to  Milan Dolezal
4 months ago

I also have this issue on my Knockout roses and it has spread to a few others. Interested to learn what the disease is and how to treat.

Lu Anne
Lu Anne (@guest_8103)
Reply to  Kristy
4 months ago

Ditto here. All three of my Knockouts have this – taken over the entire plant. I’m wondering if there is any chance to revive it?

Cindy (@guest_8168)
Reply to  Milan Dolezal
4 months ago

I have this exact same thing! Can’t figure out what it is. Any help is appreciated!

Kayleen (@guest_8184)
4 months ago

Hi! Thanks for all of the great info on rose diseases! I have a yellow and cream knock-out rose that went in the ground about a month ago. It’s in a newly built flower bed. My soil is a pretty heavy clay (as is much of central Pennsylvania soil), but I’ve amended it with a good organic soil, peat moss, and humus. The cream colored roses look great, but the yellow roses on the same plant have tiny black dots. What is this problem?

Dolores (@guest_8196)
4 months ago

I hope you can figure this out. I received this rose in a small, table top pot from a student. The roses are a peppermint candy cane stripe-really cute, it’s been in the ground for almost 3 years and each year it looks worse. Lots of buds, hardly any leaves and everything turns brown. Any ideas?

Dolores (@guest_8306)
Reply to  Matt Suwak
3 months ago

Thanks! I’ll give it a try and see what happens.

Annette (@guest_8357)
3 months ago

please see pics. I’m trying to figure out if my rose bushes have Rose Rosette. Also can other non-rose plants get infected?

Rose (@guest_8445)
3 months ago

I think the two on the left are roses and I am not sure what the two on the right are they came with the rose. I am worried because the one of the stems is completely brown the one on the middle right and the one on the middle left looks like it is starting to brown at the bottom. I am not sure if it is fungus or something else. It is indoors. Would copper fungicide work? Do I need to replant or are they okay?

Allison Price
Allison Price (@guest_8471)
3 months ago

Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this plant? I read the article – I didn’t see this ailment listed.

Christina Dorward
Christina Dorward (@guest_8487)
Reply to  Allison Price
3 months ago

Can’t wait until he answers! I have the exact same thing!

Allison Price
Allison Price (@guest_8495)
Reply to  Christina Dorward
3 months ago

I think it is a rose sawfly problem. I just purchased the insecticide soap. I cut off the offending branches too.

Last edited 3 months ago by Allison Price
Allison Price
Allison Price (@guest_8472)
3 months ago

Here is another picture

Ronda (@guest_8494)
3 months ago

Help… what is wrong here? I have several cut rose bushes. One of our goats got out and “pruned” my roses for me, early spring. They have come back all wrong. What can I do?

Angela (@guest_8510)
3 months ago

Very much enjoyed reading your writing. Any idea what keeps happening to the middle of these roses of mine?

Caroline M Knickerbocker
Caroline M Knickerbocker (@guest_8542)
3 months ago

Hi Matt and readers, I am trying to figure out what is going on with my new David Austin Ambridge rose that I just planted in March. It is the first rose bush I have planted and what a rude awakening as to how difficult roses are — I have already dealt with rose slugs and aphids. Now the leaves have small dark spots, are turning yellow, drying and falling off. All of the buds except for one have broken off or been chewed off. The plant has become much leaner and looks terrible. We had a very wet spring… Read more »

Caroline M Knickerbocker
Caroline M Knickerbocker (@guest_8731)
Reply to  Matt Suwak
3 months ago

Thank you so much, Matt, for the diagnosis and the support. Yes, the rose is in a pot with good drainage including broken up pottery in the bottom (however, the pot is sitting on the ground so that might not be so great). It’s got compost and mulch on top. I used good quality potting soil, some fertilizer from David Austin Roses, and followed instructions exactly being a nervous newbie to rose care.   I figured it was black spot and have been spraying it with the mixture of baking soda and warm water that you recommended in this article.… Read more »

richard williams
richard williams (@guest_8554)
3 months ago

Any idea what is wrong with my roses any one know what I need to do to get them healthy not even sure if they are meant to look like that

richard williams
richard williams (@guest_8555)
3 months ago

I have a rose tree which has grown only one rose last year nothing as this was uprooted by a cat and I just replanted it a year ago

Antoinette (@guest_8573)
3 months ago

Please help! My newly potted hybrid tea rose flooded during a week long rain storm and now has black canes. What do I do to save it? I haven’t watered it in 2 weeks and there has been no change.

Dee Schader
Dee Schader (@guest_8596)
3 months ago

A couple of my roses look like the graft is coming undone. One half of the rose bush is lavender, which is what it’s suppose to be and then on the other side is a dark red rose. Is this something to be concerned about.

Dee Schader
Dee Schader (@guest_8597)
3 months ago

I have 2 rose bushes that look like they are losing their graft. The one bush that is a lavender rose has one lavender rose on one side and then the other side has a dark red. Is this a problem or normal?

Ana (@guest_8670)
3 months ago


Our roses have started getting red/pink spots, no matter the type of rose they all seem to develop this. We give them a bag of farmyard manure, in spring from the local garden centre, and wondered if it’s something in that. Some are also crisping up as buds, still growing but when they open they are shriveled and dead looking – much like the Botrytis you describe. Are the pink spots and Botrytis linked?

It’s Glasgow, Scotland and rains a lot. Ana

Whitney (@guest_8871)
3 months ago

I am thinking this may be black spot, but the leaves have me questioning… any thoughts? The 3 pictures are from 3 different rose bushes. I’m in a 100+-degree climate with 10% humidity.

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9186)
Reply to  Whitney
2 months ago

Hi Whitney, I don’t think it’s black spot. It’s not in the article, but there is a disease called anthracnose that infects a tremendous number of plants, including roses. There is an article from Texas A&M that goes into great detail on the control measures, which range from cutting out the infected parts and not watering overhead to treating the infection with fungicides. I hope that it will be helpful to you. Here is the link.

William Hammond
William Hammond (@guest_9091)
2 months ago

I’m new to roses, gardening in general. This is a newly planted bush and I’m trying to figure out if it has black spot or cankers or what it is. Doesn’t really look like anything I’ve seen online searching for answers.
Thanks for any help

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9187)
Reply to  William Hammond
2 months ago

Hi William, I am sorry to say that the canes look like they have a really nasty case of canker. I would follow the advice in this article. And don’t lose hope about gardening! Roses can develop a tremendous number of problems.

Lucky (@guest_9106)
2 months ago

Any ideas why my Rosa Rugosa has turned yellow?

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9188)
Reply to  Lucky
2 months ago

Hi Lucky, There are a number of reasons that can cause rose leaves to turn yellow (chlorosis to be technical). The problem could be with the soil, under or overwatering, and too much or too little fertilizer. I suggest starting with a soil test to see if the pH of the soil is too high or if the levels of iron are low. Make sure you are not over or under fertilizing. How do you water the plants? If you water too frequently, the lack of oxygen can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Using a sprinkle frequently results in… Read more »

Lucky (@guest_9275)
Reply to  Helga George, PhD
2 months ago

Much thanks 🙂 I held off on watering and I haven’t seen any more yellowing leaves

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9522)
Reply to  Lucky
1 month ago

That’s wonderful! I’m so happy to hear it. Thank you for letting us know!

Jack (@guest_9130)
2 months ago

Thanks for the great article.
I have this Chrysler Imperial rose plant. I purchased this year. It i not growing well. leaves are looking like this cannot figure out. Please help to identify the issue.

Jack (@guest_9132)
2 months ago

Thanks for the great article.
I have this Chrysler Imperial rose plant. I purchased this year. It i not growing well. leaves are looking like this cannot figure out. Please help to identify the issue.
Attached are the pictures of the leaves.

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9190)
Reply to  Jack
2 months ago

Hi Jack, I’m so sorry that the pictures didn’t upload. Could you possibly try again?

Carola Blaney
Carola Blaney (@guest_9142)
2 months ago

Hi, my three year old Rosa Alba Semi Plena has started to develop black spot near the base of the plant and I’m getting really worried (see pic.). I’ve read, that this is unusual for this type of old once-flowering rose variety, as they’re normally more prone to rust. Do I need to be concerned?? I would never use fungicides or other chemicals in my wildlife garden. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. comment image

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9192)
Reply to  Carola Blaney
2 months ago

Hi Carola, The picture didn’t upload, but I can still comment about the black spot. If the infection is not too entrenched, you can try dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in a quart of warm water and spraying with that. I don’t want you to violate your principles, but if the infection is severe, the only way to cure it is by treating it with a fungicide. Copper concentrates are frequently certified organic if you would feel better about that. Since black spot predisposes rose bushes to many other problems that can kill them, it is important to treat… Read more »

Rocco (@guest_9157)
2 months ago

We have Mr. Lincoln roses, planted less than a year ago, they were doing great , had some aphids early on, they were blooming regularly, now there are no blooms, and the leaves are starting to brown , we fertilized them a couple times , also used miracle grow when watering , any suggestions ?

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9193)
Reply to  Rocco
2 months ago

Hi Rocco, I can’t be positive, but it looks like they might have a case of a fungal disease known as anthracnose. There is a link to a Texas A&M article on how to manage this disease on roses. Check out my reply to Whitney. I’m not sure about roses, but there is some data that overfertilization can increase the susceptibility of hydrangeas to this disease, so I would suggest fertilizing less frequently.

Niki (@guest_9171)
2 months ago


The leaves in our climber rose plant started to turn yellow and they have started to turn brown and fall of the plant, even the stem is turning brown. Attached a pic. Could you please provide a solution for the problem.

Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9194)
Reply to  Niki
2 months ago

Hi Niki, I’m sorry, but it’s difficult for me to closely see the damage in that picture. Could you possibly provide a closeup of the afflicted areas? Thanks so much!

Sue Ibbison
Sue Ibbison (@guest_9212)
2 months ago

Hi – all of the blooms on my new rose plant seem to have perished. This was a lovely lipstick red rose but within a day its leaves had turned in and gone a blue shade. It is growing in clay soil on top of the roots of an English Laurel tree which I understand is poisonous ? Nasturiums and other low lying flowers grow fine here. I have fed it once with rose feed and it gets a daily water but I know that something else is wrong. Can anyone advise ? Thanks. Sue

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Sue Ibbison
2 months ago

Hello, Sue. I wouldn’t worry about the English laurel roots, it’s doubtful that they’re causing a problem. It does look like your plant isn’t getting enough water, however. The scorching on the margin of the petals and the blue curling leaves are all signs that your plant wants more moisture.

Give it daily water while the temps are warm. You may even want to give it temporary shade using an umbrella for a few days.

Raneem (@guest_9287)
2 months ago

For some reason my rose bush has an oily substance on its stems. I couldn’t find anything online as to what might cause it. Do you have any ideas?
Thank you!

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Raneem
2 months ago

Hi Raneem. Have you tried touching the substance? You can use a cotton swab if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. If it seems sticky, it’s likely honeydew, which is a secretion left behind by aphids. Honeydew can look somewhat viscious and dark, sort of like oil, and its usually most visible on plant stems. Give your roses a good examination and look for clusters of aphids. They’re most common on the undersides of leaves, at the base of blossoms, and at the joints of green, newer growth. They’re pretty tiny, so you have to look close. We… Read more »

Susan (@guest_9289)
2 months ago

Suddenly my yellow Knockout rose bushes have lost all of their leaves from the bottom of the plant to about halfway up. Also, many of the leaves are yellow. Can you help me?

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Susan
2 months ago

Hi Susan, leaf yellowing is extremely common when a rose bush is stressed, especially from the bottom half, which is where the old growth tends to be. Roses sacrifice old growth so they can focus on newer growth when they’re struggling. First, examine the existing green leaves for any signs of black spots or fungus-like coatings. Also, look for any sign of insects, such as chewed on leaves, distorted buds, or webbing. If you don’t see any critters or diseases, consider your weather. If it has been hot and dry where you live lately, your Knockout could simply be stressed… Read more »

MNovember1 (@dawn)
2 months ago

Hello, I am in need of serious help. At least I think so 😊. I have never seen so many problems with roses. Matter of fact I’ve never had any problems with my roses. I have several problems and don’t know which way to attack them and do it correctly. Based on that they all don’t share more than 2 of the same issues. I believe I am dealing with Rose Rosette, Cercospora Leaf Spot, Leafminer, Anthracnose on Roses (it may be this instead of black spot), black spot, (I have these specks for little black insects that I can’t… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Noble Member
Reply to  MNovember1
2 months ago

So sorry to hear your roses are having so many problems this season! Are they all growing together? Where are you gardening, and what has the weather been like? Can you share photos? Rose rosette is unfortunately incurable, but you may still be able to treat the affected plants, and you should be able to address the other issues as well. When a plant is already weakened by environmental issues, insects, or disease, this makes is more susceptible to other problems. Begin by pruning away any damaged or diseased portions and try diatomaceous earth or neem oil to deal with… Read more »

Joe Wilkinson
Joe Wilkinson (@guest_9501)
1 month ago

I have 8 Sugar Moon roses, very fragrant. They are about 2 1/2 years old. 7 of them have a problem on the leaves. It’s yellow to magenta on the leaves that are affected, usually near the bottom of the plants. Can you help me diagnose what it is?

We are in the SF bay area of Northern California.

Your information is very helpful. Thanks so much for doing this.


Helga George, PhD
Helga George, PhD (@guest_9523)
Reply to  Joe Wilkinson
1 month ago

Hi Joe, I’m so sorry to hear about the problem with your roses. And I’m glad that you find the information helpful! Thank you for taking the time to say that. There are a number of factors that could cause the leaves to turn that color, and they are not due to infection. Watering too frequently is a really common problem, as is applying too much or too little fertilizer. The soil could be the problem, too. If the pH goes too high, that can cause the leaves to turn yellow, as can low levels of iron. I would start… Read more »

Aimee (@guest_9642)
1 month ago


I have a 9 month old Zephrin Droughlin climber that has grown to about 6’x15′ around the corner of my house but about 1 week ago the leaves in a couple spots started turning yellow and dying. It is facing east and I’m in zone 9a. I have 4 other rose bushes nearby that are healthy and full of blooms. Is this a nutrient issue or something else?? I’m new with roses and this is out of my depth. Attached are close ups of the worst area.

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Aimee
1 month ago

Hi Aimee! Looks like your plant has black spot. We have a section above on how to deal with this common problem.

Maria (@guest_9697)
1 month ago

Great tutorial on roses! Thank you so much! I am wondering if you could help me with a problem I haven’t seen before and am not having much luck determining what this is. I’ve only seen it a couple of times but would prefer to nip it in the bud early. The bud appears to be filled with an amber gel.

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Maria
1 month ago

Hi Maria, that looks like grasshopper damage to me. The good news is they only have one generation a year and you can stop them by tying a small piece of mesh (you can even buy little mesh bags at craft stores) around the buds. After a few weeks you can take the mesh off.

Michele (@guest_9825)
1 month ago

Hello! I purchased my first rose plant. The tag says it is a John F. Kennedy rose. The base of the plant is very dark brown but the higher stems are green. I don’t know if there is something wrong with it or is this normal for a rose plant to look like this?

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Reply to  Michele
1 month ago

What a beautiful rose variety to pick! Could you possibly provide an image? There are a number of problems that can cause stems to darken near the base, but it could also be the nature of the plant. It would help if I had an image to go off of.

Michele (@guest_9862)
Reply to  Kristine Lofgren
1 month ago

Hi Kristine! Thank you for your help. I apologize the picture is sideways. I’m not very technical.

Jessica (@guest_9865)
1 month ago

Can you help me figure out what this is please? I’m stumped!

Nina (@guest_9879)
1 month ago

I was wondering if you could help me identify whether it is a nutrient deficiency or rose mosaic virus. I am attaching the photo below. I am really worried that if it is rose mosaic virus, it will spread to my other roses.

Nino (@guest_10276)
Reply to  Matt Suwak
8 days ago

Thank you so much for your response, I just saw it. It started showing symptoms with coolEr weather and fall. I am zone 6b and when temperatures dropped it appeared that’s why I am thinking it could be mosaic. Also the neighboring clematis started having he same spots. I want to wait for spring to see if it comes back but also am worried that by waiting, I might spread mosaic to my healthy roses. There are mixed opinions online on how fast mosaic spreads so I am not sure whether I should destroy them or can afford to wait.… Read more »

Cathy Kelley
Cathy Kelley (@guest_9897)
1 month ago

I have a true love of roses! I have many many knock outs, new dawn climbing, lots of drift roses. My problem is with my JFK, Queen Elizabeth and Chicago Peace roses. Can you help me decipher what my problem is please?

The first 2 are QE
The next two are 2 different JFK
Then the Chicago Peace

Margo B.
Margo B. (@guest_9951)
28 days ago

I’ve read through all your rose systems. I have black spot which I can take care of, but I have 6 tea roses that I’m sure have rose rosette! I have to tear them all out and destroy!? 😥

Roselynie Clavero
Roselynie Clavero (@guest_10074)
22 days ago

Could you please identify the problem of my rose.. for some reason, new buds grow out of the 1st flower.


Nino (@guest_10272)
8 days ago

Could you please help me identify bright yellow spots developed on my rose leaves? Clematis is within half a meter from it shows the same symptoms. If it is mosaic disease, I read mixed information about how fast it spreads so not sure whether I should destroy those plants. (The blue spots are from copper fungicide application). I am attaching he picture to help identify it. Btw the rose bush did show some blooms despite of spots.

CLARE (@guest_10332)
9 hours ago

I have a couple of short stem with black outside white inside. Can anyone tell me if it is fungus? if not can I leave it or best to cut off. I have been cutting back the same stem, but it seems the green stem eventually turn black. Thanks