Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rust on roses

Roses are one of the few flowers that I am willing to spend any amount of time to grow. Typically if flowers aren't extremely care free, I don't grow them. I make an exception for roses because I really love the way they smell and I wanted to provide some for the neighborhood to have an opportunity to stop and smell the roses in front of our garden.
A Mr. Lincoln rose

"Are you seriously talking about flowers again?"

Our roses are getting very tall and have a number of blooms that are moments away from opening but they are also suffering from a bad break out of rust.

Roses growing tall in the front garden
Rust is a fungal disease that lives in the soil. It is very difficult to control once it becomes a problem and we have been battling it for a couple of seasons now. I ended up cutting the roses down to the canes in July because of it and it is back again now. One sign to look for is a yellowing of lower leaves like below.

Rust infected leaves

When you turn the leaves over, they will have orange spots of fungus.
The first course of action I take is to carefully prune off the affected leaves. This stuff is powdery and will fly off the leaves if you aren't careful which will potentially spread the problem to your unaffected leaves. It is important to try to prune without spreading the spores around. It is also important to sanitize your tool so you don't spread this stuff from one plant to another. 

Once all of the blooms have opened and we get to enjoy them, I will cut these plants all the way down, make sure that I pick up all the leaf littler from around the base of the plants and work some powdered milk into the soil to help kill the fungal spores. I do use Safer brand fungicide too to try and control the spread of rust and powdery mildew which is also a problem for the roses.

One of the reasons we are having such an issue with fungal disease is due to poor air circulation where the plants are planted. They are right next to a fence and the ground is about a foot lower than the rest of the garden. I may choose to move them to a spot with better air circulation if we aren't able to get the rust under control in the coming seasons.

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