How Can I Kill a Rose Bush?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Rose bushes (Rosa spp.) are beautiful additions in a flower beds or fence row until you try to remove them. These thorny shrubs have tenacious root systems that can regrow repeatedly after they are cut down. Invasive rose bushes such as the multiflora rose bush (Rosa multiflora) regrow from severed roots left in the ground, making mechanical control difficult even after the roots are pulled. Multiflora rose bushes are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 8 and mild parts of adjacent zones.

Mowing Roses Down

It is possible to kill a rose bush by cutting it to the ground, but it may continue regrowing for two to four years. Over time, cutting the bush back will deplete the nutrient reserves of the root system and the bush will finally die. Allowing the bush to grow for a few weeks after it reemerges and before cutting it back again, helps deplete the root system quickly.

Keep Them Out

Rogue rose bushes thrive in areas where there is little competition from other plants. Gardens that are left untended for a season are a prime location for fledgling rose bushes. Rose bushes are also capable of establishing a presence in areas of overgrown grass. Young bushes are vulnerable to mowing and die out quickly when they are cut down repeatedly. Keeping all parts of your yard mowed or cutting down rose bushes as soon as they appear is an effective way to prevent them from establishing a foothold. Mowing before the seeds develop keep seeds from propagating into the yard. The most effective mowing regimen is three to six cuttings per growing season.

Spraying Roses

Premixed herbicides with the active ingredient glyphosate provide simple and effective control of rose bushes. This chemical kills on contact with the bush's foliage and green stems. The herbicide needs to come in contact with all the plant's foliage. The best time to use glyphosate is during the summer and fall when the bush is still growing but after it has developed seeds. Spraying in mild weather when there is little wind makes application easier and prevents the spray from drifting on to you or other plants. Avoid saturating the foliage to the point where herbicide drips off the plant; dripping herbicides will damage nearby plants it comes in contact with. Covering valuable plants with plastic while you are spraying helps reduce the chance of accidental contact.

Using Herbicide

Wearing pants and a thick long-sleeved shirt prevents accidental contact with herbicides such as glyphosate that are used for rose control. Misted droplets of herbicide carried on the wind can get into eyes and the respiratory tract unless the user wears a mask and protective goggles. Spraying rose bushes from an upwind position helps reduce contact with sprayed herbicides, but wash your hands, forearms and protective clothing immediately after spraying herbicides.


Daniel Thompson

Daniel Thompson began writing about analytical literature in 2004. He has written informative guides for a hardware store and was published at an academic conference as part of a collaborative project. He attained a Bachelors of Fine Arts in English literature from Eastern Kentucky University.