A homemade rose bush spray can take down pests that have set up colonies along the tender leaves and buds. Pests left unchecked can decimate an otherwise healthy rose bush (Rosa spp.), causing blooms to shrivel or buds to drop. When applied correctly, a homemade rose bush spray can safely exterminate the creepy critters, as well as staunch diseases, without causing harm to you, your children, your pets or the environment.
Applying Homemade Rose Bush Spray
In order to keep pests at bay, check the rose bush regularly. At the first sign of aphids, beetles, thrips, mites, rose leafhoppers or other pests on the rose bush's leaves and buds, blast the little buggers with water. Be cautious because too much water can bring on powdery mildew.
Apply the homemade rose bush spray when the plant's leaves and buds are dry and when bees aren't buzzing around the blossoms collecting pollen. Spray from the top and move down the plant. Make sure to get the underside of the leaves, where pests tend to congregate. A good dosing of the homemade spray in all the crevices of the leaves and flowers and bends of the stems will ensure that the pests are gone for good.
A good time to begin looking for and controlling rose bush pests is in spring or when temperatures climb to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above. That is prime time for pests to begin populating the garden.
Simple Homemade Pesticides
Dish soap goes a long way toward getting rid of aphids. The waxy coating on the outside of an aphid's body is dissolved by the dish soap. Without that protective outer layer, the pest becomes dehydrated and dies. To make a dish-soap-based pesticide, simply add 2 tablespoons to a quart of water. Every few days, spray it directly on places where the aphids and mites are visible over the course of a few weeks.
Flour sprinkled over the top of rose bushes will also help eliminate aphids, as they will eat the flour but cannot digest it.
Vinegar for a Homemade Spray
A common homemade spray for rose bushes uses a small amount of vinegar. Too much vinegar can damage the plant's tender leaves and buds. Mix a scant tablespoon of vinegar with a cup of water. Pour in 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda and add a tablespoon of mild liquid dish soap. Finally, add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil to complete the base. Add the base to a gallon of water and mix thoroughly.
Spray it onto the rose bushes, targeting areas where you see aphids, mites or other pests. Don't swamp the plant with this oily mixture or the plant will suffer. The rose bush may need to be sprayed with this mix a few more times to completely eradicate the pests.
Natural Oils as Pesticides
Soft-bodied insects are no match for natural oils, such as vegetable, cottonseed, jojoba or neem. The oils suffocate the mature insects and penetrate the eggs that cling to the leaves to help eliminate future pest problems. Another perk of using natural oils as pesticides is that they are relatively safe for honeybees and other beneficial insects in the garden. To use them, add a tablespoon of the oil of your choice to the dish soap concoction.
Homemade Spray for Diseases
For diseases such as black spot and rust, a simple homemade rose bush spray made of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a teaspoon of vegetable oil added to a gallon of water can staunch the spread. Make sure to remove any infected leaves and dispose of them.
Powdery mildew can be fought with a simple spritz of cold water early in the morning when the plant will have time to dry in the day's sunshine. Only spritz the leaves from above. Don't douse the plant in water and swamp the leaves and plant. Overwatering can exacerbate the issue. Allow the leaves to dry and repeat until the disease has been stopped.
- Horticulture Magazine: Safe Rose Spray Recipe That Really Works
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Oils, Important Garden Pesticides
- Bob Vila: How To: Get Rid of Aphids
- Insect Cop: How to Get Rid of Aphids on Roses
- Heirloom Roses: Make Home Remedies for Pests and Diseases
- Clemson Cooperative Extension: Rose Insects and Related Pests
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.