Big, beautiful blossoms on roses (Rosa spp.) can be thwarted by voracious pests. Using commercial chemical sprays to douse the pests on the leaves and petals of healthy rose bushes can be harmful to children and pets. Luckily, there are a few ways to create an effective and inexpensive homemade insecticide to kill the bugs on rose bushes.
Use Horticultural Oil to Eliminate Rose Pests
Oils are often the base of homemade insecticides for rose bushes. Soft-bodied insects, such as aphids and mites, are beaten back quickly with a spray that contains cottonseed, vegetable, mineral, neem, or jojoba oil.
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Oils are ideal because they don't leave any toxic residue and are relatively safe for beneficial insects, such as honeybees. They can also staunch the spread of diseases to which roses are susceptible, including powdery mildew.
The oil kills soft-bodied insects by suffocating them and penetrates into the pests' eggs to kill off future infestations. Some oils, such as neem oil, also repel other insects from setting up a colony, but certain roses are sensitive to neem and damage may result from the use of this product.
Here's how to make a DIY rose insecticide:
- Combine one teaspoon each of horticultural oil, baking soda, and insecticidal soap.
- Mixed together in a quart of water.
- Funnel into a clear spray bottle and spray onto roses as needed.
Use a Vinegar Mixture to Eliminate Rose Pests
Used in small amounts, vinegar can be an effective ingredient to prevent rose pests from bothering your flowers. Because it can possibly damage the rose bushes' leaves or buds, it's best to use a light hand so that the oily mixture covers the target pests but doesn't clump in the creases of the petals or the base of buds and damage the potential blossoms.
Here's how to make a vinegar insecticide:
- Start with a concentrated base of 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.
- To this, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. The mixture may fizz, which is normal.
- Top this concentrated base with a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil, such as vegetable oil.
- Pour the entire mix into a gallon of water and stir until it is well combined.
- Spray it on the rose bushes immediately.
Tips for Applying Homemade Insecticide on Rose Bushes
While blasts of water are typically used to take down aphids and other pests seen on leaves and buds, all that water can cause powdery mildew to form on rose bushes or other plants.
- When spraying homemade insecticide for rose bushes, apply the spray in early morning or late in the afternoon when bees aren’t present or foraging for pollen.
- Make sure to cover the infected area to coat the pests you can see. Spray the top and underside of the rose bushes’ leaves as well as the shoots, buds and blooms.
- To prevent pests from popping out early, spray the rose bushes with homemade insecticide as soon as spring temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit.