How to Save a Dying Rose Bush

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Roses (​Rosa​ spp.) hold a special place in any flower garden, but they also come with their share of problems. This can leave you searching for ways to save a dying rosebush to keep the fragrant blooms and beautiful green foliage thriving. Investigating the cause of the rosebush problems can help you correct the issue before the bush dies completely. Common issues that can threaten your rosebushes include poor cultivation practices, pests and diseases.

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Check the Growing Conditions

A struggling rosebush could be dying due to improper growing conditions. When growing roses, the ideal location is one with a minimum of five to six hours of sunlight each day. Morning sunlight is ideal because it's not as harsh as afternoon light, and it helps dry rosebush foliage, reducing the risks of many fungal diseases that thrive in moist conditions. In cold climates, provide winter protection by planting near your home's foundation.

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Loose, loamy soil is ideal for your rosebushes. Compact or heavy clay soil can make it difficult for the roots to prosper. It can also cause waterlogged soil, which often leads to root rot that can kill your rosebushes.

If your roses are growing in poor conditions, consider transplanting them to a more suitable location. Transplanting roses in spring before they fully emerge from dormancy often has the best results.

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Provide Optimal Rosebush Care

If your rosebush care has been lacking recently, focus on providing all of the care a rose needs to flourish. When your area doesn't receive rain, irrigate your roses twice per week during the growing season, soaking the root zone to water the bushes deeply. Frequent shallow watering causes the roses to dry out and might encourage shallow root growth. Your roses need consistent moisture, but waterlogging the soil can increase the risk of diseases and root damage.

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Pruning roses regularly can also help keep the plants stay healthy. Regular pruning is best done in late winter to early spring for most types of roses. Cut out damaged, diseased or pest-infested rose branches when you spot them to limit the spread and damage. Always sanitize your pruning shears between cuts to prevent spreading diseases.

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Look for Signs of Pests

Aphids, Japanese beetles, spider mites, thrips and rose midges are common rose pests that can damage the bushes. You can often see the pests on the plants, especially if you have a major infestation. You can also see distortion in the leaves and flowers where the insects eat them or suck sap from them.

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Many rose pests can be removed from the branches with a steady stream of water from your garden hose. Avoid using chemical pesticides, which also kill the beneficial insects that can help control rose pests. Insecticidal soap is safe for most beneficial insects when used according to the label directions and is a nontoxic way to kill many rose pests, including aphids, leafhoppers, mites and thrips.

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Check for Rosebush Diseases

Rose diseases can also appear in the foliage and blooms. Many rose diseases are caused by excessive moisture, especially moisture on foliage that doesn't have time to dry before night. Keeping your bushes pruned for air circulation and being careful to avoid getting foliage wet can reduce the risk of diseases.

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Black spot is a fungal disease revealing itself in black leaf spots with leaves eventually turning yellow and falling off. Curled, twisted leaves with a powdery coating on them can be a sign of powdery mildew. Botrytis blight causes a gray, fuzzy growth, often on older, dying tissue, such as old flowers. Treatment for most of the fungal diseases starts by removing and disposing of the affected branches. Fungicide is also effective in preventing many common rose diseases, especially when applied to new growth as it emerges.

Other diseases have no cure. Crown gall causes growths on the stem at the soil line, which can stunt the rosebush's growth. The viral rose mosaic disease is another incurable disease that causes yellow lines on leaves and may stunt the growth or weaken the plant. Rose rosette causes irregular growing patterns, such as excessive thorns and deformed, reddish leaves and can cause the bush to decline. For all of these incurable diseases, removing and destroying the affected bushes to prevent spreading is the best option.

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