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6 Reasons Why Your Roses Are Dying & How to Fix It

6 Reasons Why Your Roses Are Dying & How to Fix It

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Roses are a popular choice among gardeners because of their delicate bright flowers, their sweet scent, and their glossy green leaves.

Rose bushes begin to flower during the late spring and early summer. Despite their popularity, roses can be quite tricky to care for and require regular attention.

If you begin to notice your roses wilting or the leaves of your roses turning yellow, you will need to take steps to keep your roses alive. The first step to doing so is to identify why they are dying. 

Why are my roses dying? 

The reasons why your roses are dying include insufficient sunlight, as they require six to eight hours daily; poor soil drainage; fungal diseases; pest infestations; and issues from overfertilization.

1. Fungal diseases 

One of the main problems roses suffer from is powdery mildew, a fungal disease caused by the Podosphaera pannosa fungus. 

While powdery mildew is usually not fatal, it can significantly weaken your rose bush, and when combined with other problems, this can lead to plant death.

Symptoms of powdery mildew disease include white fungal growth that begins to spread throughout the plant and affects both the top and undersides of leaves, discolored leaves and leaf curl. 

Powdery mildew prevents buds from opening and the fungus may begin to turn brown as it ages. 

Powdery mildew is often caused by insufficient air circulation and/or insufficient sunlight. To prevent powdery mildew, make sure your rose bush is planted in a location that gets between six to eight hours of sunlight per day. If it is badly situated, you may need to transplant it your rose bush.

You should also make sure your rose bush is spaced the right distance apart from any neighboring plants and is getting enough fresh air. 

Another fungal disease that causes rose bushes to die in extreme cases, is black spot. Symptoms of black spot include fast-spreading black or purple spots on the surfaces of leaves, leaves turning yellow around the spots and leaf drop. 

Rose bushes with black spot will shed almost all their leaves once the infection reaches an advanced stage. This leaves the plant weak and vulnerable to other problems. 

If your rose bush has black spot, take care to remove and dispose of the fallen leaves to avoid further spread of the disease.

Apply a fungicide to the plants leaves and repeat the application every three to four weeks for the remainder of the growing season. 

2. Pests 

Roses can be affected by a range of pests. The most common critters that take up residence in the leaves and petals of rose plants include aphids and rose leaf rolling sawfly. 

Aphids are a sap-sucking insect that will appear on rose bushes between March and August.

If your roses have aphids, the leaves of your plants will become sticky to the touch and you will see tiny pink or green insects in clusters on the leaves or buds of your rose bush. 

Aphids will also often shed their skins, which may lead you to see white spots on your roses.

If your rose bush is infested by aphids and the problem has become so severe that your plant is beginning to die, cut off the most affected areas and treat your roses with a healthy dose of insecticide.

Reapply the insecticide every two to three weeks for the remainder of the growing season. 

Another common pest that can cause severe damage to roses is the rose leaf rolling sawfly. Rolling sawflies lay eggs in rose leaves during spring and early summer, which causes leaves to roll up into curls.

When the eggs hatch, the pale green sawfly larvae eat the rolled leaves from the inside.

If your leaves begin to curl downwards and inwards between late April and early June, it likely means your roses have been infested by sawfly. 

Rose bushes affected by rolling leaf sawfly will only die in extreme cases, but you should take care to prevent infestations from growing by picking off the most badly affected leaves. 

Insecticides are not particularly helpful against rolling leaf sawfly, but you can apply a light does of a natural insecticide if you have noticed leaves curling downward. 

You can take preventative action to protect roses from bugs before problems arise. Check your flowers regularly for signs of pest activity. 

3. Inadequate Levels of Sunlight 

3. Roses require between six and eight hours of direct sunlight per day. If your rose is getting too much shade, you may need to transplant it to a location with better sun exposure. 

4. The Wrong Type of Soil

Roses need to be planted in fast-draining soil to avoid root rot, which can cause drooping roses and even plant death. 

Roses prefer a soil with a pH balance between slightly acidic and neutral. If you notice that your rose leaves are drooping or wilting, or if your blooms aren’t opening fully, try testing the pH levels of the soil your roses are growing in. 

If the pH levels are not between 5.5 and 7.0, you may need to work to make them more acidic by adding limestone to the soil around your rose bush. You may also want to read up on how to correctly adjust the pH levels in soil up and down

5. Over- or Underwatering

Roses are happiest in soil that is consistently moist but is not water-logged.

You should water your roses regularly but avoid having them sit in overly wet soil.

This leads to root rot, which, as indicated above, can cause your rose to die.  

If your roses are dying, consider whether you have been giving them too much or too little water, and if either is true, adjust your watering schedule accordingly. 

6. Overfeeding

While roses need fertilizer and are highly responsive to feeding and mulching, make sure that you are using a good fertilizer for roses and that you are not overfeeding your rose bush.

Roses should be fertilized every two to three weeks if you are using a granular fertilizer, or every four to six weeks if you are using a liquid fertilizer.

Any more than this can cause your plant to burn and in the worst cases may cause your rose bush to die. 

There you have it. The 6 most common reasons why your roses are dying.

Here’s a summary for you for quick reference:

Reason Why Your Roses Are DyingDescription of the ProblemPossible Solution
Fungal DiseasesRoses can be afflicted by powdery mildew and black spot, leading to discolored leaves and weakened plants.Ensure proper air circulation, sufficient sunlight, removal of infected leaves, and application of fungicides.
PestsAphids and rose leaf rolling sawflies can cause damage, leading to sticky leaves and leaf curls.Regularly inspect plants for pests, remove heavily infested areas, apply insecticides, and adopt preventive measures.
Inadequate SunlightRoses require daily sunlight; insufficient light can stunt their growth and vibrancy.Relocate roses to a sunnier location, ensuring 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Unsuitable SoilRoses need well-draining soil with a pH balance between slightly acidic and neutral.Test and adjust soil pH, if necessary, using limestone. Ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot.
Watering IssuesMaintaining consistent moisture without waterlogging is essential for rose health.Adjust watering routines based on the soil's moisture level, avoiding both extremes of too wet or too dry.
OverfeedingAppropriate and balanced fertilization is essential to prevent plant burning or death.Use the right type of fertilizer and follow recommended feeding intervals.