Aphids are an annoyance of every gardener. No matter what you do to fend them off, they always find a plant to feed on. They are ferocious hunters, fast at devouring plants, and even faster at breeding.
All the things you do to force your roses to bloom only wind up feeding the aphids, growing their population.
Aphids are attracted to the new growth of roses. Look for them on new foliage, the stems, and the tips of leaves.
You will not find one. Aphids congregate. You will find a cluster of them.
Read on to discover the most effective strategies to eliminate aphids from a rose bush before they mature and spread throughout your garden.
How to get rid of aphids on roses
Most aphids are wingless. A forceful blast of water knocks them off and they will eventually starve. Insecticidal soap is an organic contact pesticide to use on adults that climb back up. To get rid of a big aphid population, release beneficial insects. Ladybugs and green lacewing feed on aphids.
Pick them off by hand
Hand-picking is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is the safest solution for a small number of aphids.
Regularly inspecting for plant bugs is a good way to catch the occasional aphid before the population gets out of control. Which it will.
Aphids are asexual most of the year. That is why most are females.
When they give birth, nymphs are already impregnated. They give birth to their first offspring within a week, then those reproduce at a rate of up to 5 offspring daily, each already a pregnant mother.
Colonies quickly grow out of control.
The first stage in preventing aphids from reproducing on your roses is to keep an eye on the new growth for any that do arrive.
The new tips with the most juices and the flowers are where aphids start.
When the aphids have been around for over a week, a quicker solution is needed.
Hose them off with water
The garden hose is the quickest way to rid a rose bush (or any garden plant) of a colony of aphids. This will only work if you catch the aphids within the first month.
Mature adults have wings and can fly to other plants. The nymphs are wingless and very weak climbers.
When the wingless aphids are hosed off the plant into the soil, there are no nutrients for them to feed on. Since they are weak climbers, they will most likely starve.
The adult aphids with wings can leap for survival and get back onto the plant.
The other reason to hose the plant with water is to wash the sticky residue off the leaves. Aphids secrete honeydew, a sugary substance that becomes a food source for ants.
Aphid excrement poses a risk of sooty mold. That needs to be washed off or else sunlight exposure will be reduced, photosynthesis hampered and leaves will likely wilt, dieback, and fall off.
All sap-sucking insects excrete honeydew. To create a balanced ecosystem in the garden, it is good to know how to protect roses from bugs, while still keeping them attractive for beneficial insects that feed on soft-bodied insects and pollinate the garden.
If your garden hose has various settings, use the most powerful one. The more forceful the blast of water, the more likely it is aphids will be knocked off the rose bush.
Wash the leaves with insecticidal soap
As most of the aphids are wingless, the garden hose is enough to get rid of all the wingless aphids.
That can be enough to bring the population to a manageable level for a contact pesticide to be used. Insecticidal soap is the safest organic option.
Do not use recipes you find on the internet listing “dish soap” because that is synthetic. It is why dish soap is a powerful degreaser. It strips oils like gangbusters.
Leaves on plants are covered in natural oils. It will destroy those protective layers.
Insecticidal soap is what to use as an insecticide spray. The soap itself does nothing. It needs to be diluted in water, then sprayed directly onto aphids.
On the leaves, it does nothing because it works as a contact insecticide. Not a systematic one that gets absorbed by the roots making the sap toxic to aphids.
Use an insecticidal soap spray when you can see the aphids feeding on the plant.
Because this kills aphids only as a direct contact insecticide, repeat treatments will be needed.
Make a solution up in a spray bottle and repeat treatments daily. Follow the instructions on the label because different brands have different mixing ratios.
The insecticidal soap needs to be applied in the morning because it can damage plants in warm temperatures. Do not treat plants when temperatures are above 85-Fahrenheit.
Spray in the morning so the leaves are dry by the time the warm afternoon sun arrives.
Aggressive aphid control for BIG populations
For huge colonies of aphids, biological warfare is the safer alternative to going heavy on pesticide applications.
Two insects feed on soft-bodied insects. Those are ladybugs and green lacewings. You can order these online to release in your garden.
These are only effective for large colonies. If there is not a large enough population of aphids to feed beneficial insects, they will fly away to somewhere that has a better food source.
For smaller colonies, order the ladybug larvae or green lacewing eggs. They are sold in lower quantities and it is the larvae that feed on aphids more than adults.
Once the larvae mature (4 weeks to 8 weeks), if the population of aphids on your roses is not enough for them, they move on. Just like the ants will when their food source (honeydew) is reduced.
Beneficial bugs may not get rid of all aphids, but they will reduce the population to a manageable size that can easily be managed by knocking them off the plant.
Frequently Asked Questions related to getting rid of aphids on roses?
Why do beneficial insects not stay when there are plenty of aphids to feed them?
The more aphids there are the more honeydew coats the leaves. That is a food source for ants. Another beneficial bug, however, they farm aphids protecting them from predators. Ants get aggressive with ladybugs. Reduce the size of the aphid population, ants move on, then release the beneficial bugs.
Do yellow sticky traps get rid of aphids?
Yellow sticky traps are used to monitor insect populations. Not for aphid control. They will catch the occasional flying aphid, and also any flying insect. Beneficial or not. As the majority of aphids actively eating a plant are wingless, they cannot fly into or onto a yellow sticky trap.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.