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The rose is an iconic flower (especially red roses); if ever one flower embodied the very essence of romance, passion, and love, it is the rose.

But, growing roses isn’t always all sunshine and butterfly kisses… there are numerous possible issues you should be aware of with your rose bushes.

What are the most common problems with rose bushes? Though modern roses are bred to be disease-resistant, heirloom plants still face many problems. Aphids, black spots, rose powdery mildew, diebacks and leaf-rolling sawflies are some of the common rose problems. 

The article describes how to identify and fix some of these problems, so read on!

Identifying and Fixing Common Problems With Roses

cheerful diverse women sitting near a poorly blooming rose in garden
Photo by Gary Barnes on – This rose bush isn’t looking so great, pests are eating it’s leaves and buds

There is a subtle difference among the various rose problems so it’s crucial to understand exactly what is causing the problem your bush is suffering from, and which parts are affected the most.

In the following sections, we break down all the major problems you’re likely to encounter while growing rose bushes.

Problems With Rose Bushes (and Solutions)

Roses are quite a bit different than the other popular flowers grown in yards and gardens around the world. For one, they are perennial, so they grow back year and year (versus seasonals, that need planting every year), secondly, a lot of them have thorns as well.

Rose bushes also have a significant amount more foliage than other flowers and attract different sorts of bacteria, pests, and diseases.

Some of the most common rose problems with rose bushes and how to fix them are:

1. Black Spot and Leaf Spot

One of the most common problems with rose bushes is “rose black spot.” They start as small black spots on the leaves, fuzzy around the edges, then enlarge becoming yellow-edged, eventually turning the entire leaf yellow and brown.

Additionally, rose leaf spots also start out as small circular spots evolving into a purple halo and as it worsens and dies out the center turns gray. 


Remove affected plant parts, thoroughly clean up fallen leaves, and place a layer of mulch. If this doesn’t work try spraying Bordeaux Mix, neem oil, sulfur, or other non-commercial products like baking soda or milk remedy. 

2. Aphids and Japanese Beetles

The pests known as Aphids result in distorted flowers and leaves that curl up and wrinkle, turn yellow or brown, and fall off. They also have a sticky honeydew substance.

Another major pest that bugs rose bushes (haha get it? another pest that bugs your rose bushes?), Japanese beetles feed on flower buds, flower petals, and leaves, where the plant ends up with a skeletonized appearance.


Hose off the plants all over multiple times to control aphids. If this doesn’t work either completely coat the plant with insecticidal soap or use predators such as lady beetles. 

To control Japanese beetles simply hand-pick them, preferably in the grub stage.

3. Powdery Mildew

This all too common problem with rose bushes, known as powdery mildew, results in plant parts that are covered in a greyish-white, mold-like coating.


Spray homemade milk sprays to effectively control this problem.

4. Weevils and Thrips

Weevils result in flowers with ragged holes, while thrips result in yellow streaked and twisted leaves, brown-streaked and dried-up blossoms, and flower buds that either are deformed and unable to open or fall off. They are among the most common pests that affect rose bushes.


Remove symptomatic buds and debris clean-up to effectively manage both problems. In addition, you may benefit from thrip preying on predators and hand-picking weevils off your roses. For severe infestations use horticultural oils or insecticides.

5. Mosaic Virus

The mosaic virus of rose bushes results in yellowing of leaves with mosaic, ring-like, and/or wavy line patterns, yellowing of the veins, having a mottled appearance, and/or dead areas. The plants exhibit overall poor vigor, having few flowers and stunted growth. 


This can only be avoided by buying plants that have been certified virus-free.

6. Crown Gall

The disease called crown gall usually starts off as a small growth near the soil line, pale-colored, somewhat round becoming rougher, irregular shaped, and hard as they grow.


Simply dig up the plant and dispose of it and don’t use the soil area for replanting for at least five years.

Suggested Reading: How to Grow Roses: Gardening Guide

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