Disease Isn’t Rosy For Local Flowers

Rose Rosette is a virus that gets into roses through mites. (Courtesy Photo)
Rose Rosette is a virus that gets into roses through mites.

When Susan Knape noticed a weird growth on her roses, she knew something was wrong.

Rose Rosette disease had infected two of the Highland Park resident’s roses.

She went to Nicholson-Hardie, a nursery and garden center, and they advised her to uproot the plants so the disease wouldn’t spread.

“I pulled up both of my plants,” Knape said. “That’s really all you can do. There’s no treatment and in order for it to keep from hurting other plants and spreading, you have to pull up the rose. So I lost a rose that’s probably 20 years old.”

She also lost a relatively new rose and then pulled up surrounding roses just to be safe.

Bob Wilson, manager of Nicholson-Hardie, has been a rose expert for nearly 30 years and said he sees Rose Rosette as a problem this spring in the Park Cities. Knape said she saw it among her neighbors.

Rose Rosette is a virus that gets into roses through vector mites. The vector mites can float through the air, or come through cloth or even dog fur.

Wilson said Rose Rosette disease can be recognized when a stem is “very heavy clustered and three to 12 stems come when there should only be one.”

“It oftentimes looks distorted,” he said. “It’s 10 times more thorny, dwarfed, the bloom is nonexistent, it’s heavily deformed and clustered, and it doesn’t bloom.”

There is no cure for the disease and the only way to prevent or treat it is to remove the roses that have it.

“The disease manes the rose to the point of it might as well be dead,” Wilson said.

As Knape walked along her street, she left notes on her neighbors’ doors, informing them about the Rose Rosette disease in their plants.

“At first it looks like new growth but crazy new growth,” she said. “The branch doesn’t look normal. The branch doesn’t have any buds on it.”

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