Ask rose enthusiasts what plant disease they would vote off the face of the planet, and their answer will inevitably be Blackspot.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on March 26, 2007.)
Thanks to the introduction of many new rose cultivars with built-in blackspot resistance, this fungal problem isn't what it used to be. But what if you are nursing a rose that isn't quite so sturdy?
As the name suggests, blackspot appears as circular dark blotches surrounded by a ring of yellow on infected leaves. It cannot be cured, so it's best to remove and destroy infected leaves and canes. On still-healthy areas of the plant, take these actions to prevent Blackspot from completely owning your rose:
Because blackspot is a fungal disease that feeds on high humidity, it's important to monitor your watering habits. First, don't irrigate late in the evening before water has a chance to evaporate from leaf surfaces. Better yet, water at ground level.
Also, make sure there is plenty of air flowing around and through each plant. Fungus loves to grow in moist, stagnant air, so prune your roses periodically, especially after each bloom period. (Tempting as it may be to cut roses for a bouquet after a refreshing rain, you should always avoid touching plants when they're wet. This can also spread fungus spores.)
A teaspoon of baking soda per quart of water is a fairly effective fungus-preventing foliar spray. Some say spritzing milk on the plant works well too. My personal preference is a of spraying Neem oil, which packs a one-two punch as both an insecticide and fungicide, but isn't harmful to beneficial insects.
About Tamara Galbraith
I am an avid organic gardener and certified Master Gardener for Collin County, Texas (that's North Dallas). However, I don't take being an MG too seriously, as I still manage to kill plants on a regular basis.
I enjoy growing nearly everything: vegetables, herbs, tropicals, roses...the only plants I'm really bad with are orchids and houseplants. I am also a fierce defender of spiders.
When not gardening I can be found cooking, birdwatching or hugging on either my sweet English hubby or my two wonderful doggies, Ray and Bailey.