Asked on Jul 24, 2013

My Rose Bush looks bad!!

My rose bush bloomed beautifully this spring and then I noticed some of the leaves had black spots. Before I had a chance to do anything all the leaves fell off and it looks dead. We have had bouts of rainy weather and then 90 degree heat and humidity (like most of the country). I read a little about black spot disease but my bush has no leaves to treat so what do I do with it now? A hard prune? It usually blooms most of the summer....
That's my rose bush with no leaves....
  27 answers
  • You had perfect conditions for black spot. I would clean up all the fallen leaves and place them in the garbage, not your compost. Then I would prune it back by 1/3. fertilize and keep it watered, it hopefully send out some new leaves. If any leaves show the black spot again pick them off and discard right away.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 25, 2013
    I think what Sensible Gardening suggests is about all you can do. Do make sure to dispose of all the fallen leaves.
  • Thanks for letting me know. I will post a picture of the renewed rose bush (when it grows back!).
  • Donna Bruffey Donna Bruffey on Jul 26, 2013
    Possible black spot, but... the deer hit most of my rose bushes, to my discontent! They strip flowers, leaves, and leave a totally bare rose bush. They also eat my veggie garden, grapes, and berries, plus other wildlife hit all of my fruit trees. Makes me a little angry that I've spent so much $$$, just so the wildlife can eat!!
  • Candy J Candy J on Jul 26, 2013
    I can relate to that Donna!!!!!!!
  • Black spot. Best to start fresh. Dispose of all leaves and bush well away from any other plant or area that you want to re-plant. It also does look like a deer got to it! So if you see any deer running around with black know what happened! :-)
  • Pat aka Queen of Thrift Pat aka Queen of Thrift on Jul 26, 2013
    Ortho has a product called "Rose Pride" that I like to use. It controls insects and fungus diseases. I have had great success this year with my roses by using the preventive method of spraying, especially in rainy weather, which we have had a lot of here in north Alabama this spring and so far this summer. I spray mine every two to three weeks, even if they are not showing signs of disease. Sevin is also good for insects, and any type of fungicide will work. The "Rose Pride" treats both insects and diseases and saves a lot of spraying time. We have had some deer damage to certain shrubs, but so far not our roses. Someone told us to use Dial soap. It worked for us! Cut a bar in half or quarters, depending on the size of your plant. Punch a hole in one corner and make a hanger from strong thread, fishing line, or garden twine. Hang it on a limb or stem. The deer do not like the smell of the soap. It worked for us, and it lasts a long time before it needs to be changed. Good Luck!
  • Louis Lieberman Louis Lieberman on Jul 26, 2013
    roses like cut up banana peels-;put them through a blender right after you peel them &dig them in around the roots/
  • Brenda De Lair Brenda De Lair on Jul 26, 2013
    What ever you do, please be careful about using insecticides. We are loosing our bees and I for one have seen the evidence in my garden. We desperately need them for pollunating or we wont even have all of our veg.
  • I went looking for the leaves so I could throw them away and there are none to be found!! We have had a few days of very high winds so I bet they all got blown off as opposed to falling to the ground. I seriously could not find any on the ground around the bottom of the bush!! I will be pruning and spraying....thank you Pat for the Rose Pride idea and Louis for the banana peel idea!!
  • Found & Fancied Goods Found & Fancied Goods on Jul 26, 2013
    So glad to see this post. I have a (normally) beautiful Julia Child rose bush that is 7 ft high and blooms from spring to fall. It did the same exact thing as yours...started out fine and now looks skeletal. Glad to know what to do now. Thanks everyone and thank you, AnnMarie for this post.
  • You're welcome Andie and thank you for helping me feel like I am not alone (or a bad gardener!!)
  • Natalie Scarberry Natalie Scarberry on Jul 26, 2013
    The plant is alive because the canes are still green. After you have made sure all the diseased leaves are gone from the soil beneath, get some corn meal (not from the grocery store) but from a nursery or feed store and sprinkle it on the ground under the rose and water it in. It may take several waterings to completely soak into the soil. It may also take several applications of the corn meal over the next year or so. Like someone above said try to remove all diseased leaves as they appear on the rose.
  • Phillip Williams Phillip Williams on Jul 26, 2013
    As several have noted, your rose has most likely come down with "black spot". With black spot it is not a matter of if, but when they will become infected. If you have roses, you will sooner or later have black spot. The fungus attacks the leaves and they eventually all drop off. Without leaves, the plants can no longer photosynthesize and so they die. The leaves need to be removed to prevent reinfection and pruning the plant way back will decrease the plants need for energy while it recovers. Spray the plant and the area with a fungicide (like Daconil or others) at least once a week until they recover and then drop back and use as needed. You might want to consult your local county extension agent for the name of a master gardener who specializes in roses.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 26, 2013
    I was with you till you got to the fungicide, Phillip. No, no, try corn meal, which is a natural fungicide, and non toxic to both you, your microbial life and earth worms. Clean up the under lying area, dispose of the dropped leaves. Give that poor baby a "gentle" haircut, 1/3 is perfect. Then turn the entire area yellow, plant and surrounding ground. I live in VA the state capitol for "black spot" and use corn meal on my roses regularly. I have not had a problem with black spot in 3 years on any of my roses. Since corn gluten contains an natural fungal suppressant, corn meal works like a charm. And as an added bonus any leftover corn meal can be turned into corn bread. What more could you want? LOL
  • Debbie Stanley Debbie Stanley on Jul 26, 2013
    Thank you Catherine and Natalie, I have had a time with blackspot in the past and used fungicide. I lost my roses anyway. I knew there had to be a natural way to treat it. We just planted multiple roses bushes this year and was worried about the same thing happening again.
  • Phillip Williams Phillip Williams on Jul 27, 2013
    As a master gardener and retired medical microbiologist, I am always looking for new information. I learned a long time ago that the holes in my knowledge base were a lot bigger than what was already there. So, when I saw these references to the use of corn meal as a fungicide, I knew that I had to research it. I questioned it primarily because corn meal agar has been used as a fungal growth medium by microbiologists for almost 100 years. Here's a great reference from the University of Wisconsin that debunks the stories about cornmeal as a fungicide. Apparently this story got started innocently enough, slightly misinterpreted and then repeated by a popular gardener and it then took off. Unfortunately it is all dead wrong... The biggest thing I have learned about information gleaned from the internet is never trust a source that can't back up what they say with real evidence based research. I always suffix my Google searches with :edu This will insure that all the references are from educational institutions and will therefore be more reliable than anecdotal information. Data that comes from any state Cooperative Extension Service is almost always good because they insist on real research based information.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jul 27, 2013
    Well, Phillip, I too happen to be a master gardener and a retired Dr. of Chiropractic. And I question to validity of the science research behind some of the research data being put forth by some of the land grant colleges. For one thing, I start looking for who is paying for the research, since here in VA I discovered both Scotts and Monsanto were funding the research into the long term effects of the use of Roundup and it was all good? Oh yeah, that's an interesting take on "good" science. Duke, Princeton, the University of Colorado, the University of Nebraska all tout the use of corn gluten for the suppression of weed seed and indicate that it does in fact act as a fungicide. I should mention I am a "former" master gardener, since I was an organic gardener long before I took the classes. I can't and won't support an organization that contributes to and supports big agi, in the ways I've seen. I am a rose freak and currently have close to 75 of these pretty babies, I will tell you, sir the corn meal does work! I have not had a speck of black spot on any of them in over 5 years.
    • Deane Deane on Mar 16, 2017

      Can you please give me directions as to how to use cornmeal on roses? Do you use the grocery store corn meal? Any directions will be greatly appreciated. My roses are about done for. Every year they get smaller & black spot seems to be the problem.

  • Natalie Scarberry Natalie Scarberry on Jul 27, 2013
    Anything is better than the toxic chemical fungicides. My garden is certified as a habitat and so I use NO toxic chemicals at all. I want all the bees and other good pollinators I can get. One last thing on the rose issue, I have about 70 roses, most of which are the old, antique roses as they are called. These are ever so much more disease resistant than the modern roses. I will post some photos of them later today. I highly recommend them to people who want to grow roses. If you can't find them in your local nurseries, look on the web for the Antique Rose Emporium here in Texas. They are a mail order nursery from which I've bought most of my roses.
  • Lora Collins Lora Collins on Jul 27, 2013
    Rose bushes...what I've learned from "old timers"...Epsom salts and most recently, banana peels. I would also dig up the bush if you can and wash off the old dirt (where you can dispose of it and not contaminate other areas of your yard) and replace with NEW dirt from a bag like Miracle Grow Gardening soil, soak well, and place banana peels around in the ground. A couple of days later I would also use fish emulsion. Most of my plants have survived and thrived when I have done these things. Please "google" the Epsom salts, I have not used them but my mom and her friends (70-90 yrs old) use them for new and existing plants. Good luck, you have gotten lots of advice,
  • Phillip Williams Phillip Williams on Jul 28, 2013
    Natalie, by definition, any fungicide is toxic no matter where it comes from. Hopefully whatever you use will only be toxic for the fungi attacking your roses... You are right on the money with your observation about the antique roses. They have survived for well over 150 years with little or no support from humans. It stands to reason that they would do well. (they have good genes...) I have several and with the exception of a few of the newer "earth-kind" roses they are all antiques. They fare much better against a lot of diseases. Catherine, you are right to question anything that you haven't investigated for yourself. Most of the legit research articles are available for us to read and I would suggest that more people spend the time to do so. You can make a truly informed decision if you look for yourself rather than depending on interpretation from others.
  • Natalie Scarberry Natalie Scarberry on Jul 28, 2013
    Same here, Phillip, I have some Knock Out roses, but the majority of mine are roses of antiquity and perform so much better in my Texas garden than the modern roses.
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Aug 14, 2013
    Oh this is so frustrating! A minor help in the future might be to prune branches that turn inside to the crown of the canes. This merely leaves less habitat for blackspot and allows the rose to grow more vigorously by allowing the crown to access more light.
  • Actually as of today my rose bush is coming back! It has leaves and buds growing again. I didn't do anything to it but cut off some dead branches!! Go figure!
  • Natalie Scarberry Natalie Scarberry on Aug 18, 2013
    Great, I'm so glad to hear it. Cutting out dead branches is always a good idea. It often sparks the plant into new life. I would continue being vigilant about keeping the leaves with black spot off the plant and from under it.
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Mar 16, 2017

    Using regular grocery corn meal is fine. Normally apply the corn meal early in the day, while the leaves are damp, that allows the corn meal to "stick on " better. Also sprinkle the corn meal heavily under the plants themselves. You want to make sure you clean as much debris as possible out from under the plants. You can water the corn meal on the ground so it will soak in. It will take time, but corn gluten contains a natural fungicide that suppresses and kills black spot spores. What's happening is the infected leaves are breaking down on the ground under the plant leaving a source of infection. When it rains or you water over the rose bushes, the water falling causes the spores to bounce back up to the plant. So you have a never ending cycle of reinfection. Hope that helps. PM me if you have other questions.