There were lots of aphids on the rose tips and buds this week in the rose garden. The soft, sappy new spring growth on the roses brings them out in droves.
Aphids on roses can cause your new rose tips to wilt and become misshaped and curled. They can often cover the whole shoot and bud of the soft new growth causing it to droop over as they suck the sap out of it, so aphid control is paramount at this time of year, early Spring.
All this sap-sucking causes honeydew to be excreted out the other end of the aphid. This sweet, sticky substance attracts ants, so if you see lots of ants running up and down your rose bush, it’s a tell-tale sign you’ve got rose aphids.
It doesn’t take long for large numbers to build up in the right conditions. When that happens and they are completely smothering the new rose shoot or bud some of the aphids develop wings and then fly onto other parts of the same plant or to a nearby rose plant, where they happily produce more offspring to do their dirty work. Aphid control is important at this stage because they can also carry virus diseases from rose plant to rose plant.
There’s a few simple ways of getting rid of aphids on roses. You can usually blast them off with a jet of water from the hose spray nozzle, and that works pretty well if you can do that for a few days in a row. However here in our area we are on water restrictions so aren’t allowed to use our hoses. I have been known to just squish them while on the plant (with gloveson of course!). Not the most pleasant of activities to be sure, but it does the job if the infestation isn’t too heavy or you don’t have a lot of roses.
If you do have a really heavy infestation or lots of roses where it would take you all day to stand there and squish them by gloved hand, or you’re not able to use your garden hose, aphid control can be achieved by spraying your roses with some pyrethrum spray. Pyrethrem is a natural insecticide and regarded as a relatively safe spray to use in the garden, a lot of organic gardeners use it as a last resort, however, always follow the directions on the bottle.