Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Aphids on Roses

pink and red roses in the middle of a hedge of boxwood in front of a park bench

Hello, fellow readers.

My friend Michele of Sparta, NJ, asked how to keep aphids off her newly adopted Knock Out Rose. Knock Out Roses have become a go-to in the garden as they require relatively little care and flower prolifically. They push the old blooms out when a new bud forms, eliminating the need to deadhead, and are highly resistant to insects and disease. But if aphids move it, it can devastate a plant as they did on her other Knock Out rose the year prior. Aphids are small sap-sucking insects that overwinter as eggs and are often called plant lice for a reason, so Michele’s worry is warranted.

Yucky Aphids on a rose bud

Yucky Aphids

I’ll have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with roses. I love the array of fabulous colors and hate that I am not very good at growing them. They can be fussy at times and take diligence to keep pests away. Even deer love them despite their prickliness!

The irony is that I own Stephen Scannilello’s revised edition of the Award-Winning Classic A Year of Roses, which describes the month-to-month labor of love necessary to keep roses healthy. Do roses take 12 months a year to maintain? Yes and no. Love and hate. I was inspired to buy Stephen’s book after hearing him speak. “It’s important to keep up with deadheading since faded blooms can look unsightly and breed disease,” Scannilello writes. I wonder if he means Knock Out Roses, too.

Back to Michele’s aphid dilemma- Some say coffee grounds, tea leaves, even banana peels at the base of the plant work, or apple cider vinegar in a ratio of 1-ounce vinegar to 3 ounces of water sprayed on the plant. Others swear by the soap method—mix 3 cups of warm water with two squirts of liquid dish detergent. Spray directly onto the rose bush daily until insects are no longer evident. Repeat one to two times per week to keep bugs away. Some add a half cup of baking soda to the soap-water combo to add bitterness.

Michele heard that Dawn dish detergent is the best soap to use. There’s banter about brand preferences, but the bottom line is that insects such as aphids don’t like their mouths washed out with soap, no matter the brand.

Garden Dilemmas? (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast:


Updated 6/2/24

Link to other columns about rosesA Rose is a Rose – Pests

Holy Moly Rose Remedies 

Link to Stephen Scannilello’s book A Year of Roses

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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