Hello fellow readers, Michele of Sparta asked how to keep aphids off her newly adopted Knock Out Rose. Her other had been devastated by aphids last year and predicted Knock Out #2 would be impacted. Aphids are small sap-sucking insects destructive to plants that overwinter as eggs and are often called plant lice for a reason, so Michele’s worry is warranted.
I’ll have to admit I have a love-hate relationship with roses. I love the array of fabulous colors and hate the fact that I am not very good at growing them. They are fussy after all and take diligence to keep pests away. Even deer love them despite their prickliness!
The irony is 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 a while back. ‘It’s important to keep up with deadheading since faded blooms can look unsightly and breed disease,’ Scannilello writes. Need I say more?
The good news is Knock Out roses require relatively little care and flower prolifically. They push the old blooms out of the way when a new bud forms, eliminating the need to deadhead and are highly resistant to insects and disease.
Back to the aphid dilemma- Some say coffee grounds or 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 every day 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 using Dawn dish detergent is best. It’s right there’s banter of brand preferences, but bottom line, insects such as aphids, don’t like their mouths washed out with soap no matter the make and model.
Link to other columns about roses – A Rose is a Rose – Pests
Link to Stephen Scannilello’s book A Year of Roses