The Daily News | Master Gardener: Rose rosette virus is fatal and widespread

If you love your roses, you should be aware of a disease that can do them in. Rose rosette is a viral disease of cultivated roses and the wild multiflora rose. First observed in Manitoba, Canada in 1940, the disease has become widespread in regions of the U.S, especially parts of the south and Midwest. Rose rosette is a serious disease. Unfortunately, all cultivated roses (shrubs, hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and miniatures) appear to be susceptible to the disease, but there are a few native roses that may be resistant.

Rose rosette is caused by the rose rosette virus. The virus can be passed in several ways. It can be transmitted during propagation by grafting infected buds. In beds of cultivated roses, it may be transmitted from one rose to another via natural root grafts. The main culprit is a tiny mite that you can’t even see without a microscope. The eriophyid mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus) is a wingless mite that is amber to light yellow in color. It has two pairs of legs at the front of its worm-like body. The virus is transferred to the roses when an infected mite feeds. Eriophyid mites ‘travel’ on the wind. They may ‘balloon’ in air currents and be spread long distances. They can also travel on contaminated clothing and equipment. Multiple generations occur each year until fall when females look for a good place to over winter. Virus transmission occurs most readily from May through mid-July when plants are actively growing.

The multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) is a favored host of the eriophyid mite. Considered to be a noxious weed, the multiflora rose is often found growing in the wild, in hedgerows or old pastures. Rose rosette virus is particularly lethal to multiflora roses. The invasive population of multiflora roses has helped spread this virus around the United States.

Rose rosette virus is fatal. Scouting your roses for symptoms is vital to keeping it out of your…

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