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Getting Rid Of Mildew On Your Roses

May 13, 2008
Mildew is every gardener's worst nightmare, especially those who have rose bushes. The most known and most common mildew that effects rose bushes is one known as sphaerotheca pannosa. This type of mildew is powdery. The mildew is usually a white or grey powder that is usually found on rose bush leaves, shoots, buds, and the petals. Once the mildew attacks the plant, it spreads very easily and a gardener will soon notice white patches on the rose bush. The fungus eventually sucks all of the nutrients and water from the leaves, which in turn kills the leaves. The leaves eventually shrivel up and fall off of the bush completely.

The common powdery mildew is not caused by free water on the rose bush's leaves and other parts; instead the mildew lives and thrives on hot, arid weather. In fact, watering your rose bush in the afternoon will help rid of some of the powdery mildew because it will break up the spores that are released by the mildew during the daytime. If you can afford to purchase fungicides, they are also helpful in getting rid of mildew. However, the fungicide will only be effective if you apply it at the right time.

Another type of mildew that is common on rose bushes is the Peronospora sparsa fungus. This fungus causes downy mildew, which opposite of powdery mildew, lives in a moist and humid environment. The mildew is usually found under the leaves of the rose bush. If you think your rose bush has been infected with a downy mildew, look for red, purple, or brown spots on the leaves. This usually ends in the leaves turning yellow and then falling off of the bush.

Unfortunately, this type of mildew is not as easily controlled as powdery mildew. Fungicides have not proven to be helpful; however, routine rose bush pruning increases air circulation, which then reduces humidity surrounding the plant. Regular seasonal pruning is very important to the health of your rose bush.

If you cannot afford to purchase fungicides to get rid of mildew, or you just prefer not to use them, there are a few simple steps that you can follow to reduce the chance of your rose bush becoming infected.

1. Before you plant your rose bushes, be sure that they are all spaced. Hybrid teas should have at the least, 3 ft. distances and bigger bushes should be no closer than 4 ft. Keeping the plants farther away from each other allows them all to dry out quicker after you water them. Lingering water can cause and attract mildew, so spacing is important. Also be sure that your rose bush is receiving enough sunlight. Rose bushes that do not get enough sunlight will have thin leaves that can be easily taken over by mildew.

2. Prune until you can't prune anymore! This is probably the easiest and most important. Prune whenever your bush needs it. That means year round, not just during the growing season. Pruning your rose bush prevents mildew from forming because the plant is able to receive enough air and sunlight that is spread evenly throughout the plant helps prevent mildew. Pruning a rose bush is very easy. During pruning season, prune your rose bush by cutting above the new buds. This ensures that the new growth will be pointed outward instead of inward. It is also important to take time to inspect your rose bush to keep an eye out for any forming mildew. If you spot any dead or infected parts of the bush, simply remove it and then throw it out in a sealed container so the mildew does not spread.

3. When you water your roses, water them carefully. To prevent the growth of mildew, water your plants at root level. This is most important when it is hot outside. Avoid getting water on the leaves, especially if you water your plants shortly before it is nighttime. If you do not water your rose bush at root level, the plant will become dehydrated, which is a trigger of mildew.

4. To save money and time, try this home remedy for rose bushes. Many gardeners, both old and new, use the stinging nettle. This spray is easy and quick to make. All you have to do is collect stinging nettle, put them in a sack, and crush the leaves. Then put the sack in water and let it sit in a warm environment for about a week or so. Then strain the water and dilute it with water. Use this liquid and spray it on your rose bushes every two weeks. It is sure to keep mildew away. If you do not have stinging nettle, you can make a similar spray with these simple directions:

You will need:

* 1 tbsp vegetable oil
* 1 gallon of water
* 1 tsp regular-flavored Listerine
* 1 tbsp liquid soap
* 1 tbsp baking soda
* 1 tbsp vinegar

Mix a cup of water with baking soda, Listerine, soap, and vinegar. Add all of this to a gallon of water and poor the liquid into a spray bottle. Shake it up and you're ready to spray!
About the Author
Check out The Joy of Rose Gardening now at http://www.roseflowergarden.com, to find great articles, advice, tips and much more on rose gardening topics.
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