How to Get Rid of Aphids on Rose Bushes?

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking pests and wreak havoc on your roses! They suck out plant juices, preferably on new growths, and turn their foliage yellow and deformed. So, controlling (natural ways) these aphids on roses take time but is worth the effort in the case of heavy infestations. However, early detection of aphids infestation is simple to get rid of during spring and summer. Let’s learn about aphids and how to prevent their infestations on garden roses.

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking pests and wreak havoc on your roses. They suck out plant juices, preferably on new growths, and turn their foliage yellow and deformed. So, controlling (natural ways) these aphids on roses take time but is worth the effort in the case of heavy infestations. However, early detection of aphids infestation is simple to get rid of during spring and summer.
Let’s learn about aphids and how to prevent their infestations on garden roses.

Why Do Roses Get Aphids?

Roses are the most popular perennial flowering plants in home gardens because of their luxuriant beauty. Unfortunately, these beautiful flower plants are also quite famous among sap-sucking pests. This includes aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, whiteflies, and spider mites because their new growths and buds are filled with plant juices. 
One such pest is the Aphid which is most common and destructive to rose plants. They draw out nutrients from rose plant tissues with the help of their piercing-sucking mouthparts. Aphids inject their stylets (syringe-like structure) to suck nutrients from phloem tissues to feed and reproduce.
Aphid infestation can worsen when new growth and flower buds are abundant on rose plants during spring and summer. They feed in large colonies on their host plants, preferably on the underside of leaves, once they establish suitable feeding sites.
Another reason for aphid infestations on the rose bush is susceptibility (do not possess the active defense against invaders) to various aphid species and diseases.

Are All Aphids the Same?

Aphid infestations are troublesome for home gardeners on rose plants because they draw out the plant’s fluids and result in pale yellow spots on rose leaves. Moreover, they need intensive management practices to eliminate these severe garden pests and maintain the healthy growth of rose plants and their striking flowers. 
There are various species of aphids that like to infest rose plants. This includes the rose aphid (Macrosiphum rosae), the cotton aphid (Aphis gossypii), and the potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae).
The rose aphid (Macrosiphum rosae) and potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae) are the most common among these species and remain on roses from Spring through fall.
Unlike other rose pests, these rose aphids remain on their host plant throughout the growing period. Yikes! Therefore, rose growers or enthusiasts consider this perennial flowering plant trouble because it needs constant aphid management practices.

How to Spot an Aphid Infestation on Your Roses?

Aphids on rose buds
Rose aphids are easy to identify as they infest the flower buds and developing shoots. They feed on new growth vigorously and secrete copious amounts of a sticky substance known as honeydew.
The honeydew secretions attract and assist the growth of secondary pests such as black ants and sooty mold fungus. Black ants nourish and guard these tiny aphids and interfere with their natural enemies, while the sooty mold fungus turns the leaves black and impacts the photosynthesis process. The perfect storm some might say!
Under high numbers of rose aphids (Macrosiphum rosae), the honeydew secretions cover the entire leaves and flower buds. As a result, they are distort growth and reduce the size of the bud.
Large populations of feeding aphids causes stunted growth, loss of vigor,  and deformed leaves with yellow and black spots. 
On host plants, rose aphids appear as small creatures with pink, orange, or light green color body. They are almost one-eighth inches (3 to 5 mm) in size with pear-shaped bodies. They are commonly found on the underside of leaves for feeding and breeding.
The characteristic damage of aphid infestations is:
  1. Stunted growth with black spots on the rose stem (black sooty mold growth)
  2. Downward curling of leaves
  3. Yellowing of leaves due to chlorosis and reductions in flower quality
Note: The early detection of aphids is key to getting rid of them. Once their populations explode, much more difficult to control and revive the plant. While in low numbers, they cause minor damage in terms of rose plant aesthetics.

How to Prevent an Aphid Infestation?

They key to preventing aphid infestations on rose plants comes down to prevention by first selecting a pest-resistant variety! A few disease-resistant varieties include good old-fashioned or heirloom roses, landscape roses, hybrid tea roses [1].
The following prevention strategies are also helpful with long term protection from aphids in your rose garden.
  1. Regularly monitor the rose plants for aphids, mainly on the underside of leaves, for early detection at least twice a week.
  2. Prune off the old, weak, and damaged leaves and branches to destroy the overwintering eggs before the bud break.
  3. Use a garden hose with high streams of water on the underside of leaves to kill and wash off the rose aphid infestations (adults and larvae). Repeat every 3 to 5 days to destroy the aphid population.
  4. In the case of minor populations, remove the aphids manually with the help of a soapy water spray (liquid dish soap and water), neem oil, or other insecticidal soap.
  5. Encourage growth of beneficial insects for your rose bushes. Aphids have many natural enemies, including parasitic wasps, green lacewings, lady beetles, and hoverflies. 
  6. Aphid predators will feast on all stages (eggs, larvae, and adults) of this pest and prevent their large numbers of infestations in home gardens.
  7. The presence of ants near the rose plant can indicate an aphid infestation. So, managing black ants is critical in preventing large numbers of aphids because ants tend them and protect them from natural predators. To control ants, put a band of sticky material such as tanglefoot around the rose stem to prevent the climbing.

How to Kill Aphids on Roses?

Common practice is to use a garden hose with strong water spray, and beneficial insects to control large populations of aphids in both indoor and outdoor gardens. The warm temperatures in late Spring help aphids decline and provide sufficient pest control. 
During the peak growing season, rose plants rapidly develop and constantly produce new leaves (susceptible to pest infestations). Therefore, the natural control methods are supplemented with insecticide sprays to protect new growth and kill aphids.

Conventional Means With Chemicals

One of the best and easiest conventional methods to kill aphids on roses is with chemical treatment. Lets break it down:
  1. Keep your rose garden clean, and remove any fallen, dead, and damaged rose leaves as they may provide them hiding place to overwinter
  2. Cut out your rose plant's curled, twisted, and discolored leaves and adequately discard them because they may spread aphids to other healthy rose plants. Do not put these pruned plant materials into the compost pile (it may contaminate the natural fertilizer).
  3. Do not overfertilize your rose plants with a nitrogen fertilizer to support the new leaf growths and aphid reproduction. Instead, apply an organic and less soluble form of nitrogen fertilizers such as urea-based in smaller amounts throughout the growing season.
  4. Keep an eye for weeds or alternate hosts such as mustards and sowthistle that may attract aphids into your rose garden. Remove these weeds before spring or the growing season to control infestation of aphids.
  5. Use reflective mulches such as silver-colored to repel the invading populations of aphids and reduce their damage to new growths and flower buds. To settle the mulch in your garden, remove the weeds, cover the plant beds with silver covers, and bury their edges to keep the sheets in place. These silver mulches will repel the aphids and improve the growth of rose bushes by reflecting sunlight onto leaves.
  6. Along with silver reflective mulches, spray rose plants with insecticidal soap to deter the aphids. Reapply this weekly for the best results.
  7. Another best and natural insecticide to kill aphids is soap water spray. Apply mild dilutions of soapy water, particularly on the underside of leaves, weekly.
  8.  One of the best and must-use insecticides in gardens is “rose systemic” (Disyston) to kill aphids, leafhoppers, and thrips.

Natural Pesticides

Using natural pesticides against aphids is a win-win situation for gardeners and plants. These natural insecticides protect rose plants from harmful pests and help gardeners achieve their goal of healthy and beautiful plants. The natural pesticide include;
  1. Use petroleum-based horticultural and plant-based oils such as neem oil and canola oil. These oils suffocate the aphids and instantly kill them. Neem and horticultural oil sprays provide pest control at all stages within their life cycle and need repeat applications.
  2. Insecticidal soaps such as Safer soap spray provide effective aphid control in rose plants. Applying these insecticidal soaps helps gardeners get rid of low and high aphid populations quickly. These soaps penetrate the hard outer covering of the insect body and cause death due to dehydration. These insecticidal l soap sprays are better for pollinators and other beneficial garden birds (also non-toxic to humans, pets, and children).

Bringing Predatory Insects to Your Garden

Natural predators are significant in the control of aphids on roses. These beneficial insects have various modes of action to kill and diminish aphids, such as;
  1. Parasitic wasps deposit their eggs within the aphid, and developing wasp larvae feed on the body fluids of these garden pests, thus killing them.
  2. Ladybugs are the aggressive predators of aphids and whiteflies. They primarily feed on all stages of aphids, including adults, young, and eggs, and keep the aphid populations in control.
  3. Hoverflies (the larval stage of syrphid flies) are a significant predator of aphids and actively feed on them.  They are often present in the colonies of aphids as legless larva and control the aphid colonies.
  4. Green lacewings also effectively control the aphid population in rose gardens because their adult and larvae actively feed on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
Note: Encourage these beneficial insects in your garden by providing them with food, either host plants or other insects, to control outdoor garden pests organically.

Why is Controlling Aphid Important?

Controlling aphids on roses is vital; otherwise, aphid infestations (heavy populations) will remain throughout the growing season and harm the entire plant.
  1. Aphids prefer to feed on plant sap and suck it out by piercing mouthparts from the phloem tissues. The more sap these bugs suck, the more rose plant loses their vigor against invaders. At the same time, they excrete this sap in a sticky substance (honeydew) which supports the growth of black sooty mold fungus and ants.
  2. Black sooty mold fungus spreads over the entire leaf surface and causes black spots, thus compromising the cosmetic value of leaves and the whole plant.
  3. They breed sexually and asexually and have many generation cycles during the growing season.
  4. Aphids are challenging to control because they overwinter as eggs or adults in weeds and other plants.
  5. Aphids transmit many plant viruses in perennial flowers and vegetables, such as a rose yellow mosaic virus (RoYMV) and rose mosaic virus (RMV)—caused by aphid transmitted viruses. That’s why the control of aphids on roses is essential.

Discover and Shop the Right Plants at Neverland

Roses are the most popular perennial flowering plant in the world. It adds beauty and luxuriant fragrance to the indoor and outdoor spaces. Also, their flowers are a symbol of love. 
Get your favorite rose plant from Neverland with the best care guide. 

FAQs About Aphids on Roses

Neverland logo
Let nature be your guide.
Enter Neverland, download the app that helps you explore your green side.™
Neverland QR Code
Neverland surfer