One of the most popular flowering plants in residential and commercial gardens, roses liven up any living space with their attractive colours, fragrances and forms. However, even hardy varieties of roses are subject to conditions that limit their growth. Act immediately if you notice the blooms or stems of the bushes beginning to droop or wilt.
Various diseases are responsible for rose bush wilt or droop. Verticillium wilt, a fungal disease of roses, causes the canes to droop and the foliage to turn yellow. Left untreated, the disease is irreversible and causes severe damage to the plant, including death. Botrytis blight, another disease, damages buds and causes them to droop. To treat the diseases and prevent rose bushes from drooping, purchase and plant disease-free rootstock. Trim off infected parts of the plant with sterilised pruning scissors, and discard clippings along with plant debris immediately to prevent the disease from spreading.
Insect pests can damage rose bushes, causing them to droop, wilt and become limp. Although an individual mite is difficult to see, large infestations cause rose bushes to lose foliage and wither. Aphids are tiny sucking pests that extract essential juices from different parts of the rose plant, stunting growth and causing them to droop and lose foliage. Borers or larvae of insects including rose stem girdler and stem sawfly damage stems, causing rose bushes to droop. Dislodge mites with a fast jet of water from a hose. Spray aphid infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil, or introduce natural predators including ladybirds and parasitic wasps to the rose plantings. To control borers, prune heavily infested parts of the bush and apply paint over openings along the plant to bar entry.
Improper irrigation causes rose bushes to droop, wilt and appear stunted. Roses need consistent irrigation throughout the growing season, preferably 1 inch of water every week. Increase the frequency and amount of water in hot climates or during prolonged periods of drought. Never allow the soil at the base of the rose bush to dry out completely, but ensure it remains evenly moist at all times. Spreading 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around the base of the rose bush helps retain soil moisture and keeps the roots cool.
Other factors responsible for drooping rose bushes include excessive weight on stems or canes and excessive heat. Sometimes the stem of a rose bush weighs itself down with excessive buds, especially after being watered, causing it to droop. Although roses thrive in six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily, exposure to extreme sunlight, especially in the afternoon, causes the foliage and thin stems to droop. In such a case, transplant the rose to a partially shaded spot or grow a taller plant behind it.
- Rose Gardens: Revive Wilting Roses
- University of Minnesota Extension; Rose Diseases; F. L. Pfleger, et al.; 1998
- Colorado Gardening: Questions & Answers: Roses
- University of Guelph; Insect Pests of Roses; Paula C. Richards; 2000
- Sunset: When Things Go Wrong
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Growing Roses; Karen Russ, et al.