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The Home Depot

Why are My Roses Dying?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > Why are My Roses Dying?
Why are My Roses Dying?

A beautiful rose garden can be a source of pride and enjoyment to the home gardener. As you pamper and tend your roses, you can feel significant accomplishment as they thrive and grow strong. Sometimes, however, roses experience issues and need extra care to stay healthy.

Because growing roses can be challenging, you’ll find an expansive array of information to grow them and keep them flourishing. The Ohio State University Extension provides a fact sheet that gives important information about planting and growing roses. If you have trouble with roses dying, you will also find helpful information to help you troubleshoot what the problems might be.


Once you narrow the reason for your roses dying, you’ll be ready to resolve the health issues and work toward making your roses healthy once again.

  1. 1.Fungus

    Fungal infections can be devastating to roses. Several different types of fungal infections can be common to roses, including black spot, powdery mildew and downy mildew. If you live in an area with high humidity and excessive rainfall, you may notice black circles or blotches on the leaves of the roses, indicating black spot fungus. If you live in an area with dry days and moist, cool nights, you may notice a powdery substance on leaves and the foliage beginning to curl. Without intervention, the rose bush with fungus will probably die. Keys to improving the fungal infection include pruning away all infected foliage and discarding them in the trash. Apply a fungicide to the bush every one to two weeks when you notice the fungal infection.

  3. 2.Bugs and Pests

    A number of insects enjoy munching on rose bushes. Aphids will feed on the newest growth of the rose bushes. Japanese beetles will also congregate on rose bushes to exact significant damage. Spider mites can be another issue for roses. You’ll know if you have spider mites because they create fine webs between leaves and stems. Tiny thrips may feast on rose blossoms, causing noticeable damage to the plants. Rose midge flies produce larvae that will decimate a rose bush. You may control some insects such as spider mites and Japanese beetles by picking or spraying them off the plants regularly. Other pests such as rose midge and thrips will need insecticides to control.

  4. 3.Bad Drainage

    Roses need effective drainage in the soil to prevent the roots from becoming water-logged. If the soil around your roses does not drain effectively, you will begin to see signs of bad drainage in the roses. Look for the foliage turning yellow and then dropping from the plants. Eventually, you may notice bare stems on the rose bush. Rose blossoms will also show signs of stress, usually looking smaller and weaker than normal. If you notice signs of bad drainage, amend the soil to make it lighter.

  5. 4.pH

    Roses can be a significant investment. Before proceeding with a rose garden, check the soil to ensure it has the proper pH level for rose plants. The pH level of soil is the level of acidity or alkalinity. An acidic soil would have a pH level of less than 7 and an alkaline soil would have a pH level of more than 7. For best roses, strive to create a slightly acidic soil – generally between 6.0 and 6.5. To raise pH levels, add lime to the soil. To lower pH levels, add garden sulfur to the soil.

  6. 5.Too Much Shade

    The roses you plant must fit the sun exposure of your planting area. Some roses need full sun, some need partial sun and some rose varieties will tolerate shade. If your rose variety does not fit the sun exposure of your growing area, it will not survive. Check growing specifications for each rose variety to ensure that the requirements for growing match your growing area. If you have the wrong rose planted for growing conditions, the only alternative would be to replace the rose bush with one that fits your growing environment.

  7. 6.Fertilizer

    Rose bushes need specific nutrients to thrive and grow in the soil. For best results, provide roses with a balanced fertilizer, containing equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. You may also wish to provide additional macronutrients to your roses, including calcium, sulfur and magnesium. These macronutrients are often present in special rose fertilizers. Many rose gardeners also provide roses with Epsom salts because they contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate can enhance blossom color, increase the number of flowers and eliminate salt buildup in the soil.

  8. 7.Change the Soil

    If the soil around your roses is too heavy and you need to improve the drainage, you can change the soil by adding sharp sand, perlite or gypsum to the planting area. For best results, it’s optimal to perform soil improvements before you plant the roses or you risk disturbing them. If this is not possible, you may need to temporarily remove the roses from the planting area to amend the soil. Add organic materials and sharp sand to the planting area, mixing the materials well, and then return the roses to the ground.

  10. 8.Trim the Roses

    Roses also need regular pruning and trimming to keep them healthy. Regular pruning will keep the rose plants healthy and enable them to produce larger blossoms on stronger stems. Pruning will also keep the plants free of diseased or damaged growth, which could threaten the health of the entire plant. The best time to prune a rose bush is at the end of the dormant season before the plant begins actively growing again. Remove all dead canes and discard them. Also remove new sucker growth from the base of the plant. Leave the healthiest four to six canes growing on the plant and it will respond with healthy and energetic growth.


    Once you finish troubleshooting your rose bushes, you should be able to resolve problems and enjoy a beautiful rose garden filled with a variety of colors. Visit our Landscaping section for more rose-growing and gardening tips and suggestions as you tend your rose garden, too.

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