Managing Rose Rust

Author: Meera, December 30, 2012

I found rust on the undersides of leaves on some of my hybrid tea and floribunda roses while strolling around the farmette this morning. Usually by this time of year I have plucked off all the old leaves and cut the canes down to between 12 and 18 inches. The cutting back of hybrid teas and floribundas is necessary since those rose bushes produce flowers on new growth. Removing the leaves and cutting out the dead wood as well as pruning back the canes this time of year (end of December) encourages dormancy. I’m just now getting around to doing these chores.


Removing the foliage and destroying disease-infected leaves is a must. Do not put these in your compost pile. I keep a little bag next to me when I’m working with the roses in case I find evidence of rust or powdery mildew or black spot. Wind, rain, and overhead watering can spread the spores of these diseases. Destroying the leaves ensures that the plant gets a new start in the spring and that diseases cannot winter over on the foliage.


Rust most often appears on roses when the plant has moisture on its leaves for several hours. The rust infection looks like orange or yellow spots on the underside of the leaf. Eventually, it can migrate to the topside of the leaf as well. Leaves infected with rust will discolor and drop to the ground.



The long term solution to dealing with rust is to use drip irrigation or a soaker and to avoid overhead watering of your roses. As soon as you noticed rust, black spot, or mildew, remove and destroy any infected leaves and stems. Clean beneath the base of each plant and mulch with organic materials. That way, come spring your rose can start anew, producing strong canes, healthy leaves, and gorgeous blooms.

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