Since the beginning of spring our rose bushes have really taken off and they are now literally covered in flowers and flower buds. Recently when I was having a closer look at one of the buds I noticed that it was covered in aphids. They were gathering on the new buds and sucking the moisture out of them. They were basically spoiling the look of the flowers before they had even had a chance to open! I was not happy to say the least!
We have put in quite a bit of effort this year making sure that our roses were pruned and fertilized at just the right time. So far the roses have been looking wonderful this year with lots of buds developing. I was not going to let a tiny little insect spoil my wonderful rose display!
While we have had aphids on our roses in the past, this year I couldn’t stand the thought of them spoiling all of our hard work. So I went searching for information about controlling aphids on roses.
I prefer to avoid nasty chemicals wherever I can so I was focusing on natural methods of aphid control.
Natural Control Methods for Aphids on Roses
- squashing them
- blasting them off with water
- encouraging natural predators
- using environmentally friendly insecticidal soap
I really want to avoid using insecticides if I can avoid it so I started off by having a go at squashing them and blasting them off with water!
Squashing aphids is a bit of an icky job but it is not as hard as you might think. Most of the aphids are found on the new growth and also on the buds, so they are quite easy to find. I just gently rubbed two fingers along the areas where I could see the aphids and they seemed to either fall off or squash quite easily. Don’t forget to turn the leaves where there is new growth and make sure that they are not hiding on the underside of the leaves.
I found that my fingers got a bit yucky and sticky but is wasn’t too bad. You could probably use gloves or I’m sure that most kids would love squashing bugs!
I also had a go at blasting them off with a jet of water. I thought that using the hose might be a bit of overkill (they do actually fall off quite easily) so I used a 2 litre pressure spray bottle. All I did was fill the bottle with water, pump to get some pressure and then squirt the roses. This was very effective at knocking off a lot of the aphids. It is best to do this early in the day so that the flower buds and leaves have a chance to dry out during the day.
As I spent time controlling the aphids I began to notice that there was evidence of natural predators at work. Firstly I managed to photograph a small wasp like insect on the roses which I later learned was a hoverfly. Hoverflies are natural predators of the aphid – so I say – go get ‘em little guys!
I also noticed that lots of the aphids were a light brown colour and appeared to be already dry and dead. I now know that this is the work of the Aphidius rosae wasp. This small wasp lays its eggs inside the aphids and the larvae then eat it from the inside out. This is another reason that I don’t want to use any insecticides because I don’t want to kill the good insects!
I found some great information about aphid control on roses and the Aphidius rosae here:
Other links that helped me understand how to control aphids on rose buses included:
If you read the above links you will learn that there are lots of different natural methods of controlling aphids and it is not necessary to turn to sprays as a first option. The manual control and natural predators that I have used and observed are just two of the alternatives. You can also look to the other plants that you have in your garden for help. For example plants such as garlic and onion will discourage aphids while plants like dill, coriander and lavender will attract the aphid’s natural predators.
We have found that manual control and natural predators seem to be working for us. We have about 25 rose bushes in our garden and manually squashing the aphids or squirting them with water was not very hard.
Also although the initial number of aphids appeared to be high, their numbers seem to be dropping now and this might be because we have seen lots of hoverflies around these last few days. They seem to be abundant on our flowering native plants! I’m now not as worried about the aphids and we are letting the natural predators do their thing!
As the Gardening Australia website suggested, aphids are probably best controlled by keeping your roses as healthy as possible. If they are healthy they will be less susceptible to pest attack.