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Tips on How to Get Rid of Aphids on Roses Naturally

By Edited Jun 18, 2016 1 1

Getting rid of aphids on roses the natural way

If you happen to see a lot of insects clustered on your roses, particularly on areas of new growth with leaves, shoots and emerging buds, they are most likely aphids.

Rose plants really attract these sap-sucking little pests, especially greenfly and blackfly. I have a close-up photo of a greenfly which will help you to identify it. These insects come in a number of colors including shades of green, black, brown and orange.

Since they are damaging to your plants, it is a good idea to limit their numbers and keep them off your prize blooms. They can damage new buds and pass on diseases which cause long-term issues with your plants. The tips here look at how to get rid of them naturally without the use of any chemicals.

How to Spot an Aphid Infestation

Greenfly and aphids

Rose shrubs and plants are attractive to lots of potentially damaging insects. They are especially liked by greenfly which is a type of aphid. These green colored insects love to feast on the sap of the plant. You can often find them on the underside of leaves which makes them hard to spot at first. [1]

Aphids become more visible when you already have a big infestation. You will typically find them on areas of new growth such as young shoots, leaves and buds. Look for these insects around the red areas of foliage which show newly growing parts of the plant.

These insects are difficult to spot since they are so tiny, often just a few millimeters in size. They blend well into the overall color of the foliage and stems. You may miss spotting them because they favor the underside of leaves. So you may not realize that they're on your plant until there's a rather large infestation.

If you see ants crawling around your plants, this is a big clue that there are aphids present. That's because ants love the honeydew that these bugs produce. Honeydew comes from the aphids feasting on the sap of the plant. An excess of this sugary fluid attracts ants who eat it. If there are lots of ants crawling around your roses, this is a sign that you have an aphid infestation. The ants themselves are harmless. 

Close-Up Image of a Greenfly Aphid

Greenfly on stem close up macro photo

I took this photo with the macro setting on my camera. The image of this greenfly gives you a really good idea of what to look for on closer inspection of your roses. Against a red stem, the green of this insect stands out well. However, when they are on a green area of foliage or the underside of a leaf, they become hard to spot. There are several ways to keep the numbers of aphids down without resorting to chemical warfare. [2]

1: Squirting Water and a Soft Soap Solution

One popular method is to arm yourself with a plastic spray bottle which has a setting to squirt a jet of water as well as a fine mist. You can simply fill this bottle with water and spray the affected areas on your roses with powerful jets. The streams of water knock the aphids off the plant.

Once they have fallen to the ground, these insects can naturally become prey to other living things in your garden. Just make sure that the jets of water are not so powerful that they damage your plant in the process.

As well as water, you can also try using horticultural soft soap. This is as a natural alternative to chemical insecticides. You can also make up a DIY solution of garlic water. Make this strong scented solution by blending a couple of garlic cloves along with some water and a small amount of washing-up liquid. These insects are apparently repelled by garlic. If you don't fancy getting your rose blooms wet and spoiling their appearance, there are other removal methods as well.

2: Brushing or Picking Insects Off

Pink pomponella rose

A dry method of removing these insects is to use a very soft bristled paint brush, about half an inch to an inch wide, and use this to gently sweep the aphids off your plants. This is a method that I prefer. You need a light hand so as not to damage any stems or growing buds. However a dry brush is just as good at knocking these pests to the ground as a spray of water. It has the added advantage that blooms and petals are not damaged by getting wet.

If you're not squeamish, you can use your fingers to pick these insects off. Some gardeners like to squash them so that there is no chance of the aphids coming back to do further damage. It's not for me but it is another natural method to use.

3: Natural Predator: The Ladybug

Ladybug ladybird pupae

One natural predator of these aphids is the ladybug, also known as a ladybird in the UK. This is a photo showing ladybug pupae on a leaf in our garden. If you see something that looks like this, don't squash it as it has the growing ladybug inside. This little bug is a gardener's friend because it will naturally eat greenfly, blackfly and other harmful aphids and insects.

Ladybug on plant stalk

There seems to have been a real shortage of ladybugs for us this year. I've only spotted a handful in our garden which is really unusual. I've also been reading forum concerns about this in other parts of the UK as well. If you've not got many, you might want to buy in some live ladybugs or larvae as a natural means of pest control.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated. 

4: Sticky Paper Aphid Traps

One last method you may want to consider, are aphid traps or sticky papers that these insects can fly into and meet a sticky end with. As well as killing these pests, you may also unwittingly trap other harmless insects that are actually beneficial in the garden. So be very aware of that before you go ahead and use this particular technique.

Enjoy Beautiful Rose Flowers at Their Best

Pomponella pink rose bush shrub

Whichever way you choose to keep the numbers of these insects under control, you can look forward to healthier rose plants which reward you with more beautiful flowers. I particularly love my pink roses called Pomponella because of the tight pom-pom blooms.

Left unchecked, aphids can cause a lot of damage to your plants. They can ruin your roses with shriveled and stunted buds and leaves as well as doing long-term damage. There are ways to control infestations without using chemicals that might harm other wildlife in your garden.

Image Credits: The introductory image belongs to the author, Marie Williams Johnstone. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.



Dec 18, 2015 3:43pm
My mum would throw the dishwashing water over her roses to get rid of aphids.
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  1. "Aphids." RHS. 14/12/2015 <Web >
  2. "Rose Aphids." RHS. 14/12/2015 <Web >

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