Rose Rosette Disease: What is it?

If you’re like me, more than once this past summer you walked through your precious rose garden to see your lovelies, then, spotting an oddly deep red and thorny shoot, you clutched your chest and gasped, “NO! NOT ROSE ROSETTE!” Then, after snapping a few photos of the treacherous canes, you took to the Internet to consult your fellow rosarians.

Thankfully, rose enthusiasts are always helping one another out on social media. In a few clicks, I concluded that my roses merely had healthy juvenile growth (Item C in the image below), and not Rose Rosette disease.

Image courtesy of the Rose Geek

What is Rose Rosette Disease?

Rose Rosette Disease is an epidemic in roses that causes the plant to die, and for which there is currently no known cure. The pathogen is Rose Rosette Virus (RRV), which is transmitted by a microscopic, plant-loving mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus. If you’re familiar with spider mites, those tiny specks that infest everything from garden plants to house plants, then keep in mind that P. fructiphilus is even smaller. These mites can travel easily from plant to plant by walking, or long distances by the wind.

Scientists are currently researching best practices for disease management, as well as breeding rose cultivars for disease resistance. Until a cure is found for RRD, what can the average rosarian do?

The Rose Geek’s Rundown on RRD

“The Rose Geek” is a rosarian who offers a wonderfully informative YouTube channel (check it out here), and she also hosts a Facebook group where fellow gardeners swap photos and advice. So, when I wanted to know if my rose had RRD, I went directly to Rose Geeks Facebook page, where I was able to glean what I needed from others who posted.

Recently, The Rose Geek herself wrote and shared the below article, “What can you do to help fight Rose Rosette Disease (RRD)?” I am grateful to her for sharing this quick rundown on RRD, especially the images which demonstrate types of growth which can easily be mistaken for the disease.

Image courtesy of the Rose Geek
Image courtesy of the Rose Geek
Image courtesy of the Rose Geek

Further Info on RRD

For further information on RRD, I recommend the following resources:

Managing Rose Rosette Disease in the Landscape – webinar hosted by Star Roses and Plants via YouTube

The Everyday Rose Show: A Discussion about Rose Rosette Disease with rose expert Paul Zimmerman and Dr. David Byrne (Texas A&M), Dr. Kevin Ong (Texas A&M), and Dr. Mark Windham (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Report a case of RRD at

And, of course, here’s the link again to The Rose Geek’s YouTube channel

About the Author

Ahoy! I’m Katie Yen, and ever since discovering my middle name was ‘Rose,’ I’ve been obsessed with those elusive flowers and their intoxicating aroma. My earliest memory of roses is a gnarly rose plant which grew in the backyard of my childhood home, which my mother warned me “never to go near!” because “it has thorns!” As a child, I believed I’d end up like Sleeping Beauty if I went near the creature, but thinking back on it, that ‘dangerous’ rose was probably a Mr. Lincoln in bad need of a pruning. Today, I’m a writer with my own fledgling rose garden.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: