Rose Rosette

Image of rose rosette
Rose rosette

Overview of rose rosette

Rose rosette is a fairly common disease of roses that can cause significant damage. Although more commonly known on weedy multiflora roses, we have received several samples of cultivated roses showing symptoms typical of this disease.  The cause of rose rosette disease has not been determined. It is suspected to be caused by a virus, and is transmitted from plant to plant by tiny eriophyid mites. We do not know if other insects, such as aphids, may also be able to transmit the disease. Because we do not know the exact cause of rose rosette, it is impossible to confirm a diagnosis of this disease, and diagnoses are based solely on visual symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of rose rosette  

Symptoms of rose rosette can vary greatly but typically include rapid growth of shoots, "witches' brooms" (tufts of branches growing close together), development of tufts of small, deformed, reddish leaves, and excessive thorniness. Affected plants typically decline over time and eventually die within one or two years. The deformation of leaves caused by rose rosette can be similar to the results of herbicide injury.

Type of Sample Needed for Diagnosis and Confirmation

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic can help you to investigate rose diseases. Curently in the clinic, we do not test for Rose rosette, but we can redirect you to a clinic that does perform the test. Contact us, Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic at our contact page.

Rose rosette
Rose cane showing symptoms of rose rosette, including deformed, red leaves and excessive thorniness.

Management of rose rosette

Unfortunately, a rose plant with rose rosette cannot be cured. Infected plants should be removed to prevent a spread of the disease in the landscape.

For more information visit Rose Rosette Disease fact sheet

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Yard and Garden, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on September 1, 2016. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.