Mites……little microscopic critters which serve no purpose whatsoever, other than to cause landscapers, turf managers, and homeowners to despair. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a big increase in mite damage to bermudagrass lawns from the Bermudagrass Stunt Mite. This nasty little critter is over-populating lawns in Oklahoma and causing what looks like drought symptoms with thin, yellowing and browning turf areas. And the challenge is that there are really not any great ways to effectively control the mite.
Now Rose bushes in Oklahoma and other areas of the country are being attacked and even killed by the Rose Rosette Virus, which is spread by the tiny eriophyrid mites from plant to plant. “The disease alters the growth habits and form of the rose,” said Steve Huddleston, senior horticulturalist for the Dallas Arboretum, which has had no roses since 2015. “It results in a phenomenon called witch’s broom, where the ends of the branches get shortened and twisted close together like a broom.” The Tulsa Rose Garden has been devastated in recent years, with about two-thirds of the garden’s 3,000 roses killed by the virus so far, and gardeners expect to lose more this summer. Even if plants can survive, they are weakened and more susceptible to other problems which could kill the Roses. In my case, two large plants were affected last year, and after some pruning, not much is left.
There is not much one can do to prevent Rose Rosette Virus, other than removing and destroying infected plants. Applying a dormant oil monthly may help somewhat with controlling mites. Planting Roses with other shrubs spaced in between them may help cut back on infection by separating the plants.
For more complete information on Rose Rossete Disease, CLICK HERE for a good fact sheet.from Oklahoma State University.