I am confused!!!

barb_roselover_inJune 17, 2009

I absolutely do not like spraying my roses at all because I believe there is some bad in everything suggested. After reading some of the posts about spinosad (which I did use because the little green worms were skeletonizing my roses), I'm beginning to wonder just what I should use. I wonder what is the absolute safest insecticide AND

fungicide that I can use to protect them from losing their leaves because I know with the blackspot and worms, it is nearly impossible not to have them naked by the time Fall comes when they need their leaves to go into winter. Sometimes I get so discouraged trying to grow this lovely flower. I am using some of my container roses simply as annuals--not even trying to winter them over. Would appreciate any comments. - Barb

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Far too many people want to start a pest or disease control program with the most toxic stuff there is and that leaves you with no alternative if that does not work, and many of the insect pests we have are developing immunities to these products due to overuse. There have been alternatives to many problems people have such as a sharp water spray, Insecticidal Soaps (which for a very short time can be very broad spectrum poisons), and if those do not work judicious applications of Neem Oil products and then pyrethrins. For plant diseases a mixture of baking soda and water or fat free milk and water.
However, the single best means of insect pest or plant disease control is to work on the soil your plants grow in so it is good, and healthy and the plants grow up strong and healthy and better able to ward off these problems. Many times people will state they have good, healthy soil but they cannot tell you what their soils pH is or what the nutrient levels are. They do not know how much organic matter is in there soil, how well that soil drains, or how well that soil retains moisture.
Just as with us disease or insect pests are not normal for plants, unless they are growing in conditions that prevent good health.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 6:45AM
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Try not to get too discouraged! Gardening, while it can be a source of great joy, can also be very frustrating since there are so many variables out of our control, such as weather or a sudden onslaught of bugs or disease, which we then try to control to the best of our ability. A lot of the time it can seem that we are always a step (or several!) behind trying to do damage control. Each season is different and the problem you had last year may not be the one you had this year.

A lot of us get discouraged at times! Pretty much everyone has some issue or other in their yard (although the bug and fungus battle is always a threat since they like our roses as much as we do).

Sorry, I know this doesn't really help you as far as what products to use.....I just hate to see somebody getting discouraged.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:24AM
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Barb, Boy..I understand how you feel. I have been working on going organic myself. It seems it's a process to me. I was spraying a product with Neem oil in it..then I found out that Neem will kill my bees. There is so much misinformation out there. I will say this..I have not sprayed my roses for anything for about 2 months now. I picked the rose slugs off and I think they are gone. I use a strong blast of the hose if I get sick of the aphids. I will say this..This is my second year at this house and my first roses in the garden. I do have about 10 roses in pots that I planted last year. They look great!

Kim who responded has been a great help to me. I would try to not spray, or use what has been recommended to you in here..with the milk mixture. Make sure you have healthy soil..I took some extra time with my new garden soil and the roses have done well. The bugs and life I see in my garden is so worth it. It is a journey in life to really embrace what nature or God intended with insects..if patient the bad insects get ate by bigger insects and so it goes. Enjoy yourself..take a deep healthy breath. Work the soil..add compost and nutrients.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 10:28AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Barb, you may have to make the hard choice and give up on the varieties that are disease prone and move to those that are disease resistant in your area. Hybrid teas probably are not on that list. Also learn to live with bug damage and some disease (not a lot, but some). It does take time and tolerance. Take a look at the link below for info, but you also have to be aware of hardiness issues.

Here is a link that might be useful: Olga and LoriElf: questions about disease resistance

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 3:57PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

I'm lucky here that rose slugs (the "little green worms") are easily controlled with a little hand-picking by me and a lot by the paper wasp colonies that I allow to flourish under the eaves. If you need to spray, have you tried Safer's Insecticidal Soap? The concentrate, not the RTU. I don't need to use spinosad, but, if soap doesn't work for you, I don't think you need to feel bad about using spinosad. According to the critical review by the Organic Materials Review Institute that kimmsr posted elsewhere, the reservations are quite mild-- (1) Don't apply to flowers that could be visited by bees before the spray dries (2) Don't pollute the oyster beds (3) Don't apply over sterilized soils that are devoid of microbial life. Shouldn't be too hard to follow those guidelines.

The Mid-Atlantic growers in the thread linked by Diane face higher disease pressure than any zone 5a climate, so put those roses on your want list-- except you can't grow Barbier ramblers there, and Hybrid Musks would be killed to the ground each winter. The lists are heavy on once-bloomers, but Gallicas and Albas can be wonderful. If you decide to keep some susceptible varieties, you can spray micronized sulfur, Cornell mixture, or Wilt Pruf regularly through the season. (See the FAQ.) Although copper products are considered "organic," I'd recommend against them as perhaps being more of a health hazard than some synthetic chemicals.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:20PM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Hi, Barbara, I use Greencure for my fungicide (my roses are pristine-but I started very early with mine) and hot pepper spray to cut down my insect attacks (reduces them about 70%)...But I hear that homemade onion/garlic/hot pepper is even better...I just can't use onions/can't even cook with them, because I have dry eyes and it causes my eyes a lot! of pain.

However! I hear that the best and safest all-in-one is Serenade? And it's supposed to be very safe for bees. Have heard lots of people gush over it...they seem to love Serenade the way I love my Garden-ville Sea Tea... I wish I had Serenade at my local Garden Centers. I may order online in July or August...I have no idea what the ingredients are but it is certified Organics...

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 3:07PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Serena, it is a bacterium.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:29PM
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How safe is Safer's Insecticidal soap? Anyone? The label says it can harm earthworms, which I'd like to avoid. Would it be helpful if you cover the soil with plastic before you spray? (rain will wash it off leaves into the soil eventually, but it might reduce the am't that gets in soil.) What is it most effective on? What exactly is it, is it a strong alkaline soap like lye? I've used it on a couple potted plants for whiteflies - it works but you have to keep spraying like every week.

I'm taking note of some of these products mentioned here to look up online. (thanks michaelg) Maybe I could get more interested in growing another rose or two! I didn't spray my roses and got sick of the maintenance after 12 yrs, finally planted herbs in their place. But I miss them!

I do believe Kim's idea in keeping soil as healthy as possible, but I deeply believe that even a plant in the epitome of health, in the most optimal soil, in the most optimal conditions,can still succumb to disease, especially roses. They are susceptible to everything, maybe because they are weakened due to hybidization, I don't know.
I hate the thought of feeling blamed for any plant probs that arise for not keeping my soil in a perfect state of health, or failing to do lab tests!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:29PM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

huh???? what?!! that is a huge surprise Michael! how can a bacterium repel both insects and be a fungicide....now I too am very confused! do you have Serenade on you; can you list out the ingredients so I can do some research? Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 4:56PM
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roseberri, z6(6)

Hi serenasyh it's roseberri again, I have Serenade, here are the ingredients:
Active ingredient: Bacillus subtilis 0.074%
Inert ingredients:(They don't say what this is) 99.926%

Its warnings are actually a little scary, if you accidently inhale it they say to call 911,you must not allow it to contaminate water or get on your clothing or skin. And yet it says you may use it up to the day of harvest on vegetables. If you dispose of it before it is all gone you may not pour it down a drain, or throw it in the trash, you must call for instructions on disposal! I may not get any more when it is gone. By the way;my bottle does not say it controls insects, just a battery of bacterial and fungal diseases.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 10:46PM
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Thanks everybody for answering. By the way, for two days, wanting to print the answers, I have met with nothing. I highlight the things that I want to print and after seeing the printing notice, it automatically erases the highlighting and prints everything out. I have done this numerous times. Anybody had this happen before? I would call HP, but I keep getting somebody in the Philipines (? sp don't have time to check ) and can't understand what they say. HELP! Barb

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 11:37PM
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The simplest solution to that printing is to copy what you want and paste it to your word processor and then print it out.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 6:27AM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Hi, everyone, I did some research and here are some factors to consider...



They do say to keep away from the skin because the bacteria is used for a lot of detergents and some people have dermatitis and skin allergies...There are also some precautionary elements about concerns of food poisoning because it is a bacterium but that it is very low level-risk in general... In other words, wash!!! before you eat and after you garden...My main concern is that the bacterium is super long-lasting, really stays like "glue" in the soil... so I am still debating this issue and am thinking well, at least pepper spray does wash out, etc.

Greencure also has similar precautions about not dumping into a primary water source and poison control warnings and likewise has unlisted ingredients (15%) and 85% potassium bicarbonate .. likely because one can overdose on potassium carbonate...? but then there could be other reasons as well.

Again, I have called up companies before to get the rest of the ingredients listing... if everyone is interested I can do this....

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 10:26AM
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Anything you use that is meant to kill something can be hazardous. Insecticidal Soaps will kill earthworms, if you spray them with it. Simply because something is derived from "natural" sources does not make it "safe" to use, after all Arsenic is found as a natural product, and can be very toxic to you.
Your objective as an Organic Gardener should be to reduce your reliance on "chemicals" to control inesct pests or plant diseases by working on your soil and making that into that good, healthy soil that will grow a strong and healthy plant that can better withstand insect pests and diseases without the use of those "chemicals", and make no mistake Insecticidal Soap and Neem, and all the others are "chemicals".
Those that maintain that a good, healthy soil will not do the job simply have not spent enough time studying the Organic method yet and do not know the history of organic gardening/farming.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:54AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

"How safe is Safer's Insecticidal Soap? Anyone?"

Jeannie-- as safe as, well, soap. It is just soap, old-fashioned soap like Dr. Bronner's Castile soap.

My goodness. If table salt or baking soda were packaged as pest controls, they would have terrifying
warnings: "Harmful or fatal if swallowed. Harmful to fish and aquatic invertebrates." All true, in sufficient quantity.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 5:12PM
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Mich..LOL. I know what you mean. But I do appreciate Kim's knowledge.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 8:00PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

^ I didn't intend to be pooh-poohing Kim, whom I respect.

A fuller answer to the soap question. It will kill any soft-bodied insect it is sprayed directly on. This includes good insects like ladybug larvae and syrphid larvae. For that reason we should be cautious about spraying soap on aphids. The residue should have no effect on insects that visit later. Any soap that washes into the soil would have its protein component slowly broken down by soil bacteria, releasing beneficial potassium.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 2:35PM
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Michaelg - are Japanese beetles considered soft-bodied? I would assume not, but maybe it penetrates? Thanks - Barb

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 2:37PM
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