What cuts through buds and makes a black mess?

westy1941(Boulder County, CO)June 21, 2009

I have only ONE rose left and that's a climbing David Austin - I think it's 'Eden' - pale peach edges and even paler inside. I've never had a problem until this week - something cut a blackish colored swath through the buds and it almost opened completely up - like I could take a 'lid' off the bud. There's nothing inside and I see no bugs or worms. Any ideas? I love this rose and need to know what I can use on it that isn't poison.


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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Hey, Westy, I'm sorry that no one yet has answered your post... I'm a rose newbie and was hoping the organic experts would respond. But it's been almost a month, so I thought I'd try my 1/2 a penny's worth of guessing... I first learned of the term bullheading on the other rose forum...

here is the link:

bullhead on roses

Does this look similar to the condition you have?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2009 at 9:18AM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

Thanks for keeping track of the post progress, serenasyh! And thank you for the link. I read it in awe! I don't, however, think it's bullhead. I think it's either the rainy weather or thrips, although I couldn't see the critters. I gave up and sprayed with an inorganic product and it KILLED me - but I put barriers up all around it and it was a still day. It's a Bayer pest product. I used to have 50 roses - now I have one. Chicago is not rose land.


    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 3:46AM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Westy, I am so sorry! I didn't know you had lost other roses to this condition besides that one rose (aaargh, missed a few very! important words in your post). This sounds like rose midge, the larvae bury themselves deep into the bud, so that you can't see it... Rose midge is very, very destructive and very difficult to control... I am soooooo sorry you lost 49 roses! Oh my goodness, that is complete! devastation!

Here at organics we won't judge, because there are times when you have to resort to desperate measures but once things even out, organics can always be re-applied...

The only organic way available for rose midge is in this link...

organic options for rose midge

But again, like all organics you have to start wayyy early, even as early as February/March to get everything implemented with the plastic groundcover and the subsequent organic sprays that sadly you will have to watch to make sure bees aren't getting into your garden maybe tulle around your last remaining Austin... and it involves tireless upkeep... I am keeping my fingers triple-crossed for you! Many hugs...

Here are some online images of rose midge destruction...

Does this look like any of the problems you've been having?

But for rose midge to wipe out 49 roses???? It can decimate but surely not to this degree!

Sigh...help organics experts, where is everyone????!!!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 4:17PM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

Thanks for the info Serenasyh! Most of the roses I lost over the years were all the old-fashioned ones from hundreds of years ago that had no modern improvements and I got sick of dealing with blackspot, powdery mildew, and every pest imaginable. Eden is so tough. But I also had other David Austins and this happened to them so I just gave up but refuse to lose this one - it's a climber and so gorgeous. The link you sent is SO helpful! I'm going to try Bio-Neem or one of the others mentioned. THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring!


    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 12:04AM
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serenasyh(was 5/now Z 8-Kans)

Hugs Westy! I am thinking about trying to email MichaelG, send him to you as well because you really need someone here with a lot! of experience to help get your rose to a stable condition... I forgot to say that be careful when you spray insecticides, even the organics! that you allow enough time in between so that you don't burn out your foliage...Ailing roses are very "fragile" and will be burned by too much chemicals.... I would like to recommend for your rose a super diluted sea tea or fish emulsion solution to help your rose get back on track (alfalfa tea or pellets, Gardenville Sea-Tea, Alaskan Fish emulsion, rose tone) But again fertilizers have to be super diluted, watered to 1/10 the normal concentration because your rose may be too weak to endure an overload of nutrients, and there is a risk that you may accidentally overdose. Definitely stay away from the synthetic fertilizers because they are way! too strong. When leaves and foliage start falling out, you need to help nourish the roots so that it can send out new healthier branches and stems...The trickiest part is trying to get healthy soil back into your ground as Kimmsr would say...If you have healthy soil your roses will be able to have the strength to grow and flourish in spite of the pests...Kimmsr always stresses the importance of soil analysis. If you have bad soil or poor sunlight conditions, you will have a weak rose that will succumb to the diseases and pests...Losing 49 roses is a very sad time, and I want you to be able to Gain! 60 roses instead...

I will email MichaelG...

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 2:44PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Hi. If the top or side of the bud looks like it has been sliced off, and it's not bullheading as Serena suggested, it could be feeding damage by katydids or something similar. The black mess would be feces of whatever is eating them. Katydids do that in my garden. The adults are large critters (up to 2") that look like green leaves. The immature stages are wingless and look like grasshoppers or crickets. They are hard to spot and catch.

If there is a lot of this damage and you see no large insects feeding, check at night with a flashlight. It could also be some kind of worm or beetle.

If you use an insecticide, it needs to be of the stomach-acting rather than the contact type. Organic stomach poisons are rotenone (too hazardous IMO), ryania, and sabadilla. You would just apply these to the buds and top growth, not the open flowers where they could harm pollinators.

Rose midge would not slice off buds. These are very tiny larvae that kill the growth tips and deform immature buds. If you have rose midge, you basically see no healthy new growth-- it is all aborted.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 4:59PM
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westy1941(Boulder County, CO)

Okay I no longer think it's Rose midge! I guess I traepse out there at night with a flashlight because I see nothing. But...it has stopped and I have ONE healthy new rose! ONE! Last year it had hundreds. I've never heard of ryania or sabadilla - great help - I'll be asking about those at the garden center.

THANK YOU AGAIN (and also to Serena!)


    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 1:02PM
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Could it be rose slugs? I've seen them chew into buds. The larger they grow, the more they seem to eat.

They are camouflaged well, not always easy to see.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:17PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was asked "Could it be rose slugs?"

No. They eat small portions of leaves.

OP's problem sounds like it was due to a caterpillar of some kind. It happens!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 1:30AM
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