Guess what the wind blew in ...
The roses had a beautiful spring flush. Than we got those winds for days on end and apparently it brought in thrips -- those almost microscopic insects that get into the flower buds and mess up the blooms.
I was surprised to find the roses here to be pretty much been thrips free since I stopped using insecticides a few years ago because I wasn't killing the thrips predators that eat them, but this year the number of thrips that blew in are overwhelming.
What can you do? When I belonged to the San Antonio Rose Society they said misting the buds with water everyday was about the best thing you could do. Individual roses they intended to enter in competition at rose shows were covered with fine netting. Insecticides don't work well because they don't reach inside closely packed petals where the thrips are. Not even systemic insecticides work. They said if insecticides seemed to help it was as much the water as the insecticide it contained. Plus of course using insecticides kills the predatory insects and that's not good.
Another thing you can do during a bad infestation is cut off all the blooms and buds, drop them in a bag and put them in the trash can. This kills a lot of adults so they don't drop down and breed in the soil. Applying beneficial nematodes to the soil to kill the immature thrips is very helpful also.
Dr. Manners, a Florida rose specialists, says to just wait for the predators to show up in early summer.
Recently I was squirting water on the roses every morning; this timing gives them a chance to dry quickly not promoting black spot, and was getting some decent blooms again. Oh joy! But then I let up and am seeing thrips damage. So again I'm watering the whole bush. Giving the foliage a blast of water will help in keeping spider mites at bay also since they like it hot and dry.
Sometimes I use a Gilmour nozel which has a great fine mist setting and just apply the mist over the tops of the roses. This is not the hose end sprayer we talk about, but a nozel. And I'm removing buds and blooms again. Ouch! This hurts me more than it hurts the roses ... LOL.
I called ARE and they are also having thrips problems after the wind. They said clouds of them could be seen in the air. They are just waiting it out and expect nice thrips free blooms this summer. They have a system that waters overhead so that probably helps a lot.
If anyone has any other ideas on thrips control we'd like to hear them.
It seems like 'it's always something', but let's be happy rose gardening anyway :-)