Roses Have Holes In Leaves: Why Do My Roses Have Holes In The Leaves

Roses Have Holes In Leaves: Why Do My Roses Have Holes In The Leaves

By: Stan V. Griep, American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian, Rocky Mountain District

Do your rose leaves have holes in them? This happens more often than you might think. While finding roses with holes can be frustrating, there are a number of reasons this can occur and most quite fixable. Read on to learn more about what to do when leaves on rosebushes have holes.

Why Do My Roses Have Holes in the Leaves?

Holes, rips or tears in rosebush leaves can be caused in different ways. In some cases, the wind whips the foliage so hard that the leaves will get puncture wounds in them from their own thorns. Small pea-sized hail will also cause holes, rips or tears in the foliage. Larger hail stones can totally defoliate a rosebush and break off canes as well.

Most often, when leaves on rosebushes have holes, insect pests are to blame. Here are the most common culprits:

Cutter bees will make half-moon shaped notches in the leaves of some rosebushes. With cutter bee damage, I just leave them alone and treat it like a badge of honor. Cutter bees do a lot of good and having them choose some of my roses to make their nesting materials with is a small price to pay. While they can do considerable damage to many leaves, the rose will grow back, just keep it well watered and put some Super Thrive in the water to help them deal with the stress and shock.

Some beetles like to punch holes in the foliage of rosebushes to suck out the juices as a means of nourishment. The same is true of some rose slugs (sawfly larvae), but they usually will not stop at a few holes. Instead, these pests end up devouring or skeletonizing the entire plant. Spraying the rosebushes with a good insecticide that has the culprit listed will help to gain control of the situation. The rose leaves with damage to them may be removed if desired, but again, affected rosebushes will usually bring forth new foliage that will perform better.

Rose chafers can also cause this type of damage but will usually attack the blooms as well. Caterpillars are another common pest of roses. Their damage usually presents as numerous irregular areas near the center of the leaves, or entire leaves eaten. Most of these can be hand picked off and dropped into a bucket of water. Likewise, the use of Bacillus thuringiensis is another nontoxic approach for them.

Remember to take the time to truly inspect your rosebushes on a regular basis, as catching any problem early goes a very long way to a timely cure!

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Maryland Grows

Rose slug sawfly damage on rose. Photo: UME/Ask an Expert

Q: My rose leaves have white spots and holes in them. What causes this and how do I treat it? Is there a natural remedy that does not involve powerful chemicals?

Answer: It looks like your rose has symptoms of sawfly damage. Check the undersides of the leaves and look for tiny green larvae that look like caterpillars. These are the juvenile stage of an insect called rose slug sawfly.

Rose slug sawflies are neither slugs nor flies. They belong to the same order of insects as wasps, bees, and ants (Hymenoptera). Adult female sawflies use their unique ovipositor (egg-laying part) to saw a small slit in a leaf or stem where they lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the leaf surfaces and cause an etched appearance. Some rose slug larvae chew through leaves entirely. Damaged foliage turns brown and curls up as the season progresses.

Bristly rose slug (Cladius difformis). Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

Bristly rose slug (Cladius difformis), adult stage. Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

In Maryland, there are three species of rose slug sawflies that cause damage to roses: the bristly rose slug sawfly, the rose slug sawfly, and the curled rose sawfly. Most of the feeding activity on roses in Maryland is seen in May and June, but sawfly larvae can continue to be active until fall. Other insects, such as Japanese beetles, also cause chewing damage on rose foliage (typically in June-July).

Browning and leaf curling from rose slug sawfly damage. Photo: UME/ Ask an Expert

The best way to manage rose slug sawflies without chemicals is to monitor your plant(s) for damage symptoms and manually remove any larvae (squish them or toss them). Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and spinosad work well against these sawflies. These products are environmentally friendly insecticides listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). As with any pesticide, read and follow the label instructions carefully. Avoid sprays when your roses are in bloom, to protect pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Predatory insects and parasitoids help regulate sawfly populations naturally. Adding more flowering plant diversity to your landscape will provide food and habitat for beneficial insects that in turn will help reduce pest problems.

Rose Slugs on Shrubs | UME Home & Garden Information Center

Rosie Defoliators | Bug of the Week, University of Maryland, Department of Entomology

Sawflies | University of Wisconsin-Madison

By Christa K. Carignan, Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist, Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension Home & Garden Information Center

Have a plant or insect question? University of Maryland Extension’s experts have answers! Send your questions and photos to Ask an Expert.

So, how to get rid of white spots on rose leaves?

Generally, if white spots are results of fungal disease or insect infestations, use Neem Oil Fungicide and Insecticide and spray plant leaves once early in the morning every 7 to 10 days. Also, you can spray Rose leaves with a solution of baking soda, neem or horticultural oil and dish soap.

#1 – Spray Leaves With Neem Oil Fungicide

Cause: Fungus Podosphaera pannosa affects all aerial parts of the plant and produces spores that spread the disease. The disease is called Powdery Mildew and results in white spots on leaves or white coating on leaves, stems, flower stalks and petals.

Solution: Spray Neem Oil Ready-To-Use Fungicide on the top and undersides of the affected leaves. Make sure that leaves are completely covered with the solution. You can also spray it on unaffected leaves for prevention.

What time of the day do you need to spray Roses? Spray Roses with Fungicide to get rid of powdery mildew early in the morning. That way you will make sure that the rest of wildlife like bees, butterflies and bird are not active, hence you won’t cause them damage.

How often should you spray solution on roses once you notice mildew? Spray fungicide solution on Rose leaves that are both affected and not affected by powdery mildew early in the morning as soon as you noticed the problem. Then spray again on the 7th or 10th day. Although, you need to reapply the spray if it rains.

Spray on a dry, calm day. Don’t spray in the middle of the day especially in summer months. In summer spray very early in the morning or in the evening. You can spray on a cloudy day in summer . Always check the label for application instructions.

However, if only a few leaves are affected on one or two plants, cut them off and dispose in the trash and not a compost pile. Also, remove the fallen leaves from the ground. Make sure to sterilize pruners with rubbing alcohol before and after pruning.

#2 – Wash Bugs Off Rose Leaves

Cause: Sometimes insects look like white spots on Rose leaves. For example, some species of aphids are white in color. Moreover, scale insects can deposit their eggs on the underside of leaves that are covered with waxy fibers. Finally, leafhoppers feed on the underside of Rose leaves resulting in white spots.

Scale insects on Rose plant

Solution: If you identified bugs early, you can wash them off leaves. Use a hose end water sprayer and spray leaves and blooms well. The spray should be powerful enough but not too strong to avoid damaging the blooms or defoliating the plant.

In the early stages you can pick off bugs by hand and feed them to chickens, for example. Alternatively, you can leaves them on the ground and other insects will prey on them. A light tapping of the bloom or leaves is enough to knock bugs on the ground. Do it a few times a day.

Also, roses are able to withstand attacks of leafhoppers. They have natural enemies too, so most of the time natural process will prevent any damage. If your Roses are affected by scale insects, prune and dispose affected branches.

Pick them off of leaves and blooms by hand. Alternatively, if number of scale insects is low, dab on them with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or neem oil leaf polish. Aslo, Neem oil fungicide and insecticide will control aphids and scale insects. Although it may not kill leafhoppers, it will discourage feeding.

#3 – Spray Leaves with Baking Soda, Neem Oil And Dish Soap Solution

Rather than using fungicides and insecticides you can make a solution from natural products. It is as effective and is safer for the environment. Remember, that we don’t want to cause harm to beneficial insects and pollinators.

Take 3 tablespoons of baking soda and add mix it in a gallon of water. Then, add 1 tablespoon of neem oil or horticultural oil. Finally, mix in 2 drop of dish soap. Baking soda will kill fungi because it creates alkaline environment on the leaf. Fungal spores need a pH of 7.0 to around 8.0 to survive and spread.

Adding neem or horticultural oil will help spray to stick to the surface of the leaf. Moreover, oil coats and smothers the fungi. Oil will also prevent insects from feeding, larvae from maturing and can also kill insects. It coats the breathing holes on insects body, so they die from suffocation.

Adding a few drop of dish washing soap will help to mix all the ingredients together. Also, applying dish soap helps mix to spread and stick to the leaf or stem surface. Make sure to spray the solution to the top and to the lower leaf surfaces.

When plants are changing color they try to signal that you are doing something wrong. For example, if plant leaves are turning white, apart from fungal diseases they can get low light or have ozone damage. If plant leaves are turning yellow, you might be overwatering. That is one of the main reasons why greenhouse plants are dying.


So, to get rid of white spots on Rose leaves you need to determine what is the cause of the problem. If that’s powdery mildew and it affects a few plants, cut off and dispose infected leaves. Spray the leaves early in the morning with Neem Oil Funcigide every 7 to 10 days during growing season.

If white spots are aphids or scale insects, try picking them off by hand or wash them off leaves. You can also use Neem Oil Insecticide to get rid of bugs. It will not kill leafhoppers but will discourage them from feeding. Finally, you can make a baking soda solution and spray your Roses.

What are you using to get rid of white spots on Rose leaves? Let me know in the comments section below!

How To Revive Roses: 8 Vital Tips To Save Dying Bushes

  • Clean and rid your roses of pests and weeds
  • Pruning roses
  • Fertilizing roses
  • Checking soil’s ph level
  • Wherever planted, roses add an elegance and sophistication few other flowering plants can muster. They’re undoubtedly a royalty among flora, hence they come with all the trappings and maintenance that human royalty may require – that is, much time, attention, cost, care, and nurturing.
  • Both literally and figuratively, all roses have thorns. There is, however, beauty in its fragility. That beauty is, surely, worth all the thorns.

  • What can you do, then, if you notice that your roses are not as lively as they once were? They’re drooping, browning, displaying excessive growth, loss of color intensity or maybe even showing signs of death? Is it possible to save them?

As long as there is still life in the rosebush, you can rejuvenate them, but you must act quickly!

Like a doctor saving a patient on the brink, you need the right tools and know-how to bring life back into your roses! Below are the tools that you will need. Notice that there are basic items and advanced items.

Since we need to act with haste, the basic items are the most important ones - you may already have them and should be used first before you purchase the advance items. The advanced items will be vital, though, if the condition of your roses have become very poor. If, after the basic treatment, your roses show signs of life, then the advanced items will be optional.

Why do my roses have holes in their leaves?

Use Rose Care granules, they also feed the plant as well as taking care of the insects eating your foliage, however it wont change the leaves that already have holes in them,hope this helps

There is something eating them,you need to check with the garden centre,the soapy stuff you mention is only for aphids green or black things that attack the buds.Snails put holes in leaves but they cannot get up to roses,sorry cannot help with the holes in your leaves.

It could be grasshoppers. Ask your garden center what to use for them.

Plant marigolds around them. bugs hate them. I have tried this and it works!

I have that problem. It's a shiny black bug that looks kind of like a beetle.

Do you see bugs? It is about the time of year that Japanese Beetles make their appearance. They're the beetle that develops from the grubs in your lawn. They aren't tiny, so they're hard to miss. I would go to a garden supply store and find something to sprinkle on your roses. The good news is, if Japanese Beetles are the problem, that they're only around for a couple of weeks.

Sometimes it's leaf cutter/mason bees. They cut out roundish sections of leaves for their nests. An excellent pollinator. Is not eating the leaves or harming plant. Damage is cosmetic only.

Watch the video: What Causes Holes in the Leaves of Rose Bushes?