Discovering Rose Rosette Virus in the Landscape
As we were trimming shrubs a few weeks ago, we noticed that several roses on one of our commercial properties were growing oddly. A careful examination of several of the shrubs revealed no damage from people or animals, there were no apparent stressors in the environment – no visible cause! So we considered the invisible, and sent samples off to be tested for pathogens. Turns out, they were infected with Rose Rosette Virus (RRV).
Pathogen – a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that causes disease
Why do we care about Rose Rosette Virus?
As a landscape maintenance company, our first interest is in promoting and preserving plant health. Diseases often obstruct the health, balance, and beauty of outdoor spaces, negatively impacting aesthetic (and in some cases property) values.
In the case of our commercial client, the infected roses prominently occupied a courtyard garden that is a main feature of the facility – the beauty of the garden helps to create a restful and caring environment that is important to the overall customer experience. The extreme distortions and plant dieback caused by Rose Rosette Virus detracted from this garden significantly. As a result, it became a priority to identify the problem and create a plan of action to deal with the pathogen quickly and effectively.
What is RRV?
University Extension offices from all over the country report that Rose Rosette Virus (also referred to as Rose Rosette Disease) is a plant virus that attacks a wide range of wild and cultivated rose species throughout the Midwestern, Southern, and Eastern regions of the United States. RRV is spread from rose to rose by the eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, as they feed. Once infected, roses begin to display abnormal growth such as witches brooms and excessive production of thorns (see below resources below for more symptoms and photographs).
Rose Rosette Virus is becoming more common in our area, with infected roses acting as a host to both the vector mites and the virus. In essence, infected plants in the landscape act as a disease reservoir, increasing the odds of spreading the virus to other roses in the area. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease and roses that are infected typically die within 2 years.
Should I be worried about Rose Rosette Virus?
Landscape plants are typically susceptible to a wide range of diseases, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll become infected. Rather than worrying about a specific diseases roses (or other plants) may become infected with, we recommend that our clients focus their time and energy on promoting the general health of their landscape with well-timed maintenance, as healthy plants are less susceptible to pathogens.
To learn more about Rose Rosette Virus, take a moment to check out these great resources:
University of Florida EDIS publication (best symptom pictures)
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