Frequently Asked Questions
Of Pests. And What's in a Name?
AbeDarbyTrim Phot

Off the Wall

Why do roses have thorns?

Roses, we learn from The Little Prince, believe that thorns will protect them. There is an element of truth to it. Deer stop short of eating whole rose plants thanks to thorns; for it usually at the first thorn that the nibbling stops.

A second reason is that thorns help roses clamber up nearby structures.

Finally, as the symbol of love, could the rose suffice without a thorn?

Besides Rose, what other names do people take from plants?

And there are some near misses like Dianne and dianthus, Artemis and artemesia. Woodruff is an herb and a last name. And I have the sense that Wisteria and Azalea are mellifuous names that might be nice if added to the list. I don't expect the same of peony or hoarhound.

While women are named for flora, men are named for fauna, inanimate objects, noises, and bits of real-estate.

Cactus and Basil however, are noticable exceptions to the rule for men. Bamboo and locust, jalepeno, and garlic seem promising to me. Broccoli, I think, is out of the question. But we've ventured far afield from the subject of the rose.

Perhaps the most famous Rose name has proven the most influential in the history of archeology:

How do I get rid of:

  • Thrips
  • Spider Mites
  • Aphids
  • Cabbage Worms
  • Japanese Beetles
  • Deer

Thrips are tiny flying insects that scrape the petals of a rose to get food. The action seriously mars the surface of the petals - especially the petal tips. It may prevent the rose from opening.

One technique is to plant a trap plant such as Lagerfeld. Thrips will go there first. If you are an organic rose-grower you can let spiders eat them. If not, you might dust the buds with rotenone or pyrethrum.

If you are trying to grow exhibition roses, keep your rose buds dusted with insecticide. I'd use rotenone or pyrethrum, but there might be more effective non-organic choices. Spraying the plant with chemical insecticide is probably not a great idea. It is a provable fact that preventative spraying can be an ideal way to increase the population of pests and to make chemical treatment methods grow useless.

Spider mites are tiny arachnids that live on the bottom of leaves. They thrive in dry weather, sapping the strength of a plant. The mites are hard to see, but the bottom side of a leaf infested with them will feel grainy.

Spray the plant off with water a few times a day for a few days, and the mites will be gone - at least until the next spate of very dry weather.

Aphids can be treated the same way. Recently I was alarmed to see six inches of new growth on one of my climbers covered with aphids. I did nothing. Two days later a ladybug was eating the aphids. Within a week they were all gone for the season. A jet of water will dislodge them, saving the plant from destruction. Every year I have an aphid outbreak, and every year I treat it in this manner with successful results.

Cabbage worms eat rose leaves. They especially like the tender new-growth. One technique is to use traditional insecticide. You can either use spray or you can use systemmic insecticide that gets absorbed by the roots of the plant.

The nice thing about systemic insecticide is that it only kills the insects actually eating the plant. This makes it quite a bit more earthwise than sprays.

Another possibility is to spray with Bt - bacterium thuringensis. This is a bacterium that kills only the insects that thrive on your plants. It has no negative effects on beneficial insects.

Japanese beetles love fragrant roses. Jens Munk, Double Delight, and New Dawn roses have all proven to be fine traps for them. When infestation is light, I pick them off and drown them in soapy water. Heavier infestations have caused me to bring out the traps. These are quite effective, especially if one uses enough of them. One can also use BT ( bacterium thurengensis ).

Deer love the taste of rose buds and will eat them every day if they can. The good news is that the thorns keep the deer from eating most rose plants.

Eight-foot tall fences will dissuade deer. And deer don't like the taste of soap, rotton eggs, hot peppers, or garlic. So regular anti-pest spraying programs can dissuade them. So will a good hunting dog or two. They seem to be less attracted to roses with less fragrance. But if you live in an area heavily infested with wildlife it is only reasonable to expect some loss to wildlife



Roses for Every Garden