QUESTION: What could be stripping the leaves off the branches of my roses? I spray with a product that is supposed to protect roses from insects and diseases, but it hasn’t helped.
This time of year, with this kind of weather, suspect spider mites, which thrive when the weather is hot and dry, say rosarians at the Nashville Rose Society. The tiny creatures get on the undersides of leaves and feed on the plant’s juices. The damaged leaves look speckled, turn yellow and fall off.
Spider mites are not insects; they are more closely related to spiders, so insecticides won’t have any effect. You can use a miticide, but it can be expensive. The best and cheapest way to control them is with a blast of water directed at the undersides of the leaves, rosarians say. If you do this every three days for a week or so, you break the mites’ gestation cycle.
Here’s a little more information about the tiny arachnids: Adult mites are less than 1/50 inch long. They use their mouthparts to pierce individual plant cells and remove the liquid. They produce webs that can coat the foliage with a fine silk that collects dust, making the leaves look dirty.
You can’t see them, but you can certainly see the damage. Heavily infested plants will be discolored, and if they are not controlled, the rose can be stunted, or even killed.
Record heat is trouble for trees
Meteorologist Bobby Boyd sends me email from time to time about extreme weather conditions. The latest concerns the large dome of high pressure building eastward out of the plains and across the Tennessee Valley that has put Middle Tennessee, as he says, “in the pressure cooker.” We’re breaking records this weekend. No rain in sight, and gardens are suffering.
Young trees and shrubs are especially vulnerable. The Nashville Tree Foundation has sent an alert with watering guidelines and new tips that you can read here to help trees survive.
Keep these tips handy. It’s still only June, and we’ve got a long way to go.