Is There A Rosarian In The House?

My ‘Westerland’ rose is not well. This rose grows up one side of the arbor leading into our back garden. I’ve read you can train it as a climber, even though it is not normally considered one.

'Westerland' Rose
‘Westerland’ Rose
nepeta allium arbor back garden may 19 2013
Rose arbor on May 19th.

I ordered this rose from Heirloom Roses in Oregon because I loved the apricot color of the blooms.

However, many of the leaves are discolored  between the veins. Gradually the leaves curl and die from the edges inwards.

'Westerland' rose disease

Also, while some of the flowers and buds look healthy, others seem stunted.

stunted Westerland flower rose diseases

Even the stems seem abnormal in places, with narrow, elongated thorns.

westerland rose diseases

I tried using What’s Wrong With My Plant, by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth to make a diagnosis. I’ve found this book helpful in some other situations, but it didn’t really clarify things regarding ‘Westerland’.

I am particularly concerned because I have a healthy ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ growing on the other side of this arbor. I do not want ‘Westerland’s’ illness to infect DE.

Can any rose experts out there tell me if this ‘Westerland’ can be saved?  I would be very appreciative.

45 Comments on “Is There A Rosarian In The House?

  1. Have you looked into the possibility of it being rose rosette? This virus is going around, as I’m sure you probably know, and is deforming roses. I would take more detailed pictures to the rose forum on the garden web.. they have really knowledgeable rosarians there. Sorry about that. What a bummer!

  2. I’m not a rose expert but it looks like it might be spider mites. If so you should see small webs here and there. You have to look carefully though, because they can be hard to see.

  3. If “only” the foliage were affected it could be some sort of deficiency but the fact that it looks and grows abnormal would make me dig up the rose and burn it.

  4. The elongated thorns are a diagnostic of rose rosette disease. Also, the red growth in the photo looks very similar to what I’ve seen. I would remove the rose asap, as there is no treatment and the disease can spread to other roses via mites.

  5. I agree that it might be rose rosette disease, which got my one and only rose a few years ago (and it was a Knockout, to boot). The flowers are stunted, like yours. If you get an excess of thorns on the stems (along with the elongation), that’s another sign. And as Annette said, the recommended treatment is dig it up, burn it, and don’t plant another rose there for several years.

  6. Sadly, it looks like rose rosette to me, too. 😦 Look at Ann Peck’s ebook at for information regarding RRD. This is the worst disease a rose can get, as there is no treatment for it. You need to keep an eye out on any other roses in your garden, too. So sad to see this.

    • I would be extremely bummed if this took hold on any of my other roses. As I say, it’s growing right next to Darlow’s Enigma. Actually, I think this condition started last year, but I would just remove the affected leaves.

  7. I came back to say – if this is just one cane, cut it off completely. Then watch for new growth. Sometimes the new growth will be fine. However, if you have multiple canes like this or the new growth still shows signs, then the recommended step is to destroy the rose if it has symptoms of RRD. (You don’t want it to spread.)

    But you have such a large, beautiful rose, I would try cutting off the one cane first. And if you have sprayed any roundup near this rose, that is something to consider, too. Roundup does some very strange things to roses, which can mimic symptoms of RRD, and one reason I never use roundup around my roses.

  8. Jason, you have received some good advice. I agree with Holleygarden that you should cut off the offending cane and watch the rest of the plant very carefully. If any more strange growths occur, get rid of it immediately. And be sure to wash your pruning shears with hot soapy water, then clean them with alcohol. Cheers and good luck! Lynn

  9. Your readers are so knowledgeable, Jason! I know nothing about roses. Many people here in the desert do grow roses but I’m a little scared to try!

  10. This was a fantastic post! I do not even know what Rose rosette is but now I do. Thanks gardeners! Maybe we don’t get it in our area but at least I am aware of it. I just wanted to add briefly that the idea of cutting all the damaged areas off to a few inches below the damage or to the ground is a good one. Heirloom roses are root roses so it will come back as it should. I had to do this to ‘The Impressionist’ that I believe had bacterial cane blight and now it is fine.

  11. No expert Jason but I’m sure you have been given some good advice and you can deal with it successfully before it affects anything else.

  12. Jason,
    if it seems to me that the rose is sick (bacteria or fungi) I spray copper sulfate or iron sulfate

  13. Hi Jason, from reading other people’s comments there’s a consensus that this is Rose Rosette Disease. I’ve never heard of this before but after doing a search and comparing pictures, there’s not much else it could be. Take a look at the Westerland rose and if any cane has the symptoms, cut it off at the base. The disease is said to spread slowly so you might have some time if you’ve spotted this early enough. If most of the plant looks infected, then sadly, it will have to go (not on the compost heap!) and in the meantime, you should watch your other roses like a hawk.

  14. Hi Jason,

    My sympathies, Westerland looks like quite the beguiling rose before Rosette disease. I’m certainly no expert on roses, but long ago I abandoned all but for species and rugosa roses. Much less trouble, especially in the mold, mildew and fungus friendly Pacific Northwest. While rugosas may be a bit aggressive, my “Hansa” cultivar rivals any in scent and seems impervious to disease and pretty much is well behaved.

    Check out this article Gardening with Species Roses. Jonathan Shaw gardens in New England and mentions a few climbers in his article.

    • Thanks for the info and the condolences. I do grow a wild rose, R. setigera, I assume that is the same as a species rose. Before this I have really had no trouble with our roses.

  15. Wow, great post as it is helping so many other gardeners. I admit I haven’t seen this, but I don’t have prize Roses like you do. Boy, that Westerland Rose is gorgeous! Good luck!

  16. Westerland is a gorgeous, tough rose that has grown well for me for years. I’ve never heard of rose rosette disease before. Mine is struggling with black spot but I’m going to check its new growth tomorrow for this disease, too. Instead of saving the plant, it might be worth just tossing it and starting over with a healthier one. Chamblee’s Roses out of TX has excellent roses as does Brushwood Nursery.

    • I would consider getting another Westerland but would have to find another spot for it. I’ll check out Chamblee’s and Brushwood. I thought Brushwood sold mostly vines and shrubs.

  17. I was going to chime in about cleaning tools, hands etc. REALLY well. Disinfect and wash garden gloves and forego another rose in that spot for several years, but Lynn Hunt beat me to it.

    • I’ve been following advice given to me by one of the horticulturists at CBG and using sanitizing wipes on my tools when going from one plant to another.

  18. I hope that your othter roses will comfort you. A few years ago I planted 8 beds with 4 different Italian roses. (15 roses of a kind in one bed). The rose, ” Sance soucy” ( withouth worries 😉 ; began to mourn and died. Then I toke a sample of the ground. The result was that there was too much salt in these two beds. The ground was a former agriculture ground. After I gave lots of plaster, I seeded Tagetes becouse they clear the ground. Now, 3 years later, I planted 4 new roses. They are doing well!!!! Yes, next authum I can plant more roses again! So, hopefully, one day you can plant a new rose on the same spot!
    Sorry for my English!

  19. Just to clarify, Rose Rosette disease (RRD) is different from Rose Mosaic Virus (RMV).

    Rose rosette disease,is a virus or virus-like disease, such as a phytoplasm, that is spread by a very small, eriophyid mite. It is fatal to the infected rose and can quickly spread to other roses in the area.

    Rose Mosaic Virus is as its name states, also a virus, but is typically spread by grafting uninfected bud wood onto infected rootstock. The infection spreads from the rootstock to the bud wood. Some studies claim it can be spread via pruners to other roses, or via infected roots to uninfected roots, but the validity of these claims is not completely accepted. Heat treatment to specific temperatures can kill off the virus in bud wood, this method is called “Virus Indexing”. RMV can send a rose into serious decline, and make it more vulnerable to winter kill off, but it is rarely fatal.

    Sorry for your loss of a beautiful rose.

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