Rose Mosaic Virus

“Dear Edelweiss,

What is rose mosaic virus and how do I know if I have it?  What can I do to treat it?




Rose mosaic is found virtually everywhere roses are cultivated in the U.S., and unfortunately this virus disease is a fairly common problem in plantings across the United States. Like most virus diseases, rose mosaic reduces plant vigor and flower quality but rarely kills infected plants.

How can you tell if rose mosaic is present in your rose garden? While the symptoms are somewhat variable, suspect mosaic when yellowish or light green mottled areas appear in leaves. Additionally, “ring spots” and “wavy lines” are commonly part of the symptom complex.

Symptoms start showing up late spring and are present throughout the growing season. Although symptom expression may vary with the variety (some infected plants remain symptomless), there is no resistance to mosaic, and there is no treatment for infected plants .

Transmission of the virus is through vegetative propagation of infected plant material. Infected grafting material can include buds, scions, or root stocks. It is also suspected the causal virus can be spread through infected pollen, although this route of infection is not considered an important avenue of transmission. Plant-to-plant spread via aphids (or other insects) or other types of virus transmission is not thought to occur.

So, what are the recommendations for rose mosaic? First, if you feel you have plants which could be infected, it would be a good idea to contact your County Extension Office for information on how to obtain a definitive diagnosis. A specimen may need to be sent to the Extension Plant Pathology Laboratory for an examination.

If rose mosaic is confirmed, it’s best to “bite the bullet” and remove infected plants. An important point to remember about this disease is that once plants are infected, they remain infected for the life of the plant. While the virus doesn’t lead directly to plant death, infected plants tend to decline in vigor, and are more likely to die in the winter than healthy ones.



© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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