Roses Have Holes In Leaves: Why Do My Roses Have Holes In The Leaves

By Stan V. (Stan the Rose Man) Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Do your rose leaves have holes in them? This happens more often than you might think. While finding roses with holes can be frustrating, there are a number of reasons this can occur and most quite fixable. Read on to learn more about what to do when leaves on rosebushes have holes.

Why Do My Roses Have Holes in the Leaves?

Holes, rips or tears in rosebush leaves can be caused in different ways. In some cases, the wind whips the foliage so hard that the leaves will get puncture wounds in them from their own thorns. Small pea-sized hail will also cause holes, rips or tears in the foliage. Larger hail stones can totally defoliate a rosebush and break off canes as well.

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Most often, when leaves on rosebushes have holes, insect pests are to blame. Here are the most common culprits:

Cutter bees will make half-moon shaped notches in the leaves of some rosebushes. With cutter bee damage, I just leave them alone and treat it like a badge of honor. Cutter bees do a lot of good and having them choose some of my roses to make their nesting materials with is a small price to pay. While they can do considerable damage to many leaves, the rose will grow back, just keep it well watered and put some Super Thrive in the water to help them deal with the stress and shock.

Some beetles like to punch holes in the foliage of rosebushes to suck out the juices as a means of nourishment. The same is true of some rose slugs (sawfly larvae), but they usually will not stop at a few holes. Instead, these pests end up devouring or skeletonizing the entire plant. Spraying the rosebushes with a good insecticide that has the culprit listed will help to gain control of the situation. The rose leaves with damage to them may be removed if desired, but again, affected rosebushes will usually bring forth new foliage that will perform better.

Rose chafers can also cause this type of damage but will usually attack the blooms as well. Caterpillars are another common pest of roses. Their damage usually presents as numerous irregular areas near the center of the leaves, or entire leaves eaten. Most of these can be hand picked off and dropped into a bucket of water. Likewise, the use of Bacillus thuringiensis is another nontoxic approach for them.

Remember to take the time to truly inspect your rosebushes on a regular basis, as catching any problem early goes a very long way to a timely cure!

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