Climbing rose bush being eaten


My rose bush, which looks healthy otherwise, is being eaten by something but the culprit is not visible to me. No beetles, aphids etc.

I have noticed that the boxwood which is beside it has hundreds of tiny flies within the foliage noticeable when I brush it with my hands. I put the hose on it to get rid of them to no avail.



Hello, I am sorry to hear that your climbing rose is under attack.  It’s very difficult to identify the culprit without a photograph of the damage.  Roses are targets for so many pests, often multiple attacks at the same time: we really need to narrow things down.  However, we can look at your Boxwood issue and see if we can get any clues.  This is about the time we see evidence of Boxwood leafminer,  The leafminer lays its tiny orange eggs on the underside of the boxwood leaves, and the adults (called midges) emerge in the spring as tiny mosquito like flying insects.  Sounds a bit like your issue?  Leafminers do also attack ornamental flowering plants including roses, but you would definitely see evidence of this on the leaves.

I will attach a link with more information on boxwood leafminer, but meanwhile let us see what we can do about your climbing rose.

I suggest you send in a photograph of the leaves and flower buds; we can have a better chance of determining the attacker.  But as pests frequently attack plants under stress, let’s look at some maintenance tips that will go a long way to keeping your rose healthy and able to fight off invaders

Pruning: Generally, the rose shrub should be pruned in early spring after all danger of hard frost has passed.  You could do this now.  Remove any dead or weak branches.  Important to remove all diseased plant material and dispose in garbage.  NOT compost.

Ensuring good soil: Amend the soil with compost and well-rotted manure to provide a good growing environment. This provides nutrients for the rose plant, and also feeds the helpful organisms found in the soil.

Fertilizing: Use a rose formulated fertilizer.  You should be applying now but stop fertilizing after July.  This is to prevent soft new growth easily damaged by winter approach.

Watering:  Keep up the watering, but do not let soil become soggy.  Always water deeply but letting the top couple of inches dry before watering again.

Here are some other sites that may be useful in keeping your rose healthy.  Best of luck with this.

rose bush


Pruning Roses: A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide


Time to Deal with Boxwood Leaf Miners