Killer Virus Attacks Kansas City Roses
Symptoms of rose rosette often include uncontrolled stem growth, red foliage and excessive thorns. The disease is lethal to many rose species, including those usually disease-resistant.
A virus is attacking roses around the Kansas City area, and so far experts have no idea how to stop it.
Agriculture officials in Johnson and Jackson counties in Missouri are hearing increasing reports from gardeners about rose rosette, a disease known to the Midwest for decades. At least four rose beds along traffic routes and outside city buildings in Overland Park are scheduled for removal due to the virus, and some home gardens are being affected as well.
Symptoms of the disease vary depending on the species of rose infected, but a recent case reported reddened leaves, uncontrolled stem growth and excessive new thorns on the plants. Infected rose plants often die within one to two years.
Experts recommend digging out and destroying infected plants. Wind-borne microscopic mites that feed on roses spread the virus.
Horticultural specialist Lala Kumar told the Kansas City Star that the disease has been getting progressively worse over the past four or five years, and usually peaks in June and July. Other experts said that contaminated pruning shears can spread the disease, and miticides that gardeners or landscapers might use to try to stop the disease would only be marginally effective, as the mites burrow deep into the rose's tissues.