My roses have looking sickly for about a year or so and I was at my wits end trying to figure out what was wrong with them. They would sprout new leaves and new buds, but then the leaves would get dark blotchy spots on them and they’d turn brown and fall off leaving only the bare canes and a few buds. The buds would eventually open up into full sized flowers but there there wasn’t a single leaf left on the bush. It was quite an odd sight. I also noticed that their growth was stunted. Rose bushes that I’ve had for a couple of years were only about two feet tall and they weren’t growing. I asked at several nurseries and finally one of them told me that it was something called “peronospora” which is commonly known as Downey Mildew. Apparently it’s quite common in areas with high humidity and cool cloudy days. Exactly my climate up at the mountain house.
I set about searching for an organic method of control and I found all kinds of home remedies ranging from milk spray, to baking soda spray to vinegar spray. I tried them all and it was utterly useless. A complete waste of time. The downey mildew continued wreaking havoc in my garden with almost renewed strength. Another suggestion I read was that I plant only resistant varieties. Well that’s just great in places where there are thousands of rose varieties to choose from. But where I live, you have to plant whatever you can get. Resistant or not. Mostly not.
There aren’t too many varieties to choose from here, much less imported resistant roses. I’ve started alot of mine from cuttings that my mother has sent me from her roses in California, and others I’ve bought at a local nursery who also starts many of their rose varieties from cuttings given to them by customers. So even nurseries don’t know which ones are resistant and which ones aren’t. I wasn’t about to dig up and throw away all my roses and put swamp plants in their place. So after trying to do organic battle with this rose virus for about a year, I finally decided that it was time to bring in the big guns. I was determined not to loose my roses without a fight. So I went to the garden center’s pesticide area and bought a liquid especially formulated to control Downey Mildew. It was like magic. Within two weeks I could see an enormous difference in my roses. I can’t say that the mildew has been completely erradicated yet but it definitely is under control now. In the pictures you can still see a few affected leaves, but there aren’t very many of them anymore. I spray my roses every two weeks and hopefully in the coming months I will be able to spray them less frequently.
I am reluctant to spray my grapevines however, because I can’t bear the thought of eating grapes that have been sprayed with chemicals but some of my grapes have been affected by Downey Mildew as well. I planted a Moldavian variety almost two years ago and they should have been producing fruit by now. Unfortunately their growth has been so stunted by the disease that they are not even three feet tall yet and some are still only about a foot tall. I’ve been fertilizing like crazy to try and give them a boost but I’m beggining to accept the fact that I will eventually have to spray them with a commercial spray if I want to save them from certain death. Fortunately I also planted a variety called Isabella which does quite well here and seems to be resistant so far.
Other than the roses and the grapes, everything else seems to be doing ok and held up quite well during the rainy season.
Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage
Show And Tell Friday at My Romantic Home
Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden in Malevik