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What to know about rose rosette disease

The disease, also known as the witches' broom virus, can easily spread from garden to garden.

TYLER, Texas — The thorny rose bush is a big business for the Rose City so Tylerites should be informed on the viral disease that can be crippling to the plants we are known for here in East Texas.

'Rose Rosette' is a virus that infects plants from the inside out, and according to Smith County horticulturist Greg Grant, it only takes one tiny insect to get the infection going.

"It [Rose Rosette] doesn't spread by spores like fungal diseases," Grant said. "It doesn't spread through the soil like other diseases. It doesn't spread through leafy debris. This is only spread by a tiny little mite that sucks the sap out of one plant and then sucks the sap out of another plant and it generally doesn't crawl very far. It is so little that the wind blows it."

That tiny insect is known as an eriophyid mite. Grant says by spreading your rose bushes out, the chance of infection may be reduced but gardeners should remain on the lookout.

Credit: kytx
Eriophyid Mites spread the disease through plant propagation

"Here in East Texas we currently have it under control but what to do if you see an infected rose is to remove it entirely," Grant said.

The disease is also known as the witches broom virus as it causes roses to grow in a densely clustered appearance, sometimes with excess leaves or thorns. 

There is no treatment for rose rosette so infected plants should be removed and discarded. If you are unsure if your garden has been infected, you can send a sample to the Texas A&M Disease Diagnostic lab where they will test for the disease. For more information and submission forms, visit the plant clinic by following this link: http://plantclinic.tamu.edu/