Gardening Advice

Roses, Black spot

Black spot is a disease caused by a fungus called Marssonina (or diplocarpon) rosae; the symptoms appear quickly starting with black spots on the leaves, followed by yellowing and finally premature leaf fall. The spots are sometimes very widespread and can cover the entire leaf. The disease often starts with the leaves at the bottom of the bush, and then gradually moves up the plant. Repeated damage will weaken the plant and may even be fatal. Luckily gardeners are very familiar with this disease and they recognise it early on, so a few simple actions will prevent it from spreading.

  • Mechanical treatment methods:

    When you buy a rose bush, remember to choose a resistant variety, preferably an old rose species which has better resistance to the fungus. However, this is not always the case, so we would advise you to consult a real rose specialist rather than a sales assistant in a supermarket or garden centre.

    Example: http://www.roses-anciennes-eve.com
    The fungus overwinters on dead leaves or branches. In spring, wet weather causes the production of spores which attack the young leaves and pierce their epidermis. The black mycelium invades the leaf and forms the first spots. Throughout the year the diseased leaves and branches should be picked up and burnt.

    Avoid spraying water on the plants, or if, as at Villandry, you cannot do otherwise, water very early in the morning, so that the sun can dry the leaves quickly.

  • Technical solutions used at Villandry:

    Copper-based treatments protect the plant and prevent the disease from spreading. Be careful not to exceed doses of the treatment as, although it is very efficient in damp weather, it is also toxic and remains in the soil. Every two weeks we spray the leaves with BORDEAUX MIXTURE (dose: 12.5 grams of powder for 10 litres of water).

We alternate treatments with Bordeaux mixture and a product made with fennel essential oil: HF Hector, www.hector-produits-naturels.com, dilution: 40 ml of HF for 10 litres of water.
If you follow this advice, the roses in your garden will spend a carefree summer and repeat flowering varieties will continue to give you a beautiful show of flowers.

Laurent Portuguez
head gardener 

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