What is Eating My Rose Bushes? A Gardening Dilemma

5/5 - (14 votes)

What Is Eating My Rose Bushes

Are you finding your beloved rose bushes in a less than ideal state? You might be dealing with a silent invader, causing mischief when your back is turned.

There are numerous culprits that could potentially be feasting on your roses— each leaving its unique signature of damage to your plants. Identifying these signs is the first step to reclaiming the health of your garden.

What Is Eating My Rose Bushes?

The most common pests that target rose bushes include Japanese beetles, aphids, blackspot fungus, and rose midges. These organisms have a high preference for roses and often manifest themselves by causing visible damage to the leaves, buds, and flowers of your rose bushes.

– Aphids

Description Small, soft-bodied insects with pear-shaped bodies, typically found in clusters, sucking sap from rose bushes and causing leaf curling.
Damage Plant damage caused by the pest includes defoliation, stunted growth, reduced yield, and weakened plant health.
Control Implement natural predators, such as ladybugs, and use insecticidal soap or neem oil to deter and control aphids on rose bushes.

Aphids and Rose Plants: Aphids are small insects that feed on plant sap, causing significant damage to your rose bushes. They can lead to yellowed, distorted, and stunted plants with poor growth. Aphids also secrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can cause sooty mold fungus.

Controlling Aphids on Roses: Aphids can be controlled in a number of ways. For small infestations, dislodging them with a strong blast of water from a hose is often effective. For larger infestations, introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings which eat aphids can be helpful. Alternatively, you can use organic insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprays, which are effective against aphids without harming beneficial insects. Regular observation and early intervention can help keep your roses healthy and aphid-free. Remember that overly vigorous plants, especially those over-fertilized with nitrogen, tend to attract aphids. Hence, balanced feeding of your rose plants is essential.

– Slugs

Description Small, slimy, nocturnal pests with soft bodies, leaving behind irregular holes and silvery trails on rose leaves.
Damage Leaves with irregular holes and slimy trails.
Control Implement physical barriers, such as copper tape or diatomaceous earth, and encourage natural predators like frogs and birds.

Slugs are a common pest of rose bushes. They often chew holes in the leaves and cause the foliage to have an overall ragged appearance. Slugs also leave behind a distinctive slimy trail on the leaves and stems. This damage not only stresses out your roses but can also make them more susceptible to disease or other pests.Important: Slugs on your Rose Bushes.

For solutions, you can use slug repellents, slug traps, or slug deterrent plants to repel or capture slugs. Another non-chemical method involves laying down a copper barrier around your rose bushes. Slugs don’t like sliding over copper, so this can effectively deter them. For a more natural approach, you can introduce predators like birds and frogs to your garden.Effective Solutions: Use slug repellents, slug traps, copper barriers and predator introduction.

– Snails

Description Small, slimy, shell-bearing pests that leave a slimy trail and consume leaves and flowers of rose plants.
Damage Defoliation, holes in leaves, destruction of petals, stunted growth, plant death.
Control Prevent and control this pest by removing hiding spots, using barriers, applying organic repellents, and introducing natural predators.

Snails: Impact and Solutions

Snails can cause significant damage to your hostas. They mainly feed on the leaves, making holes and leaving behind a slimy trail. As they eat, they will also lay eggs, which can lead to a larger infestation. Over time, severe snail damage can reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and grow, eventually weakening and killing it.

The most effective way to control snail damage is by using a combination methods. This can include physical removal — handpicking snails off your plants regularly, especially during rainy or damp weather when they are most active — and using barriers like crushed eggshells or copper tape around your hostas, which snails don’t like to cross due to its rough texture. It could also involve using organic bait or commercial products specifically designed to kill snails. Always remember to check under leaves and near the base of the plant where snails like to hide during the day.

– Japanese beetles

Description Invasive pests with metallic green bodies, bronze wings, and voracious appetites, causing significant damage to rose bushes.
Damage Devouring leaves, flowers, and stems, leaving plants weakened and disfigured.
Control Use organic pesticides, handpick them off, attract predatory insects, apply neem oil, and maintain healthy soil to prevent and control the pest.

Impact of Japanese Beetles: Japanese beetles are a common pest known to feast on rose bushes. They chew the tissue between the veins of leaves, giving them a skeletal appearance. This significantly weakens the bush, often causing leaves to drop prematurely.

Control Japanese Beetles: Hand-picking is a strategy if the infestation is small. For larger beetle populations, spraying a mixture of water and dish soap onto the plants can deter pests. It’s also recommended to keep the garden clean, as beetles are attracted to overripe or rotten fruit. For long-term management, consider introducing beneficial insects like the parasitic wasp, which preys on beetle larvae, or use a controlled and specific pesticide application.

Another effective, yet time-intensive method is the use of pheromone traps, which attract and trap the beetles, reducing their numbers. Lastly, applying neem oil, a natural pesticide, can deter beetles and other pests from your rose bushes. Always remember that proper care and attention to your plants can prevent pest infestations before they start.

What Is Eating My Rose Bushes Identification and Solutions

– Deer

Description Large herbivorous mammal with antlers that feed on the leaves and flowers of rose bushes.
Damage Devoured leaves, stripped stems, and destroyed flowers.
Control Use physical barriers such as fences or repellents, plant deer-resistant species, or apply deterrent sprays to protect rose bushes from deer.

Rose Bushes and Deer

Deer are known to have a fondness for roses. They usually browse the tender growth, blossoms, and sometimes even stems of rose bushes. The damage they cause is notable, such as jagged or torn leaves and stems, as they tend to pull the plant material rather than cleanly cutting it.

The best way to deter deer is through a combination of deer-resistant plants, physical barriers, and repellents. Choose other plants that deer find less attractive and plant them around your roses as a first line of defense.

Physical Barriers

Constructing physical barriers such as high fences can effectively keep deer away from your roses. Such barriers need to be sufficiently high, about 8 feet, as deer are excellent jumpers.


Another line of defense can be the use of various deer repellents available in garden centers. These can be sprayed on and around the rose bushes to deter deer. Please note, these need to be reapplied regularly especially after rainfall.

Remember to rotate your repellents and strategies because deer can grow used to one method over time.

– Rabbits

Description Silent invader causing mischief, feasting on roses, leaving unique signature of damage, potentially responsible for unhealthy garden.
Damage chew on leaves and stems, resulting in defoliation and stunted growth.
Control Prevent and control this pest from eating our plants by installing fences or netting, using repellents, and removing hiding spots.

Rabbits are common pests that can cause damage to rose bushes. They are particularly fond of the tender shoots, leaves, and buds. They gnaw on these parts, leaving cleanly cut edges that might give a pruned look.

Identification: Damage is characterized by cleanly cut plant stems, usually at a 45-degree angle. You may also notice droppings around the plant and trails in the grass leading to your roses.

Solutions: To stop rabbits from eating your roses, you can use a variety of approaches. Fencing is one of the most effective ways to keep rabbits out. Use chicken wire or hardware cloth with 1 inch or smaller openings. This should be buried at least 6 inches deep and should stand about 2 feet high.

Another method is to use repellents. Commercial rabbit repellents can deter them with their taste or scent. Home remedies such as garlic, hot sauce, or pepper can also be used.

Lastly, consider plants that rabbits dislike around your roses as a natural deterrent. Examples of these plants include geraniums, iris, and daylilies. Remember to keep the area around your roses clean and free of plant debris as these can provide hiding spots for rabbits.

Please seek advice from a local horticulturist or gardening center if your problem persists. Always follow recommendations and precautions on commercial product labels.

Tags: Rabbits, Rose Bushes, Pest Damage, Gardening Solutions

– Squirrels️

Description Small mammals with sharp teeth and strong claws that are feeding on the leaves, flowers, and buds of our rose bushes.
Damage Significant damage to leaves, flowers, and stems, hindering plant growth and reducing overall aesthetic appeal.
Control Install barriers such as fences or netting, use repellents, trim overhanging branches, and remove fallen fruit to prevent squirrel damage to rose bushes.

Squirrels and Rose Bushes

Squirrels are known for their fondness of fruit, nuts, and seeds, but they may also be interested in your rose bushes. Often, squirrels may nibble at the tender buds, flowers, and leaves of rose bushes, particularly during periods when their preferred food source is scarce.

Effects of Squirrels on Rose Bushes

This nibbling can cause extensive damage, leaving your roses looking ragged and unhealthy. Over time, continuous damage can weaken the plant and hinder its ability to bloom or grow properly.


Protecting your roses from squirrels involves using deterrents such as motion-activated sprinklers or ultrasonic devices. Enclose your rose bushes in a wire mesh cage to physically prevent access. Additionally, commercial repellents help in keeping the squirrels away.

– Birds

Description Small, feathered pests with strong beaks, devouring the leaves, buds, and fruits of our rose bushes.
Damage Feathers left behind, stripped leaves and damaged flowers.
Control Use bird netting or scare devices like reflective tape or owl decoys to deter birds from eating plants.

The destruction of your rose bushes can be attributed to a variety of pests, including aphids, Japanese beetles, and black spot fungus. The symptoms you’re experiencing will help you identify the culprit.

Aphids are small insects that feed on the sap of rose bushes, leading to curled, yellowed, and distorted leaves. They also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew that attracts other pests and can lead to sooty mold.

Japanese beetles eat the leaves and flowers of roses, often leaving behind only the veins. They are a common pest in many areas and can cause significant damage if not controlled.

Black spot fungus is a disease that causes black spots on the leaves of roses, eventually causing them to fall off. This can significantly weaken the plant and even lead to its death if not treated promptly.

To control these pests, prune infested or diseased parts of the plant and dispose of them properly. Use an insecticide or fungicide suitable for the particular pest. Encourage natural predators of these pests in your garden, such as ladybugs and birds. Regularly monitor your plants and take action at the first sign of trouble.

Always remember that the best defense is a healthy plant. Roses prefer full sun, well-drained soil, and regular watering and feeding. They also benefit from generous amounts of well-rotted manure or compost to provide the nutrients they need to resist pests and diseases.

– Caterpillars

Description Use bird netting or scare devices like reflective tape or owl decoys to deter birds from eating plants.
Damage Severe foliage loss and defoliation.
Control Implement biological control methods such as introducing natural predators like ladybugs and birds, or use organic insecticides like neem oil.

can cause significant damage to rose bushes. They eat the leaves, damaging the photosynthetic ability of the plant which in turn affects its overall growth and blooming.

Tag: Effect of Caterpillars

To control caterpillars, you can physically remove them or use organic pest controls like Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural soil bacterium harmful to caterpillars but safe for humans, pets, and beneficial insects.

Tag: Caterpillar Control

Attract natural predators to your garden, such as birds and beetles, by planting native and flowering plants. Installing bird feeders and baths can also help.

Tag: Natural Predators

Remember to inspect your plants regularly for signs of caterpillar activity such as chewed leaves or droppings to ensure early intervention.

Tag: Regular Inspection

– Moles

Description Small burrowing mammals causing damage to the roots and underground parts of rose bushes, resulting in wilting and reduced plant health.
Damage Moles cause extensive root damage and disrupt the stability of rose bushes.
Control Install fencing or use mole repellents to prevent moles from accessing rose bushes and causing damage to plants.

The most common pests that eat zinnias are typically bugs, not moles. The primary suspects include caterpillars, slugs, and Japanese beetles. These pests can devour the flowers and also leave the foliage filled with holes.

Effects: Caterpillars chew on the leaves and can eat away an entire blossom overnight. Slugs, though slow-moving, can do a great deal of damage by eating the base of the stem, leaving a tell-tale silvery trail. Japanese beetles are small but extremely destructive, often eating from the top of the plant downwards.

Solutions: For a small infestation, handpicking the pests off can be highly effective. For larger problems, consider using an insecticidal soap or organic pesticide.Keeping the area weed-free can help to reduce habitats for these bugs. If all else fails, you may have to remove and destroy the affected plants to protect the rest of your garden.