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Spider mites can cause you major headaches in your rose garden. However, with a little bit of diligence and a lot of vigilance you can keep them out and keep your roses beautiful.
In previous issues we have reviewed solutions for fungus and for insects. Now that we are in the heat and dry of summer this is a great time to talk about the solutions for mites. Mites are the third member of the team that are out to get your garden (fungus, insects, mites). These critters are a difficult problem once they are established, but there are steps that can be taken to make sure that they don’t get comfortable in your rose garden.
The mite that we deal with the most in the world of roses is the Two Spotted Spider Mite. Spider Mites are in the arachnid family and are extremely small. They can be seen easily with a magnifying glass and unfortunately the results of their feeding on your roses can be seen easily with the naked eye. Generally, the leaves will lose their brilliant green color and become faded and tan or brown. You can often see their webbing on the underside of the leaf. The underside of the leaf will often look dusty as well because of the dirt and debris that gets caught in the webs. There are ways to help avoid this fate for your garden though.
1. Keep your roses watered – the best way to avoid any issue is to keep your roses healthy. In the heat of summer rose bushes need 5 gallons of water per plant per week or an inch of rain. Well watered bushes will be able to handle any stress better than thirsty plants and that includes spider mites.
2. Use your hose –if you check the bottom of the leaves and see that you are beginning to get spider mites, spray the tops and bottoms of the leaves with your hose. To many rose growers this seems counter-intuitive because leaves are supposed to be dry as much as possible. The spray from the hose knocks the spider mites off of the bush and they cannot crawl back on. Make sure to try this in the morning or early afternoon so the bushes can dry before nightfall and keep up with your fungicide application.
3. Miticides – there are several miticides that are available to homeowners to help control mite problems. Products such as Avid, Neem Oil, and pyrethrin based sprays are effective to reduce the spider mite colonies. These should be use in conjunction with the steps listed above for greatest effect. Click here to see what Witherspoon’s selection of mite-busting products.
One more item to keep in mind is that if your garden is next to brick or surrounded by rock or concrete you may have more mite difficulties. These surfaces hold the heat causing a very warm microclimate that the mites will love. Wash down these surfaces with water as much as possible.