This poor potted rose bush (don't know the type) has just been getting worse and worse:

Clearly a disease, but what? Can it be saved? I've already pruned 2 branches that had basically died, but it's still spreading. I'm worried it will spread to my other plants -- can this infect my nearby wisteria, hydrangeas or peppers/tomatoes/etc? How far can it "hop"?

  • I don't know rose diseases well enough to ID, or really speculate on saving it, but I will say this. Most plant diseases are restricted to infecting a single Family or Genus, occasionally even to a single Species. If you have other roses in the area, I might be concerned about those (depending on how your disease in question spreads).
    – GardenerJ
    Aug 19, 2015 at 20:27
  • I do have a climbing rose (different type, but don't remember either) planted near the wisteria, probably 10 feet away from this potted rose. Think I'll move the potted one further down the driveway for now. Good to know it probably won't bother anything else, though. Thanks.
    – AndrewG
    Aug 19, 2015 at 20:29
  • Andrew! Are you a smoker? This looks like tobacco mosaic virus...the yellow and green. If so next year always wash your hands before touching plants or gardening. This might transfer to peppers but really won't be too big of a deal...gotta not plant tomatoes, peppers, potatoes...in this same soil for a year or so. Let me know if you are a smoker (oh for shame...grins!! I used to be and saw a lot of this and got me to quit...)...
    – stormy
    Aug 22, 2015 at 23:57
  • I'm not a smoker, but strangely enough I did get an Indian tobacco plant (which promptly died). Hrmmm.
    – AndrewG
    Aug 23, 2015 at 0:30

2 Answers 2


Rose rust, yes, but the poor thing will never be very healthy contained in a pot. Unless its a miniature or dwarf/patio rose, they really don't do that well in containers over time. If you can find a space for it in the ground, do so, and prune back to outward facing buds on each stem, taking any topgrowth which looks unhealthy before you plant it out. Burn (if possible) any unhealthy leaves/growth, particularly parts with rust, and remove fallen leaves from the ground and surrounding area. The rust infection shouldn't affect your plants apart from your other rose.

It would be useful to know which variety of rose it is to give proper advice on pruning, which can help with reducing the incidence of fungal infection by increasing air flow through the plant. It will help the plant's health if you add composted manure to the planting area when you plant it out, and to feed it in Spring and again in summer with a specialist rose food (don't know where you are, but something like Toprose in the UK), and have a spray such as Roseclear Ultra at the ready. Most roses need spraying fortnightly with a product such as Roseclear from late spring through to autumn to keep fungal infections and aphid infestation at bay.


It looks to me like rose rust. If so, it's a fungal disease that is specific to roses so it won't affect any other plant species, and despite making the rose look a mess, it's not a particularly serious disease. See https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=269

The blackened leaf in your second picture looks like to me like is just "dead" and/or burned by the sun, but check out this page on black spot, which is more serious problem. See https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=270

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