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Rose Soil Sickness (Rose Replant Disease)

Updated on April 15, 2012
a sickly rose growing in a border suffering from rose soil sickness
a sickly rose growing in a border suffering from rose soil sickness | Source

Rose soil sickness, or its more aptly named rose replant disease, occurs suddenly and for no known reason.

The ground or border in which you grew your roses suddenly refuses to allow rose bushes to grow or thrive.

Perhaps you notice the roses you have grown for years looking a little tired, and decide to replace one or two with brand new rose bushes.

The new roses simply fail to thrive.

While they don't actually actually die, they refuse to grow an just sit there looking dejected and out of place.

If this happens to your rose garden, you may find that the ground has developed rose soil sickness.

The really sad part is that (at the time of writing this) there is no known cure.

Your rose plants can grow perfectly well if planted elsewhere in the garden.

Other plants grow well in your rose garden.

It is only the roses themselves that refuse to grow, and if your garden or yard has limited space and there is no place else to put your roses, then this can come as a major blow to gardeners.

the few remaining roses are sad shadows of their former selves, while all other plants grow well in a border suffering from rose replant disease
the few remaining roses are sad shadows of their former selves, while all other plants grow well in a border suffering from rose replant disease | Source

Causes of rose soil sickness

Gardeners and scientists alike have looked for a cause of rose soil sickness, or rose replant disease.

There are no soil deficiencies, nor an overproduction of either essential or trace elements.

There is no nematode too small for the eye to see, and no sign of insect or fungal infestations present.

In fact, there is nothing to even hint at what the problem is, except the symptoms to show that the roses refuse to thrive, both new and old.

These roses will grow perfectly well elsewhere, and any other garden plant apart from roses will grow well in the affected soil.

Without a known cause, it is impossible to rectify the soil so that roses may thrive once again.

Remedy for rose soil sickness

Most professional rose growers recommend the ground lies fallow for anything up to 20 years, after which rose bushes may be tentatively re-introduced.

When talking about professional areas being affected by rose replant disease, this is a major blow to rose growers as those areas may be the size of a field and not many businesses can afford to leave an area this size fallow for such an extended period of time.

One possible cure that seems to work is to remove all the topsoil and replace it with fresh topsoil brought in from an unaffected area.

While professional rose growers can hire mechanical diggers to do the hard work, home rose gardeners may find this option to be a last resort, due to the amount of sheer hard work involved in topsoil replacement.

The topsoil removed from your rose-bed is perfectly safe for use elsewhere in the garden, as it is not diseased or harmful to any plant other than roses.

However, if your garden size is small and limited, it may not be practical for you to move your roses to a fresh bed and turn your rose bed into an vegetable patch or non-rose flower border.

my rose border
my rose border | Source

My rose garden has rose replant disease

Off to the side of my sloping front garden lies my wide rose garden. Roses have grown there for at least 50 years in front of a sheltered high wall, and in full sun.

But now, the few remaining rose bushes lie forlorn and the new ones I have tried to plant have all but disappeared.

The border is huge - at least 60' long and over 20' at its widest, gently curving downwards around a pebbled pathway.

I am doing what many before me have had to do, and replanting the border with flowers and bushes, all of which are doing exceptionally well, proving that the soil sickness only affects roses.

if you have never heard of rose replant disease, or rose soil sickness, then please be aware that it can happen anytime, any place, and that when it does there is absolutely nothing you can do, until someone finds a cure.


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    • GardenExpert999 profile image

      GardenExpert999 6 years ago from Scotland

      Replant disease can affect a lot of plants, apparently, not just roses. It must be something in the soil :(

    • seo4site profile image

      seo4site 6 years ago

      really interesting. Smth new for me))) thanks a lot