Knowledge from Olle Garden Bed: Why Your Rose Leaves Have Holes

Come explore the various culprits causing holes in your rose leaves and what you can do to help prevent and overcome them! The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

Roses are beautiful garden flowers treasured for their elegant aesthetic appeal and delightful fragrance. However, if you notice holes appearing in your rose leaves, they may be at risk of some serious health issues. Let's explore the various culprits causing holes in rose leaves and what you can do about them!


Insect Infestation

The sweet scent and vibrant colors of roses are not only pleasing to humans but also highly attractive to various insects. This makes them susceptible to quick infestations, especially during the peak flowering period in late spring to early summer.

Three main insects are likely to cause holes in your rose leaves!

Rose Chafer Beetles

Rose chafer beetles are pale green beetles with orange long legs that love to feed on rose leaves. They particularly focus on consuming the fleshy part between leaf veins, a process known as "skeletonization." This leaves large and uneven holes on the leaves throughout the plant.

To help rid your roses of these unwanted pests, you can handpick them from your plant if you only have a few of these creatures. Then, soak them in a bucket of soapy water. You can also invest in sticky traps, which will help you collect them in larger numbers with less effort. If you notice larger populations of these beetles attacking your roses (which may happen as they often travel in groups), you might need to create a physical barrier using coarse cotton cloth or invest in floating row covers.

Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs might also be paying a visit to your rose bushes, but these slow and tiny creatures are likely to be found on lower leaves and stems. You'll know that snails and slugs have been visiting your roses because they leave chewed, ragged holes on the leaves and often leave behind a trail of slime. The leaves may also start wilting due to the damage.

To deter snails and slugs from attacking your roses, you can manually pick them off the plant and soak them in a bucket of soapy water. You can also create homemade snail traps. Simply bury cups or flower pots horizontally in the garden, at soil level, and fill them with beer, apple peels, or potato or lettuce pieces to attract them. This method will help you gather these critters in bulk and divert their attention away from your roses!

Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly larvae are small, hairless, yellowish-green caterpillars that typically feed on rose bushes' leaves in early spring. They chew vigorously on the leaves, leaving nearly transparent brownish spaces or irregularly shaped holes.

To control the sawfly population, use natural or homemade insecticidal soaps or neem oil on the rose bushes. Birds and other insects like lacewings and ladybugs also eat sawflies. You can help attract more of these visitors to your garden by planting a variety of different plants near your roses.

Fungal Diseases

While fungal diseases that typically attack roses, such as black spot or powdery mildew, may not directly cause holes in the leaves, they weaken the leaves, making them more susceptible to tearing or hole formation.

Pay attention to any visual cues your roses provide indicating their health might be at risk. Wilting leaves, the formation of spots, and changes in leaf or flower color (yellowing or browning) may be signs that your roses need extra care and attention.

Extreme Weather

If you reside in an area prone to extreme weather, especially strong wind, rain, and hail storms, your roses also face a higher risk of damage. This includes broken branches, torn petals, and holes in the leaves.

Ensure to monitor local forecasts for any upcoming storm warnings and take necessary precautions to keep your roses safe. Cover young rose seedlings with pots or buckets. If your roses grow in garden beds, use waterproof fabric to form protective covers. If your roses are growing against walls, you can cover them with large pieces of wood, cardboard, or plastic sheets. Ensure to secure the protective covers properly to prevent them from being blown away by the wind.

Keeping Your Roses Hole-Free

Holes in rose leaves can be frustrating for anyone passionate about growing these beautiful flowers. Recognizing the underlying causes of these holes is the first step to effectively address the issue. By implementing prevention measures such as regular inspection and using organic pest control methods, you can ensure your roses stay healthy and hole-free.