Rose rosette disease has made its way back into Schenectady’s Central Park Rose Garden, and for the first time it may have infected roses in Yaddo Gardens in Saratoga Springs as well.
The disease, present in the Central Park garden for the first time last season, infected several of the 4,000-plus bushes in 2012. This year, four have exhibited symptoms so far.
Rose rosette is vectored by a tiny mite that can be transported by the wind. The disease can also be spread by grafting.
There is no known cure, so infected plants must be dug up and disposed of.
Last season, all infected bushes were taken out of the Central Park Rose Garden, but that didn’t stop the disease from returning, said Dave Gade, garden operations supervisor for the rose garden and a master rosarian with the American Rose Society.
Gade discovered four bushes that exhibited the disease’s symptoms last Wednesday in the rose garden and had three of them out of the ground by Friday.
One bush was only partially affected, so he simply trimmed it.
“I’ve got some later information that if [the infection is] not that bad and you cut it off, you may be able to save the bush, but you want to watch it and spray it to try to kill the mites,” he said.
Bushes in the immediate vicinity of those infected are being sprayed with the insecticide malathion, and Gade and the volunteers he oversees are keeping a close watch for further disease symptoms.
“Observation all the time is the key to this, to kind of stop it right in its tracks,” he said. “We don’t want to spray the whole garden. It wouldn’t hurt, I suppose, but I don’t like to spread any more insecticides than I’ve got to.”
In Saratoga County, members of the Yaddo Garden Association are assessing several rose bushes in Yaddo Gardens that appear to be infected with rose rosette disease. Approximately 250 rose bushes grow there.
“It looks like probably this disease has made it to our area, so it’s not something we’re just reading about anymore. It’s kind of become a reality,” said Yaddo Garden Association member Ralph Vincent, a member of the American Rose Society and a consulting rosarian.
The roses exhibiting symptoms at Yaddo may simply be showing side affects of herbicide use, but association members are discussing what controls to use if the bushes are confirmed to be infected with rose rosette disease, he said.