What Can I Spray on Roses for Bugs: Things You Need to Know

by Jennifer

Roses are a beloved addition to any garden, but they often fall prey to various pests and insects that can wreak havoc on their health and beauty. As a gardener, it’s essential to have effective strategies in place to protect your roses from these invaders. While there are numerous commercial pesticides available, many gardeners prefer more natural or DIY solutions to keep their roses bug-free. In this article, we’ll explore various options for what you can spray on roses for bugs, ranging from organic concoctions to commercially available products.


Understanding Common Rose Pests

Before delving into solutions, it’s crucial to understand the pests that commonly afflict roses. Some of the most prevalent include:

1. Aphids: These tiny, pear-shaped insects feed on the sap of rose plants, often congregating on new growth.

2. Thrips: Thrips are small, slender insects that pierce the surface of rose petals and leaves, causing damage and discoloration.

3. Spider Mites: These minuscule pests are difficult to spot with the naked eye but can cause significant damage by sucking the juices from rose leaves.

4. Japanese Beetles: Easily recognizable by their metallic green bodies, Japanese beetles feed on rose foliage, causing skeletonization of leaves.

5. Caterpillars: Various caterpillar species, such as rose sawfly larvae and budworms, can chew through rose leaves and buds, causing significant damage.

Now that we’ve identified some common rose pests, let’s explore effective solutions to combat them.

1. Neem Oil

Derived from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), neem oil is a popular organic pesticide with insecticidal properties. It works by disrupting the feeding and reproductive cycles of many common garden pests, including aphids, thrips, and spider mites.

To use neem oil on roses, mix it with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and spray it onto the foliage, making sure to cover both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. Repeat applications every 7-14 days, especially after rainfall or irrigation.

2. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soaps are another effective and environmentally friendly option for controlling pests on roses. These soaps work by suffocating insects on contact without harming beneficial insects or other wildlife.

To make your own insecticidal soap solution, mix mild liquid soap (such as castile soap) with water in a spray bottle and apply it directly to affected rose plants. Be sure to test a small area of the plant first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage, and avoid using on hot or sunny days to prevent leaf burn.

3. Horticultural Oil

Horticultural oils, also known as dormant oils or summer oils, are highly refined petroleum-based oils that can effectively smother and kill soft-bodied insects like aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. These oils work by coating the insects’ bodies and disrupting their cellular membranes, ultimately leading to their demise.

Apply horticultural oil to roses during the dormant season or in early spring before new growth appears. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding dilution and application rates, and avoid using when temperatures are above 90°F to prevent plant damage.

4. Pyrethrin

Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide derived from the chrysanthemum flower (Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium) that is highly effective against a wide range of insect pests, including aphids, thrips, and beetles. It works by disrupting the nervous system of insects upon contact, leading to rapid paralysis and death.

Commercial pyrethrin products are available in various formulations, including ready-to-use sprays and concentrates. When using pyrethrin on roses, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and avoid spraying during peak pollination times to minimize harm to beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

5. Companion Planting

Companion planting involves strategically placing certain plants near roses to help deter pests and attract beneficial insects. Some plants that are known to repel common rose pests include:

1. Marigolds: Marigolds emit a strong scent that repels aphids, nematodes, and other pests.

2. Lavender: Lavender attracts pollinators like bees while repelling moths and fleas.

3. Garlic: Garlic emits a pungent odor that deters aphids, beetles, and other pests.

By incorporating these companion plants into your garden, you can create a more balanced ecosystem that supports the health and vitality of your roses.

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural, abrasive powder made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae. It works by physically damaging the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.

To use diatomaceous earth on roses, simply sprinkle a thin layer around the base of the plants or directly onto foliage where pests are present. Reapply after rainfall or irrigation, as it loses effectiveness when wet.

7. Homemade Garlic Spray

Garlic has natural insecticidal properties that can help repel pests from roses when used in a homemade spray. To make garlic spray, finely chop or crush several cloves of garlic and steep them in water for 24 hours. Strain out the garlic solids and transfer the infused water to a spray bottle. Apply the garlic spray to rose foliage, taking care to cover all surfaces.


Maintaining healthy, pest-free roses requires a proactive approach to pest management. By utilizing a combination of organic and commercial solutions, as well as cultural practices like companion planting, you can effectively control common rose pests while minimizing harm to beneficial insects and the environment. Experiment with different methods to find the ones that work best for your garden, and remember to always follow label instructions when using pesticides. With diligence and care, you can enjoy beautiful, thriving roses for years to come.


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