Problems, pests and diseases

Wilting rose leaves that are drooping and how to revive a rose that is wilting

Last updated on April 5th, 2022

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Roses are considered one of the most popular garden plants no matter where you live. The problem manifests when your rose leaves start wilting and drooping, leaving a sad-looking bush behind. 

What can you do for wilting and drooping leaves? That depends on the cause. Thankfully, there are many fixes for different causes. 

Insufficient Watering

If the leaves on your rose bush are droopy, it could mean they aren’t getting enough water, as with any plant. 

Solution: Increase how much you are watering your rose bushes. They will just need to be maintained so that the soil is kept moist but not overwatered. If the weather is warm and temperatures rising, you might need to increase this amount and if you grow roses in pots and containers you will most certainly need to water them much more frequently than if they are being grown in the ground. 

Too Much Water

Make sure to look for the yellowing of the leaves along with the wilt because this is a sure sign of too much water.

Solution: If you notice your rose bush is wilting, and the leaves are not stopping when they are drooping, but are going one step further and falling off, it could be too much water. If this is the case water less frequently and ensure the soil is not waterlogged and is free draining. If you are growing your roses pots, make sure that the container has large enough drainage holes.


You should remove any affected areas as soon as you see them, cutting below the actual canker. Do not add this to compost, but instead dispose of it. You can also employ preventative measures by keeping your rose bush clear of debris around the base and removing any mulch before the winter sets in to help prevent additional encounters with cankers. 

Solution: Cankers on the bush stem will cause drooping, particularly in the winter. Cankers are a fungal disease that manifests as sunken, brown areas that cause the leaves to wilt.

Aphids and Thrips

Solution: If you notice aphids (small, green insects) or thrips (small, brown insects) on your rose bush leaves, it is time to exterminate. These bugs are so small you might need a magnifying glass to examine the leaves in search of their tell-tale signs. You can also just shake the leaves and look for small, flying bugs fleeing from the disturbance. 

If you have thrips, any affected areas need to be cut away and an insecticide applied. If you have aphids, you can use non-chemical methods like spraying the entire rose bush with a mixture of dish soap and water, but an insecticide is the best way to control a large infestation. Remember, too, even missing the underside of one leaf and letting a handful of aphids remain can cause a repeat infestation. 

Verticillium Wilt

Solution: If you notice droopy leaves that also have dark veins along the tissue, or dead tissue streaks in the leaves, this might be a fungus called Verticillium Wilt. You will need to have a sample of your rose leaves taken and sent to a laboratory for testing. If the test is positive, the entire rose bush must be removed and destroyed, and the soil where it has been grown treated with a fungicide.  

Overall, you can restore the former glory of your rose bush leaves no matter their wilt, as long as you catch the issue early and provide the right treatment.

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