Problems, pests and diseases

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

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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. 

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

Cause: Insufficient Water

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 bush. They will just need to be maintained so 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 containers you will most certainly need to water much more frequently then if they are grown in the ground. 

Cause: Too Much Water

Make sure to look for yellowing of the leaves with the wilt as a sure sign of too much water.

Solution: If you notice the rose bush is wilting, but the leaves are not stopping at a droop, 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 watered logged and is free draining. if growing in pots, make sure that the container has large enough drainage holes.

Cause: Cankers

You should remove any affected area as soon as you see it, 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 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 which cause the leaves to wilt. 

Cause: 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 for 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. 

Cause: 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 grew treated with a fungicide.  

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

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Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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