Those leaves with the striking green and yellow marbled patterns festooning one of your rose plants may look like Mother Nature as artist, but don’t be fooled. More than likely, it’s the result of rose mosaic virus.
You may see yellow, white, or brownish lines, bands, rings, wavy lines, vein clearing or blotches on leaves. Symptoms vary depending on the type of rose, time of year and growing conditions, and the virus or viruses present. Sometimes only a part of the plant is affected.
Rose mosaic virus infects roses through budding, grafting, or rooting cuttings from infected plants. It’s not spread by insects or pruning tools. Infected roses may be symptomless until planted and begin growing in the garden.
Infected plants may grow more slowly, produce delayed or fewer flowers, and become more susceptible to frost damage. As there’s no cure or treatment for the pathogens that cause rose mosaic disease, you can either let it be and see how the plant fares over the course of a year or two, or replace the infected rose if it doesn’t perform well.
Prevention is the only real management option. Buy roses from reputable sources and that have been certified virus-free or virus resistant.
By Nanette Londeree, Master Rosarian