Aphids on Rose Bushes – How to Get Rid of Aphids on Roses

Aphids can thrive on rose bushes. Rose aphids are the most common types of aphids that feed on the sap of rose bushes. These aphids also lay eggs in the soil around roses. They need to be eliminated before they negatively impact rose flowers, stems, and leaves.

Aphids on rose bushes are removed by using a gardening hose. They can also be hand-picked when grown commercially. Aphids can be killed or repelled from rose bushes by neem oil, alcohol, and horticultural oil.

Roses are some of the most popular flowers around the world. They are grown both at home and commercially. The way rose bushes are grown impacts how aphids are removed and prevented.

Rose bushes need constant attention as they can be impacted by various pests. Aphids such as Rose aphids and Potato aphids are common on the flowers.

Why are aphids on roses?

Aphids are present on roses to feed and reproduce. They suck plant sap and lay eggs next to rose bushes. Aphids aren’t a good sign when seen on roses as they can suck the sap to the point rose growth is hindered or even to the point the infested rose dies.

green ahpids rose bud

Aphids never leave rose bushes if you do not take direct action against them. These bugs lay eggs at the beginning of the fall right in the soil around rose bushes. These eggs hatch early in the spring and they signal the beginning of a new season for aphids.

When to remove aphids on rose bushes?

Aphids are present on roses as soon as the weather allows them in the spring. They continue to live and feed on rose bushes until early fall when temperatures start to drop and when roses die. Here’s how to get rid of aphids depending on the season.

Preventive measures in the spring

You can take preventive measures against aphids in the spring just before the overwintering eggs hatch. This includes spraying rose bushes with vinegar, alcohol, or another type of solution that acts as a pest deterrent.t

In the summer and fall

Aphids are more active during the summer. You can use any of the aphid removal methods below to eliminate the bugs from rose bushes. These measures need to be re-applied until mid-fall.

11 methods to get rid of aphids on roses

Rose bushes can be dense and aphids may not be immediately visible. You need to inspect the flowers properly including the underside of leaves to spot aphids.

These bugs can be dealt with using removal, prevention, and killing. In most cases, it’s best to use a combination of these strategies to eliminate aphids from roses.

Remove aphids by hand

Removing aphids by hand is one of the most common solutions against these invaders. This is only possible when there are just a few aphids on roses as they can quickly multiply into hundreds of bug invaders.

Female aphids are the first generation of invaders and they multiply without mating in the spring and early summer months. Aphids only mate with males late in the season which means these bugs have multiple mating periods per season. Here’s what you need to remember when removing aphids by hand.

  • Aphids don’t bite
  • You can pick individual aphids by hand
  • Collect aphids in a sealed plastic bag
  • Discard the sealed bag properly

Some stems and leaves can be so affected by aphids they aren’t worth saving and they might need to be removed to save rose bushes. You can cut small stems and a few leaves where you can concentrate aphid eggs that cannot be removed.

Why does it work? It eliminates large aphids before they can reproduce.

aphids on rose

Use a gardening hose

A gardening hose with a high-pressure nozzle configuration is often used against aphids. You can quickly wash away aphids using a potent garden hose.

Limiting maximum water pressure is also recommended to avoid damaging rose bushes. You need to use the hose on the rose flower itself, on its leaves, and the underside of the leaves. At the same time, you can also use the gardening hose to wash away the soil around the rose bush.

A gardening hose with a small nozzle has sufficient pressure to wash away aphids.

Why does it work? New roses need to be watered daily with or without aphids

Use a sponge to wash the roses

Sponges can be used in areas where a gardening hose cannot reach. Roses growing in remote areas can be dealt with by wiping sponges dipped in water or water with soap.

A plant is wiped completely with soap and water using a sponge when considering this method. Each leaf and each rose flower need to be wiped thoroughly.

This process is repeated daily until aphids are eliminated. Only a small amount of soap needs to be added to a bucket of water since this method is used daily.

Why does it work? Soap acts as a bud deterrent.

Rub alcohol on roses

Alcohol is often a solution when roses don’t grow in direct sunlight. Since most types of roses need direct sunlight you’ll need to wait for cloudy conditions to apply alcohol without dehydrating the leaves in direct sunlight. You can apply the alcohol method by the following techniques.

With a sponge: A sponge dipped in a bucket of water with 2-4 cups of alcohol is recommended to kill aphids while also wiping them off roses. You may apply this solution as a preventive measure as well as alcohol keeps almost all bugs away.

With a sprayer: An alcohol and water sprayer are the simplest and most efficient options to get rid of aphids. Alcohol kills aphids on the spot.

One of the main reasons to consider this option is that it instantly kills the bugs. On the other hand, alcohol sprays can also act as a deterrent as they can keep these bugs away for a long time.

Why does it work? Alcohol eats through the exoskeleton of aphids killing them on the spot.

Spray neem oil

Neem oil is a natural solution used against aphids on roses. This low-impact natural insecticide can be applied in very small amounts on certain types of roses. The more aromatic a rose is the less neem oil you can apply.

Bulgarian rose is one of the fragrant roses that can be protected with neem oil but in small quantities. Damask rose is known for its fragrance a low number of leaves can also be protected by a natural pet-safe product such as neem oil.

Why does it work?  Low impact and pet-safe solution against bugs.

ladybug eating aphids

Buy ladybugs

Natural predators are used in gardens with plenty of roses or in commercial scale rose growing. Ladybugs feed on aphids and they fly to the bushes where aphids live and reproduce to find them.

You might need anywhere between a few hundred ladybugs to a few thousand ladybugs depending on the size of your garden. These ladybugs are released in the garden or they can be attracted by first killing bug-deterring ants from around rose bushes.

Why does it work? A single ladybug can eat 40-50 aphids per day

Spray roses with vinegar at the end of the summer

Vinegar and water work similarly to alcohol and water on roses. It keeps aphids away and it stops them from coming back for a week.

You can spray vinegar and water on roses to create a protective barrier that keeps these bugs away. The solution is applied regularly to keep aphids away from roses.

You also need to spray the soil around the rose bush with vinegar in the fall to kill eggs. A larger amount of vinegar is needed to penetrate the soil and kill the eggs of these bugs.

Why does it work? The acetic acid in vinegar kills aphids.

Spray horticultural oil on the soil around rose bushes in the fall to kill aphid eggs

Horticultural oil is a type of pesticide which means it needs to be applied under specific conditions. The good part is horticultural oil kills aphids. It affects their respiratory system essentially leading to their suffocation. The main drawback of this solution is that it may not kill all aphid eggs.

Horticultural oil affects the breathing mechanism of aphids. This means aphids need to be breathing for the pesticide to kill them.

The timing of the application of horticultural oil on rose bushes is important. Bad timing may affect the flower without benefits. To avoid this you can spray horticultural oil early in the summer to allow aphids to develop and start breathing.

Why does it work? Horticultural blocks aphid breathing spiracles.

spraying rose bushes

Use insecticide

The insecticide is the last resort when it comes to dealing with a heavy aphid infestation. It might be the first option for rose bushes grown on a commercial scale since it ensures no bugs can damage these fragrant flowers.

The insecticide should be sprayed by a professional since it’s more dangerous than other solutions. However, spraying insecticide isn’t recommended in all situations without the input of a pest controller.

Insecticidal soap is a better alternative for roses that don’t need professional help.

Spray dishwasher liquid with water

Dishwasher liquid is sometimes used against mild aphid infestations on roses and rose bushes. You can spray a mixture of water and dishwasher liquid on roses in limited amounts to eliminate these bugs.

Aphids hate the smell of dishwasher liquid so you need to ant a liberal amount but not larger than ¼ cup of dishwasher per gallon of water to avoid damaging roses.

Plant deterring flowers and herbs next to roses

Getting rid of aphids on roses can sometimes benefit from other low-impact solutions such as using aphid-deterring plants. You can plant the following to get rid of aphids.

  • Asters
  • Marigolds
  • Dahlias

Asters are most commonly used against aphids as a preventive measure. You can plant asters all around roses for their aromatic profile to turn bugs away.

Asters can be planted in high numbers as long as they don’t impact roses and direct sunlight on roses.

Marigolds are also used similarly to asters as they also deter aphids. Dahlias are used in a smaller percentage against aphids but these flowers are also efficient (from the second year of growth) against aphids.

Most plants and flower aphids hate the need to lay roots. They need to be healthy and fragrant. This is typically not the case in the first planting year. This is why most rose growers recommend relying on asters, marigolds, and dahlias only from the second year of growth.

These plants can also be added among roses in pots. Potted asters and marigolds tend to show their benefit as soon as they’re moved between roses. They also tend to adapt quickly as these flowers aren’t as sensitive to weather changes as roses.

spraying roses

Is insecticidal soap safe for roses to remove aphids?

Insecticidal soap is made from fatty acids and hard soap. These are known to deter aphids. However, not all insecticidal soaps are the same. Only insecticidal soap that comes with a reduced risk of phytotoxicity is recommended on roses.

Insecticidal soap is not an actual insecticide or a product. It acts similarly to an insecticide but the results may vary and re-application might be needed compared to the actual use of an insecticide.


Aphids can invade roses in high numbers if left unattended. These bugs can eat their leaves, flowers, and roots as larvae. Aphids also lay eggs right next to roses which tend to overwinter in the ground and only emerge in the spring.

You can remove aphids by hand when they first appear on rose bushes. Solutions such as dishwasher liquid, insecticidal soap, vinegar, or neem oil are also recommended for healthy roses.

Covering a large number of roses when these flowers are grown commercially might also imply other defensive techniques suitable for large-scale bug control. Encouraging predatory species is recommended in this case. Using ladybugs that eat aphids is among the top strategies for rose plantations.

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