Treating Roses With Witch's Broom Disease

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
October 2, 2017

Rose Witches Broom - Dark Desire Witches BroomOne disease which affects roses is called Rose rosette. The common name for this disease is 'Witches Broom'. It is caused by a virus which is spread by a very small, eriophyid mite. According to, 'Plants infected with the Rose rosette virus cannot be cured. These infected plants should be removed. If diseased plants are left in the landscape they will most likely die in a couple of years, all the while allowing the virus to spread to other nearby roses'.Rose Witches Broom - Healthy Dark Desire Rose


Here is an account of my encounter with this disease:


I have several 'Dark Desire' rose bushes. On one, I had what I thought was a 'bud sport'. A bud sport is a genetic variation of one branch of a plant.

Bud sports can give rise to new varieties of roses. The Chicago Peace rose, for example, was not bred. It is a sport of the Peace rose. A Peace rose grown in Chicago showed genetic variations in one branch. That one branch was cultivated, creating a new rose variety. The variety was called 'Chicago Peace'.

The above picture is of a bloom on one of my healthy Dark Desire roses. At one point, I noticed a very different bloom on the same bush. That bloom is shown here.

Rose Witches Broom - Dark Desire Unusual bloom


Thinking I might have a bud sport, I sent a picture to my ag agent, asking for his input, (a sport could mean I could introduce a new variety of rose to the World, and quite possibly, be handsomely compensated).


My ag agent was very interested. He agreed it could well be a sport. He asked that I 'keep an eye on the oddity' and to let him know of any results.

I took a cutting from the 'odd' branch to root. If the rooted cutting produced the same odd bloom, and if successive cuttings from that cutting produced the same odd bloom, (and did not revert back to the original Dark Desire), it could be said I did indeed have a sport; in fact, a new rose.

To my dismay, the cutting did not root. Not only that, the plant from which it was taken, along with two others, began to show signs of deterioration. I isolated these three plants from the others and watched them closely.

Within 2-3 weeks, it was obvious there was something seriously wrong with these three bushes. The leaves were very distorted. I took pictures of the plants, Googled them on Google Images. I confirmed my plants were infected with the Rose rosette virus.


Rose Witches Broom - Dark Desire Infected Rose


Unfortunately, what I thought might have been a sport, was a malformed bloom caused by the Rose rosette virus. There goes my recognition in the rose world for introducing a new rose variety, and there goes all the royalties for doing same.

Here is a picture showing how far the disease has progressed. It is obvious just how the disease came by its common name, 'Witches Broom'.

Rose Witches Broom - Dark Desire Witches Broom


And finally, here is a close up of the damage done by the Rose rosette virus.

Rose Witches Broom - Close Up Rose Rosette Damage


If you should see the slightest indication of this disease, you should immediately isolate the suspect bush, less it infect other plants. If infected, the plant should be destroyed.


While there is no cure for this disease, there are preventive measures which can be taken. They can be found at several sites on the Internet. The famous Knock Out rose series was thought to be immune to Rose rosette. It since has been found on this rose and is spreading.

All is fair in love and war and rose growing. I've learned a lot from this little episode. I'm not upset. I still have several healthy Dark Desire rose bushes. I now know they are not tea roses with a floribunda habit, but a grandiflora rose. I don't like this form and may decide to give them all away.

Well, maybe not this one.

Rose Witches Broom - Dark Desire Rose with wine effect


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3 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
September 28, 2017

Many of you are growing this plant, though maybe not this particular variety.
A tuppence to the first to correctly answer this question!


What Is This Plant? narrow leafed green foliage plant


Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
September 29, 20170 found this helpful

Is that a weed? Swinecress, perhaps? I want my two pence!!!!


Silver Post Medal for All Time! 433 Posts
September 30, 20170 found this helpful

It looks like a spider plant.


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
October 2, 20170 found this helpful

An in depth, correct, and possibly boring answer to this question can be found here:


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 131 Feedbacks
October 8, 20170 found this helpful

Hello !
Catherine had not read the post yet and is now absolutely frightened by this horrible disease which luckily has not yet appeared on this side of the pond! I will keep my eye open! My very dear RHS Royal Horticulture Society confirms: "present in Canada, USA, and India. Not present in the UK" and I hope not yet present in Europe!


Thanks for this information!


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
December 10, 20170 found this helpful

Ha Ha! Thanks!

Answer this Question

February 9, 2009

Has anyone ever heard of Witch's Broom Disease? My rose bushes have this, and I don't know how to get rid of it or how to prevent it. Any help would be great. Thanks.

By Chris from Clinton, MO


February 18, 20090 found this helpful

Please tell your friend that what I have discovered is that there is no cure for it. To get rid of it, prune it away thusly:

Wait for a day when it is dry and no chance of rain for 24 or more hours. Prune about 6" inches below the mass. Immediately dip the shears into a 10% bleach mixture to clean the shears.


Or, alcohol may be used in a 10% solution. This will help keep the disease from spreading.

What I did was type witches broom into my search engine and read until I was satisfied. If this is the disease her plants have, she may be able to decide if it is with the photo's shown. Hope this helps.

September 29, 20230 found this helpful

Rose rosette is incurable, even with pruning

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