What to do with sticky leaves

jumbojimmy(Australa)October 8, 2011

Two of my roses have sticky/shiny leaves on the top surface - I think this problem is caused by aphids, and they look kind of gross.

Is there another way to reduce the stickiness apart from hosing them because I don't want to waste water. We had a decent rain for the past few days, and the stickiness doesn't

seem to go away.

TIA

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seil zone 6b MI

Do you see aphids, Tia? If so you need to get rid of them first or the problem will continue. The only thing I can think of to do if you don't want to hose them off would be to wipe the leaves off one by one. Labor intensive but should do the trick. I would use a solution with a little dish soap in it to get the residue off.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 9:50AM
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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

If you want to spray, use insecticidal soap.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 10:37AM
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roseseek

Jimmy, that sticky surface is likely the sugars secreted by sucking insects such as aphids, mites and other sucking types. In damp conditions, it can form a black mold in it, called "sooty mold" as it looks like soot. Are there tree limbs or the foliage of other plants overhanging the roses? I've usually seen what you describe on plants which grow under some other foliage canopy and it more often indicates there are mites or other insects on the undersides of the overhanging foliage than on the roses themselves. That might not be your case, but in many years of dealing with other peoples' gardens, it's what I've encountered time after time.

If there is other foliage hanging over the roses, look on their undersides for sucking insects. Eliminate them, or the overhanging foliage, and you will usually eliminate the sticky droppings. Dissolving that sticky stuff requires water as it is primarily sugar and water, with a small percentage of other elements of the plant's sap. In very cool, damp conditions with no potential for extreme heat or extreme sun, I've used very weak solutions of Ivory Liquid in hose end sprayers with copious water to remove extreme deposits which have been there for weeks.

The use of anything is going to require water, whether it's plain water or Insecticidal soap. I'd think unless you need the soap to kill insects, you'd be better off not using it, but just rinsing it off with water. If it's only a little bit on a few plants, you can use a hand held sprayer to apply the water, loosen it with your fingers then spray it off. For larger, heavier areas, spraying it off with a hose to wash and rinse it is best.

I'd make sure you take care of any infestation on any plants hanging over your roses first. If there are tree leaves or branches from a hedge or other shrubs providing homes for insects on other plants so their "honey dew" falls on your roses, washing it off now will only allow it to be deposited again as long as conditions remain conducive for the insects to continue feeding and proliferating. If you see aphids on your roses and the sticky deposits are only where those aphids are, and if the temperatures are correct for using Insecticidal soap without heat damage, that would help eliminate the aphid situation for a while. Personally, I would still rinse off the sugar water before applying the Insecticidal soap because both together can make a very nasty deposit on the foliage. If your heat is coming, that combination can burn the foliage worse than just leaving the sticky on it. Watch for ants. They eat the honey dew and will "farm" the aphids for it. Kim

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 12:24PM
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jumbojimmy(Australa)

Thanks for the info. Definitely no tree branches or other plants overhanging my roses. But I do noticed a lot of aphids hiding underneath the leaves. Next weekend I will start using water to wipe each individual leaves and then apply an insecticide soap. Can I use any brand soap? Does it have to be an insecticide soap?
The leaves do look as if someone has poured honey onto them, definitely not a pleasant sight.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:56AM
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roseseek

We used Ivory Liquid to dislodge a very heavy, dried honey dew and sooty mold deposit on roses and citrus, then rinsed it VERY well. If yours isn't dried but still wet enough to dissolve with water, no soap is required. No, no other soap will replace Insecticidal Soap. "Grandma's Lye Soap", which everyone used for everything back in the "good old days", worked to kill insects because it contained lard. Now, you have to look for any soaps which still contain lard. That worked because the lard dried out the exoskeletons of the insects so they couldn't molt and grow. They strangle in their own skins. Insecticidal soap has "potassium salts of fatty acids" as its active ingredient, which is derived from lard. It dries out the skin, including yours, and can be damaging if you get it in your eyes, so be careful with it. If you feel you need to use soap to remove the sticky, use very little of the mildest stuff you can get, then rise it off well. Detergents can actually damage the cuticle (skin) of the rose leaves. If the sticky comes off with just water, so much the better. What we had to use the Ivory for it looked as if someone had sprayed tar pruning sealer on and it required more than just water and a bit of rubbing to remove. It had been occurring for quite a while in a humid situation which then turned quite hot, so it built up and baked on. Defoliating the plants wasn't an option because of the demands of the homeowner.

So, if it's fairly fresh and dissolves with water, just use water and rinse afterward. If there are insects you want to rid them of, Insecticidal soap is fine, unless your temps are going to be in the 80s or higher. Lard, and the potassium salts of fatty acids, are oils which can burn the foliage in high sun, high heat and water stress conditions. Your call. Kim

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 12:52PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

If you point the hose downwards you'll be watering the rose as well as washing it, which is not waste--or is it?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 7:15PM
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roseseek

Or, use a water wand pointed up to rinse off the aphids from the undersides then wash off the tops. All of that should also be watering. I'm glad you don't have any other foliage over hanging them. Trying to mitigate issues with honey dew from over hanging oak tree branches was a nightmare! Kim

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 1:21AM
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jumbojimmy(Australa)

It worked! I used insecticide soap yesterday and noticed less glossy appearance on the rose leaves. I did the hard way, I filled a bucket of water and then add a few drops of soap in the bucket and then I soaked a towel in and rinse it on the leaves thoroughly. As mentioned by Seil, I also used the towel to wipe the leaves (front and back). However, it is best to move the containers in the grass area and don't leave them on the concrete ground because you will end up with soap residue.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 3:39AM
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