Aphids can increase their population at an incredible rate. You notice a rose bush with a few aphids on it and think “I must do something about those” and then forget about it. When you check back in a few days, what was only a few has turned into thousands, literally.
This is something it pays to keep on top of. Aphids can sap the strength of your plants (they are certainly not confined to just roses), they attract ants, and the overall vigor of the plant will suffer. Luckily, they are easily controlled, and better still, you can do it with all natural remedies rather than using chemical sprays.
Sorry, there really is no prevention. If you grow plants, then sooner or later you will get aphids, that is just a fact of life. They are attracted in particular to new soft growth. It is more a case of keeping them in check, and dealing with them before they become an overwhelming problem.
However, if you attract the aphids natural predators to your garden (the ladybird or ladybug, and the lacewing), then hopefully they will keep the aphid numbers under control. That is one reason I prefer to avoid chemical sprays and try to let nature take its course in my garden. Sprays can often kill the good bugs as well as the bad ones.
Treatment: Natural Remedies
I am always looking for ways to deal with problems in the garden using natural solutions rather than using chemicals. And with aphids, natural is as good as, if not better than any sprays you buy at the local garden center.
Hose Them Off??
I often see this offered as a way to control aphids, but I really do not like this method. For one thing, you need to use enough force that you can damage new buds. But my main concern is that this goes against the advice of not to water the foliage of roses, due to fungal diseases. Things like blackspot and rust are spread by splashing water… so I advise against using a high pressure hose to remove aphids. It may well work, but I prefer not to risk spreading fungal diseases.
Use Water and Dishwashing Detergent
This is the first step in getting them under control. Fill a hand sprayer with water and add a small squirt of biodegradable dish washing soap. Then go out and spray your roses with the solution. I find twice daily works for me, morning and evening. This is better than using a plain water jet as the spray won’t splash up dirt and fungi bearing soil from the ground. After a few days when you see a reduction in the aphid numbers, it’s time to use the next step… garlic water.
Use Garlic to Keep Aphids Away
Once you have reduced the aphid population, use garlic water to make the plants unattractive to new ones that might fly in. Just crush a few cloves of garlic into a spray bottle of warm water, and coat the leaves and stems of the roses thoroughly. Aphids hate the smell and taste of garlic. Apply every few days.