Variegated foliage in roses is not a good thing. While yellow and green patterning of leaf tissue can indicate the presence of a fungal disease, sometimes it can also signal that a virus condition is at work. The viral disease commonly known as “Rose Mosaic” is a mix of infections of different viruses that cause squiggly lines, ring spots, mottled leaves and mosaic-type patterning on the leaf surface. Roses infected with rose mosaic may produce fewer blooms on shorter stems. The viruses that cause rose mosaic are disseminated through propagation of infected plants and are not spread by pruning or by mite or insects.
Inspect plants for these type symptoms at the time of purchase and do not bring a symptomatic plant home. Usually rose mosaic does not spread to other roses in the garden, according to Drs. Alan Windham and Dr. Mark Windham.
In all my years helping customers at rose nurseries I have only seen symptoms of rose mosaic on one plant. That said, so far this year I have received a number of photos from gardeners having plants containing classic mosaic-type symptoms. Since these symptoms can take on a number of appearances, we share the most common with you.
Photos courtesy of Susannah da Silva (masthead), Dr. David Zlesak (top & bottom left), Baldo Villegas (top right), the National Clean Plant Network – Roses (bottom right)