Brian Walker’s - Rose Spray Program


As a now elderly third generation rose grower with two fourth generation rose growing daughters, Felicity and Kate, a question we are regularly asked is “what spray should I use”. Some say they cannot be bothered growing roses because of the need to spray. However, there are only a few plants which don’t get attacked by one thing or another. The Indian Bead Tree (Melia azedarach) is one I know of but it has its own inbuilt insecticide (Neem Oil). In general, veges need more sprays than roses. 

Roses are up with the best value plants for garden colour and cut flowers. Guys, try pinching a rose with a nice stem from someone’s garden, take it home to the love of your life, then watch their response. Roses are not only beautiful, they are also delectable (rose hip syrup) just ask any browsing cattle, sheep, deer, possum etc.

The latest roses are being bred for disease resistance but “just as it is for us humans” they are still vulnerable to attack by pests and some fungal and bacterial diseases.

Rose Pests

Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust, Downy Mildew

Aphids, Mites, Scale, Caterpillars

These are the main enemy who want to feed on your roses. But you have superior weaponry and can wreck them havoc. Aphids and caterpillars are commonly recognisable. Holes in flowers and leaves give away the caterpillars. As aphids en masse, and love to sit at the top of the soft growing rose tip to suck the sap they are also easy to see. 

Mite: I recommend that you avoid pyrethrins as they kill beneficial insects who feast on problem mite. That’s why many roses drop their leaves in January/February. It is thousands of mite. The underside of the leaves look as if they are covered in dust. Many assume it is a lack of water but a look through a magnifying glass will show swarms of tiny mites and webs. They literally suck the plant dry.

Scale: Scale show up in autumn and winter with the main bush stems appearing to be covered by tiny droplets of white paint. They also suck the energy and sap from your rose and smother your citrus. Also squashing little brown raised blisters on the stems and leaves of citrus your fingers will be covered with gory orangey “I suppose” scale entrails. Black molds develop on leaves and stems as the molds feed on the scale excrement. This encourages many to declare war. Survival in the ecological system becomes primal and personal.

Rose Sprays

Bravo, Saprol, Taratek, Manzate

Neem Oil, Spraying Oil, Lime Sulphur, Confidor: further organic caterpillar sprays are easily obtained

Caution: Only purchase from a legitimate seller and strictly adhere to the directions for that spray. Ensure the spray combinations are compatible as their formulations may change.

As Autumn in Auckland is differently timed to Autumn in Invercargill I will simply break the spray schedule into four quarters: Autumn: Winter: Spring: Summer.


This is clean up time. Say a pest has five breeding cycles during the later summer growing period. Start with 1x1=2: 2x2=4: 4x4=8: 8x8=64: 64x64=4096: 4096x4096=16,777! This is from only one pest. Imagine the result if these pests are not cleaned up and many are left.

First Spray: Spraying oil and copper.

Make sure full cover is achieved and spray runs  off leaves and stems as scale often sits in cracks in the bark.

This organic combo substantially smothers overwintering mite eggs with the copper cleaning up various fungal and bacterial pests.


First Spray (Full dormancy): Lime Sulphur.

This organic spray cleans up, scale, fugal pathogens, etc, and kills lichens which attach to old roses.

Second Spray (Bud movement): Oil and copper. 


First Spray (When roses have broken into growth): Summer rate of copper.

Second Spray (When roses have made about 15cm of new growth): Saprol, manzate, and Confidor.

Manzate is a popular organic spray which acts against many fungal diseases. It is added as it acts to avoid disease resistance from the use of the other spray.

Third Spray (When the rose flower buds are forming): Bravo and Confidor.

Fourth Spray (When roses are full flush and flowering): Saprol and a mite spray.

In early to mid-November the first generation of mite has hatched and is vulnerable. You can deliver them a mighty blow. Ask at your retailer for a specific mite spray.            


First Spray (When roses are flushing for a second flowering around Christmas): Taratek and Neem oil

Second Spray (Three-four weeks later): Saprol and Manzate and an organic caterpillar spray

Third Spray (late summer): Copper at summer spray rate.

You can increase the spray intervals in wet weather and decrease in dry. It is best to spray before rain so keep and eye on met service. This stops disease proliferation in the damp conditions it favours.

You can do your veggies at the same time but adhere to the harvest waiting period.

You too can have the perfect rose for the perfect partner!


Below are links to our main rose collections available:

Rose Climbers                    Rose Ramblers
Rose Floribundas               Rose Hybrid Teas 
Rose Shrub Old Fashion    Austin English Roses