Silicon tested in search to defeat the dreaded rose black spot

The velvety petals and sweet scent of a rose make it a classic of the traditional English garden. But growers and gardeners have long cursed a disease that has ravaged the delicate beauty of their favorite flowers: black spot. Now scientists at the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are trying to find an answer to the problem.

They have borrowed prize blooms from the UK’s top rose grower, David Austin, and will inject them with the disease to see whether they can stop it in its tracks by varying the growing medium.

“Roses in RHS gardens, just like gardens all over the UK, commonly suffer from black spot caused by the fungus Diplocarpon rosae,” said Liz Beal, a senior plant pathologist at the RHS, who is running the study.

It is a serious disease, and symptoms include leaf yellowing, defoliation, and a lack of plant vigor. “A changing climate with more extreme weather leaves plants more vulnerable to attack. Diseases such as rose black spot occur during wet, warm summers. This may mean some gardens that can currently grow roses will struggle in the future,” she added.


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