by Mario Villarino, DVM, Ph.D. Hopkins County Extension Agent
East Texas is widely known for using roses as focal points in our gardens. After all, roses can play a significant role of any landscape but particularly the Northeast Texas landscapes. Recently, a call from a professional landscaper pointed out a disease new to me in roses: crown galls in roses. This disease is caused by a tumor inducing bacterial that causes a growing gall at the end of the rose steams.
It starts as a spherical small light green swelling around the crown of the plant. This swelling also occurs below the soil line in the roots as well as on higher branches, depending on the infection site. After that the condition can worsen and more galls can develop secondary lesions growing unevenly eventually hardening into a dark, woody masses. The galls interfere with the plant ability to transport water and food supplies, producing other symptoms such as stunting, weakness, discoloration of leaves, dieback of shoots, increased susceptibility to winter injury or secondary infection leading to wilt and eventually in severe infections death, according to the extension publication “Crown Gall of Roses” written by Kevin Ong, Extension Plant Pathologist. According to Ong, there is no cure for the problem and control managements should include planting healthy plants, avoid injuries to the plants, avoid planting the rose in previously infected soils, cleaning tools before pruning, and removal of the complete plant if needed to avoid further spreading of the problem.