Red Leaves on Roses (Reasons + Solutions + Preventions)

Roses are red, violets are blue, 

but red leaves on roses…is it normal too?

Generally, your rose bush leaves turning red is a sign of their growth pattern. However, it’s not always like that. 

If you notice red leaves, then it might be a warning to some bigger problems. Moreover, something worse might happen in the future. 

No worries. We’re here to help you with this issue. We’ll help you understand if it’s normal or not.

red leaves on roses

There could be 4 reasons behind red spots on rose leaves. But only one of those reasons is okay. Now, you might think your roses are healthy; however, a virus could infect them. 

Here’s the thing- 

In this piece, we’ll enlighten you about the reasons behind those red leaves. Moreover, we’ll get a deeper look into rose bushes disease and the ways you can control them in your garden. 

Red Bushes Are Normal with Red Leaves?

We don’t want to confuse you about diseases in your bush. Because it’s completely normal to have red leaves on rose bushes.

You see, Anthocyanin causes the new growth of roses. What’s that you ask? Well, that’s a pigment that turns the stems and leaves into red color. 

However, the foliage of roses starts to have a deep red to a slight purplish type of color. As a result, the new growth forms the buds and we get future blossoms. Now, this redness is fresh and healthy. 

But what’ll happen next?

Well, the foliage will change over time in your beautiful red rose bush. To be more specific, it’ll change into a light greenish color pretty soon. 

On the other hand, in some roses, the color might shift into the outer edges of the leaves. That seems more like burnt leaves. But, ultimately, it’s normal for the leaves to look like this. 

When Will Leaves Show Problematic Symptoms?

At the time of weather change, you’ll notice rose plant leaves turning red. Your rose leaves usually change in the fall or late spring. 

So, what’s the deal here? 

You see, this change gives your leaf a bit of yellow or red coloring. Besides, the growth pattern takes a stop. This is like a signal to some bigger rose leaf problems

Moreover, you’ll notice that the foliage looks distorted and a bit crinkled. And, at one point, your rose leaves outline will look elongated and your leaves will be mottled with red color. 

The Reasons for This Change

Here are a few reasons why you might be noticing your rose leaf turning red.

  1.  The rose rosette disease attacked your bush.
  2.  Heavy frosting can cause rose bush leaves turning red.
  3.  Using too much herbicide can also cause them to enter the foliage and damage them.

So, let’s dive deep into each of them.

Rose Rosette Disease

Rose rosette virus aka RRV causes the rose rosette disease. To be more specific, it’s a viral rose plant disease. The virus causes red leaves and red stems on rose bush.

So, how does it enter your garden and how does it impact the plants?

Reasons of Rose Rosette

Most of the time an infected spider mite or eriophyid mite carries the Rose Rosette Disease. You see, eriophyid mites are microscopic creatures. 

Basically, it’s so light that the wind can move it anywhere.

And do you know the worst part? Well, the mites can also transfer it to other plants of your garden because of their easy movement in the air. 

Symptoms of Rose Rosette

It’s super hard to realize if your red leaves on rose bush is normal or not. If your bushes have RRV then the symptoms that you’ll see are:

  • A red pigmentation of the underside of leaf veins.
  • A sharply increased growth of vegetative shoots, which will be more succulent than normal and colored in various shades of red.
  • Deformed, crinkled, and brittle leaves with yellow mosaics and red pigmentation.
  • Small leaves and shrunk petioles along with short and intensely red shoots on roses.
  • Plant gets damaged in slightly cold weather.
  • Thickened roses with a rapid increase of thrones.
  •  Rose stems turning red and getting vulnerable to natural damages.

Diagnosis of Rose Rosette Disease

A better way to diagnose rose rosette vs new growth is through some methods like-

  • Chemical Control Methods
  • Biological Control Methods

Solution + Prevention

Rose rosette disease prevention is the best cure for your roses. Because if this disease affects your garden once, it can be deadly for all your plants.

So, for precautionary measures, you can take a lot of steps so that Rose Rosette doesn’t attack your garden. 

Now, let’s look at the steps-

  • Use miticides or insecticidal soaps.
  • Remove nearby wild plants. Those might bring RRV to your roses.
  • Use a good pruner to get rid of infected red rose leaves
  • Burry the leaves.
  • Remove the affected plant’s root. Because they might also carry the virus to other plants.
  • Don’t leave infected plants uprooted. Or else, you’ll soon face more rose bush with red leaves in your garden.
  • Disinfect your pruner. RRV can spread through it too.

Heavy Frosting

You’re probably here because you’re sure that your plant doesn’t have rose rosette. 

Now, if your green leaves start looking red or reddish-brown around the edges in late spring or fall, it’s possible they’ve been damaged by frost.

You see, frost sometimes shows up unexpectedly in the spring, or in the fall. 

Yet, repeated spring frosts could be a problem for, but in the fall, your bush probably goes dormant as the weather cools and loses its leaves until spring.

Reasons of Heavy Frosting

You’ll notice heavy frost red leaves in the winter. And because of these reasons, you’ll get rosebush leaves.

You leave your plants without any protection during the winter. So, they get a touch from jack frost and the cells start to freeze. This causes a cellular shift. Ultimately, your plant faces a permanent change in the tissue.

This is basically a frost bite for the plants.

Symptoms and Diagnostics of Heavy Frosting

Heavy frosting has only one symptom. The rest are sub symptoms. You’ll notice that your plants or leaves have totally frozen. As a sign, you’ll see red rose leaves.

Now, to be sure you can do this-

Cut out the frozen rose bark and see if it’s still fresh inside. If yes, then your roses still have a chance to survive. 

Solution + Prevention

If it’s fresh on the inside, then uproot the plant take it somewhere warm. However, to fully solve and prevent this problem, you’ll need some tools.

All these things for a rose plant might seem like a lot to you. But frosting can impact other plants of your garden too. So, think of this package as an overall investment against the cold winter days.

Now, about the steps-

You’ll just need to keep the plants moist and apply a light fertilizer. We love using the Light Fertilizer for its effectiveness.

Apply it according to instruction and with time the frost will go away.

Well, you need to keep your plants moist in the winter. That is the only way you can avoid heavy frosting. To do this bring all your plants under a tent and use humidifiers. 

For tents, we’ve been using a great tent. It gives good protection even in the Alaska winter. And for humidifiers try our ABCD humidifier. It’s specially designed for working inside a tent.

To help them even more bring in a small heater. The small heater is great to keep the insides of a small tent warm. The features in here are perfect for your condition.  However, keep track of the humidity level with a meter. The good meter is our top pick. It’s got all the top-notch features needed for indoor farming. 

Moreover, if you see any frozen part of the plant, without further delay take care of it. 

Or else, you might face permanent damage to your plant and lose your whole plant because of heavy frosting. 

Herbicide Injury

Your lovely rose leaves can turn red by your herbicides. Moreover, it might be hard to recognize that the damage is done by your herbicide or not.

So, what are the reasons behind it?

Reasons for Herbicide Injury

In most of the cases, you might face accidental herbicide injury. If you don’t use the right amount of herbicide for your plant, this injury might occur to your plants.

Also, if your herbicide doesn’t have the right materials for your plant, this might be the cause for your red leaves. So, try to get a good herbicide.

We use the good herbicide because it’s both effective and safe for rose bushes. 

Symptoms and diagnosis of Herbicide Injury

The symptoms of herbicide injury mostly depend on the type of herbicide you used on your rose bush. Here are some symptoms:

  • Twisted leaves
  • Cupped foliage
  • Narrower new leaves
  • Roots appearing on the surface
  • Red leaves
  • Yellow spots on leaves

Moreover, your plants will get really unhealthy and eventually die. However, to be sure of this, you’ll need a proper lab test.

Solution + Prevention

Herbicide injury needs your immediate attention. Here’s how you’re going to treat your plant:

  • See if your exposed plants have affected leaves. 
  • Prune those off as soon as possible.
  • Remember if you’ve applied herbicide recently. If yes, then pour water continuously on your plant. This’ll wash away some of the herbicide for you.
  • Take a syringe and push water into the plant.
  • Start immediate care for your plant if you want to save it in the future.

You can easily prevent this herbicide injury just with a routine application. Limit your application and amount and you’ll be fine to go.

Red Leaves on Knockout Roses

Knockout roses are very easy to grow, and they don’t require that much care. If you own one, you already know.

However, they’re pretty popular for being disease resistant. Still, they do need some frost protection. Because they are vulnerable in the winter. 

The best thing about them is that they are extremely heat tolerant. So, you don’t have to worry about your knockout roses in the summer.
Unfortunately, the downside is that they’re vulnerable to the rose rosette disease. It’s one of the most fatal knockout roses diseases.

However, when they first came out, it was hard to tell if they could defend themselves against RRV aka Rose Rosette Virus. 
You see, the foliage of a knockout rose is quite similar to the condition due to RRA. If you see such a condition, you might ask if your knockout rose is all right or not. The answer is that it might not be healthy at all.
So, if you own knockout roses, you should check if all the symptoms of the rose rosette disease appear or not.


Your rose leaves turning red is a natural phenomenon; however, you shouldn’t rely on nature always. By now, you should know a lot of things about red leaves on roses.

Reading this article, you’ll get the idea of the natural growth process of roses. And, the reasons for the sudden redness of roses.

You’ll also know the ways by which you can tackle Rose Rosette disease in your garden and control its spread.

Good Luck.


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