How To Save A Wilted Rose Bush

Drooping, wilted looking roses are a sign that the plant is struggling.

In this article I’ll explain what makes roses wilt and some easy fixes to save your rose bush so it’ll be looking healthy and vibrant again.

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drooping rose bush

Always wear gloves and long sleeves when you’re working with rose bushes to avoid nasty scratches.

What causes roses to droop?

Transplant shock

A limp, droopy looking rose that has recently been transplanted could be suffering from transplant shock.

This is a condition where the roots can’t take up water and nutrients properly because they’ve been damaged during transplantation.

To avoid transplant shock it’s best to transplant roses while the plants are dormant.

Before planting your new rose bush in the garden, give it a thorough watering the day before.

This will give the plant time to store enough water to sustain it during the transplantation process.

Not enough water

Rose bushes need at least an inch (2.5 cm) of water each week and even more during very hot weather.

Once roses are established they only need to be watered once or twice a week.

Roses have deep roots so give them a thorough watering so the water can reach deep into the soil.

wilted rose bush


Rose bushes can also droop from too much water or soil with poor drainage.

You can tell if your rose bush is overwatered because the leaves will turn yellow and droop.

Waterlogged soil can lead to root rot and cause the plant to die so be careful not to overwater your rose plant.

Not enough sunlight

Roses grow best in full sun so that means at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day.

If you notice that your rose bush isn’t doing too well, you may need to move it to an area of the garden that receives more sunlight.

drooping rose

Pests & Diseases

Rose bushes can be affected by many different pests and diseases so it’s a good idea to check your plants regularly so you can take action before the plant becomes unhealthy.


Cankers are brown areas on the rose stems that are caused by a fungus called Coniothyrium spp.

If you see any cankers on the stems of your rose bush, cut the stem off immediately and treat the entire plant with a fungicide.

Remember to clean your pruning shears with disinfectant after using to avoid spreading the fungus.

Botyris blight

Botyris blight is another fungal infection that can cause rose bushes to wilt and die.

It’s grayish brown in color and covers the stems and leaves.

If your roses are affected by blight you’ll need to prune away any stems that are affected to prevent the spores spreading. Place them in a plastic bag before disposing.


Aphids are small, green insects that mostly affect the tips of new growth, leaves and flower buds.

If aphids are left untreated they can cause the plant to wilt and the flowers to become deformed.

To get rid of aphids on roses naturally you can shake the plant to remove them, spray them with a hose or introduce some lady beetles to eat the aphids.


Another annoying pest that can cause rose bushes to wilt is borers.

They bore a hole into the stem of the rose to create a nest for their young.

If you see a borer hole in one your rose stems, cut the stem below the hole and seal it with glue to stop the borer getting back in. [1]

So there are some of the causes of wilting rose plants.

Once you know what is causing your rose bush to wilt you can effectively treat it.


Have you saved a wilted rose bush in your garden? Let me know in the comments below.

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Kelly Martin

Hi, I'm Kelly Martin, a landscape gardener and designer with over 10 years experience. I have a passion for small space gardening and I love designing and creating beautiful outdoor spaces that maximize the potential of small urban gardens. Read more

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Demity Baughman

    Should I cut back a newly planted climbing rose bush that is starting to look dead?

    1. Kelly Martin

      Hi Demity, yes it’s a good idea to cut back any stems that are unhealthy looking to save the rose.

  2. Nancy Ziemann

    I have a new 2 month old rose tree one is doing great the other is dying. If I over watered what can we do to bring it back? It did start a sprout at bottom of the tree

  3. Roberta

    My Gertrude Jekyll rose has had to much water and the flowers are dropping. Is there a fix? Thank you in advance

  4. Susanna Lauster

    My rose bush has been planted for a month but has started to wilt. It was doing good like the others but now not so much. It has lots of buds, no aphids. How can I save it?

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