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Do ants eat roses?

fizzylizfizzyliz Posts: 390
edited July 2022 in Plants
Or protect like peonies? It was covered in ants before we went away. Before and after photos… 

If so, what can I do? 
And should I dead head both buds now?


  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,873
    Ants, do not eat roses but they do 'farm' aphids. They will transport them to the young growing stems where, once they start feeding on the plant sap, the aphids excrete a 'honeydew' that the ants love. Ants will fight off predators such as ladybirds who will eat the aphids.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • fizzylizfizzyliz Posts: 390
    @Ladybird4 ah ok thanks, so they’ve just naturally died off… the one bud had hardly opened and is terrible. Shame! Should I dead head? And where here do you cut it? 
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,358
    Yes, deadhead.

    The ants you have are probably not causing any real damage at this point, but they can build large nests in the roots which can go quite deep.   Ants in roots causes severe damage and the rose can deteriorate with poor blooms, and stunted growth.  They tunnel through the root system destroying feeder roots and creating air pockets.
    ..   This is usually an issue in very dry regions, such as mine, and I see this quite often. I must have lost at least 3 roses to it in recent years.. I try not to kill insects, so they get the upper hand and the rose is eventually removed by me.  It has to be dug up, cleaned of ants, and replanted elsewhere to survive..

    It's easy to tell if ants are nesting in the roots, just shake the rose and you will see a swarm of ants in a panic around the base, also soil will be pushed up around the lowest parts of the rose canes..  this can occur with both grafted roses and 'own root'..
    East Anglia, England
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,873
    When you dead head @fizzyliz go down the stem underneath the rose head you are removing until you meet the next leaf growing out from the stem. There will be a young bud in there ready to take over. Make a slanting cut to allow any water to run away from the join.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • fizzylizfizzyliz Posts: 390
    @Marlorena ah how fascinating! Thanks for that info… I’ll give a shake and see… I couldn’t see any at bottom before the beautiful rose head was just covered in them when it looked pretty!

    @Ladybird4 thats fantastic thank you so much! 

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,340
    fizzyliz, although many don’t bother, it’s worth rubbing off aphids if you see them to deter ants. As Marlorena says, ants building nests underground are a problem in dry regions, but also if you simply don’t water your rose enough - ants hate damp soil. A really good, deep soaking at the roots is usually enough to persuade them to move on. A couple of large cans poured slowly around the root zone should do the trick, then mulch around the base with some fresh compost to retain that moisture. Your rose will thank you for that anyway, so all good!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 22,668
    How long did you go away for? The roses may just have reached the end of their flowering time in the hot weather.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
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