What is Rose Balling?

Are your rosebuds withering before they open? If your rosebuds aren’t opening into lovely flowers, they’re most likely suffering from rose flower balling. Continue reading to know more about what’s causing this and how to take care of it.


What is Rose Balling, and how does it work?

Rose “balling” occurs when a rosebud form organically and begins to open, but the petals fuse when the new swelling bud is rained on, the outer petals are soaked, and then dries too quickly in the sun’s heat. This fusion prevents the petals from unfurling as they should, causing rosebuds to die before they open or fail to open at all. The petals’ fused ball eventually dies and falls off the rose shrub. The bud may appear to be diseased with mould or fungus if noticed by the gardener before it falls, as the buds can become sticky once they start dying.


Susceptibility to Roses:

Roses with large buds and a high petal count, such as Rosa “Montezuma” or the hybrid tea “Montezuma”, are the most prone to balling. Roses planted in congested conditions, such as mixed planting systems or devoted rose buds, are more susceptible to the disease. Buds that ball up can be found on shrubs that are not appropriately pruned and generate abundant packed branches and blooms.


Weather Conditions:

Balling can also affect garden peonies (Paeonia spp.) and common camellias (Camellia japonica). Soggy, humid seasons and/or steady rain soak delicate petals, leaving them wet and slimy until the sun dries them. The slimy dampness on the outer petals ties them together almost like glue. In addition, grey mould, also known as botrytis, is a fungal infection that commonly affects balled roses and can progress rapidly to the stems due to the humid climate.


Selection of Roses:

Balling is more common in some rose plants than in others. The greatest way to determine this is typically through personal experience. If balling occurs on buds of a specific plant regularly for multiple years despite adequate pruning and spacing, the rose should be replaced with a less sensitive type. Not all roses with numerous petals ball up. Single or semi-double rose types, such as Rosa “Peach Blossom” or the “Peach Blossom”, are excellent alternatives, especially in climates where rose balling is common.


Keeping Balling at Bay:

Good air circulation is the best defence against balling. Two cultural practices aid this. The first is sufficient space between rose bushes or between the other plants and roses. The second is correct pruning, which should be done every year in late winter or early spring, just before the plants emerge from their hibernation. Remove any canes that are dead or weak (smaller than the diameter of a pencil), as well as any that cross one other. The entire shrub should have an open, vase-like appearance, allowing air to circulate throughout the canes.

The treatment for rose balling is more of a preventative measure than anything else. Rose bushes can be thinned or pruned to allow for better airflow through and around them. Observe the spacing of the bushes closely while planting roses so that the foliage does not get too dense. Rose bushes are vulnerable to fungal infestations because of their thick, dense foliage. It can also increase the likelihood of rose balling. Botrytis blight is one example of a fungal infection that can result in this balling effect. When new buds are infected with this fungus, they stop growing and become covered in a fuzzy grey mould. As the fungal illness spreads and takes root, the stems below the bud usually become pale green, then brown. 

A fungicide called Mancozeb can help prevent botrytis blight, while other copper-based fungicides can also aid. The ideal procedures appear to be planting rose bushes at the proper spacing and trimming them regularly. If the balling condition is detected early enough, the external petals, which are the fused ones, can sometimes be delicately separated, allowing the bloom to continue to unfold usually. As with any problem with roses, the sooner we detect something, the faster and easier it is to solve the problem.


Let’s take a look at some of the FAQ’s related to handling rose plants:

  • Why do my roses perish so quickly after blooming?


When your roses’ blossoms die away at the end of their bloom period, the petals will fall off naturally. However, if you see your roses are falling petals before or shortly after they have fully blossomed, this could suggest a problem. Late April is when most hardy rose types blossom.

  • Why are the edges of my roses going brown?


The edges of the rose petals become brown when exposed to harsh weather. Though most rose kinds go dormant in the winter, certain roses in warmer climates develop buds before the first frost. When the temperature drops below freezing, the petals of these rosebuds become strained and turn brown.

  • Will rosebuds that have been clipped bloom?


Buds that are tightly closed may never open, and flowers bloomed fully may not endure long. The best-cut roses will be just starting to bloom. It won’t take long for them to finish the job inside. This will not affect your cut flowers, but you will not want to hurt the plant while cutting.

  • What is the best way to keep blooms from falling?


Temperatures below 60°F at night are a reason for a few blossoms dropping. Floating row coverings or plastic tunnels can be used to protect plants until the weather warms up. Plants should not be set out until the temperatures at night are warmer.



Roses are a symbol of beauty, and those who have a rose garden understand it very well. However, not everyone can develop a rose garden because it demands extra special care. 

Therefore, if you made a rose garden for yourself, remember that taking proper care of them will go a long way in enhancing the beauty of your garden for a very long time. Happy gardening! 

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