Virus-free roses are far superior to virused roses for many reasons
The “Ugly Word” that most commercial rose growers don’t want to mention. We fear that unless the virus problem is addressed we will continue to see an increase of this very undesirable problem. The main reason the budded roses have virus is that the growers of budded roses take all their cuttings and budwood from the current crop in the field and so the virus is spread from one crop to the next, mainly through the rootstock. We observed a high percentage of rose virus in budded roses grown in California.
When we began to consider selling Old Garden Roses and conducted research of the market, the complaint we heard most often was concerning virus. Rosarians reported that though a plant might do well enough the first year or two, the disease reduces the vigor and eventually leads to the decline of the bush and weakens it so that the plant will not survive through a cold winter. Rose virus also reduces the number of blooms a rosebush will produce per year by as much as 20 percent versus a non-virused bush. The yellow streaking of the leaves, or mosaic (not the normal yellowing that some rose leaves sometimes show), may be so obscure that only the trained eye can see it, or may be so pronounced that you can observe it from distance.
We carry on a stringent anti-rose virus policy; working with Malcolm Manners of Florida Southern College, and the University of California at Davis in programs to remove virus from roses and to certify varieties virus-free.
Rose virus is not a problem in roses originating and grown in Europe as all their roses are budded on rootstock grown from seeds which are virus-free. Almost every variety of rose that we sell has been imported from Europe to ensure virus-free stock for our customers. The exception being varieties that originated in the U.S. which we have been able to obtain (virus indexed) virus-free from Florida Southern College and the University of California at Davis. There is no doubt that the majority of roses sold in America today are infected with rose virus. Some are concerned and are working to obtain virus-free stock while others don’t seem to bother. It is inexcusable for a rose nursery today to breed a new rose variety, then bud it onto virused root stock and market it as we have seen done.