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Virus killing Okla. flower gardens

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Roses are a popular choice for many gardeners to brighten a space with beautiful flowers that typically produce year after year.

However, many who love the plant have noticed in recent years a strange mutation in their plants, extra thorns and red-colored leaves and stems.

There's an old saying, "Life is a rose, beware of the thorns," and with many roses in our state, it's more than a thorn you now need to watch out for.

A virus called Rose Rosette has hit Oklahoma.

Ray Ridlen with the OSU Extension said, "It's been thought to be a lot of things over the years."

Signs of the virus: reddening of the stems, excessive thorniness and rosetting, or excessive grouping of branches.

Ridlen said, "Instead of having one branch that will come out here, another one here, you might have 10 branches coming out all within the same one inch."

Rose Rosette was just identified as a virus last year even though it has technically been around since the 1940s.

Ridlen said in 2011 Will Rogers Park had to remove more than 300 rose bushes because of the virus.

In a place with so many roses, the virus spreads easily.

Ridlen said, "It's spread by a very small mite that can blow in the wind."

Once infected, it could take years for a plant to show any symptoms of the virus though the virus can still spread.

Ridlen said It can pass through pruning instruments also.

Unfortunately, there's no cure for the virus.

Ridlen said, "We recommend you remove them and if you're going back with roses. Remove the roots if possible."

Be careful planting new roses in the same place immediately after removing the infected flowers.

Planting so quickly could actually infect the new roses.