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North Texas At Epicenter Of Rose-Killing Disease

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - North Texas is at the epicenter of a rose-killing disease, and the Fort Worth Botanic Garden is grateful they have any roses at all the Valentine's Day after they had to destroy every rose bush.

The rose bushes were infected and had to be pulled out.

The same was true at the Dallas Arboretum, in cities like Southlake and in gardens across North Texas.

"This is a rose garden," said Senior Horticulturalist Steve Huddleston as he looked out at the terraced landscaping void of blooming roses. "We have a sign up there that says rose garden. And this is a historic rose garden because it's on the National Register of Historic places."

But the rose garden has had no roses since 2015.

Mites blew in carrying a disease called Rose Rosette devastating every rose bush on the garden.

"It alters the growth habits and form of the rose," said Huddleston. "It results in a phenomena called witch's broom at the end of the branches, shortened twisted they're all close together like a broom. There's obvious red growth, red leaves in the foliage and you'll also see excessive thorniness."

There is no treating the bush. More than 1,500 rose bushes had to be ripped from the ground and destroyed.

"So, things were not coming up roses," said Huddleston. "Well, they were coming up roses. They ALL had to come up!"

North Texas became the epicenter of Rose Rosette Disease nationally as landscapers clamored to plant new, hardy types of roses.

"Everybody got on the bandwagon and planted them," explained Huddleston. "At entrances to neighborhoods, and commercial landscapes, home landscape. They were all over town. So, the mites had a field day!"

After waiting months to make sure no roots survived, the botanic garden finally has rose bushes again and has taken the time to remodel the classic garden adding new trees and spacing the rose bushes further apart to prevent mites from crawling from one bush to another in case of another infection.

But the mites can still be blown from one place to another by the wind.

So, they're telling the public to keep an eye on their roses, or the rose garden may suffer again.

"Because if we get rid of the rose bushes we get rid of the mites," said Huddleston. "And if people hang on to their diseased rosebushes, those mites will blow right back into the rose garden or infect somebody else's roses."

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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