Tomatoes Love Roses?

tomatoes love roses

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but could rose oil keep pests off your tomato plants? According to a recently published study, the answer is yes.

Researchers at the Tokyo University of Science treated potted tomato plants with 11 different essential oil extracts. Of those, rose oil caused the tomato plants to increase the activity of two genes involved in plant defense.

The tomato plants treated with rose oil also showed lower levels of leaf damage from moth caterpillars and mites. Moving out into the field, the researchers found that the pattern held, with rose oil-treated tomato plants suffering only half the pest damage of untreated plants.

Rose oil contains the active ingredient of citronella, which is widely used in insect repellents. The researchers found that the citronella in the rose oil directly repelled the moth caterpillars. It did not repel the mites, but it did attract another species of mite that preys on the pest mites.

The research team suggested that their findings could lead to large reductions in the use of synthetic pesticides in conventional farming, as well as providing another pest-management tool for organic operations.

The study was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Tag(s): pest management

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