Learn how-to identify common plant diseases. And get prevention and disposal tips from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.
How to Identify Garden Plant Diseases
Identification, Prevention, and Disposal
Gardening can be a true pleasure. It gets you outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, but it isn’t always easy. Whether you choose to grow fruit, flowers or a little bit of both in a large vegetable plot, you’re dependent on the weather and soil conditions for a large part of your success. Even if you get all the rain you need and avoid ill-timed frosts and freezes, your garden can fall subject to insect damage and plant diseases.
Luckily, identifying plant diseases is easier than ever with the help of the internet. Early identification and treatment are the best way to save your plants from imminent disaster. Check out these tips for preventing plant diseases and treating the most common sources of distress for gardeners.
Basic Prevention Methods
Strong plants are less likely to succumb to disease, so your prevention plan should start from the moment you plant the seeds. Choose plant varieties that are disease resistant and well suited for your growing area. For example, if you live in a dry area, choose drought-hardy varieties. Consider selecting native plants that will work best in your soil and climate.
Once your seeds have been sown and transplants set out, make sure your plants receive adequate water and fertilizer throughout the growing season to keep them strong and healthy. Some plants are light feeders while others need extra nutrients, so do a little research to know how to care for each of your plants. Make sure to prevent invasive species from getting into your garden.
Common Plant Diseases
If your plants are wilting or discolored despite your best efforts, you might be dealing with an infection. Check your plants for signs of insect damage first — you’ll usually be able to see bugs, eggs or holes in the leaves. Once you’ve ruled out the creepy-crawlies, compare your plant’s issues to these common diseases to diagnose the problem:
- Powdery Mildew: This fungal infection covers plant leaves with a white, powdery substance. It’s common in periods of high humidity when plants are stressed by drought. Keep plants watered and prune to improve airflow.
- Black Spot: The bane of rose gardeners everywhere, black spot is another fungal infection that strikes leaves subjected to too much moisture. Water roses directly at ground level and remove infected leaves to prevent its spread.
- Tomato Blight: This fast-spreading disease begins as dark brown spots on the leaves of tomato and potato vines. The fungus overwinters in the soil and spreads across plants from the ground up, causing it to lose leaves and eventually die. Remove infected plants to prevent its spread.
- White Mold: This fungus grows in wet conditions and looks like a cottony patch on your plants blossoms or leaves. Use drip irrigation instead of overhead watering to keep leaves dry, and give plants plenty of space to increase airflow and keep white mold at bay.
Disposing of Diseased Plants
After carefully tending your garden all year, I know how painful it can be to have to say goodbye to once promising plants. Pruning off a portion of your favorite plants — or worse, uprooting them entirely — is never ideal. Disease prevention often requires gardeners to make hard choices to prevent infections from taking over your entire garden.
There are a few methods you can use when removing diseased plants from your garden; they include composting or burning. Many choose to avoid composting because if the diseased or invasive plant has ripe seeds, because in the right conditions, the plant could still germinate. If you choose to burn these plants, a wood grinder can make quick work of large of diseased plants, bush branches, or tree parts, making them easier to fit into your fire pit or burn pile.
In the end, it’s better to lose one plant than all of them. Each time you deal with a new disease or pest, you have the opportunity to do some research and learn more about your garden. Soon you’ll be armed with a wealth of experience and experimentation that leads you to the perfect, thriving garden for your particular microclimate.
Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!
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