Plant disease: it’s not the most glamorous of gardening topics, but it’s an issue that’s highly likely to have affected your garden at some point.
To be honest, in the past I’ve struggled to understand and recognise plant diseases beyond a very basic level. Yes, I could tell when a plant has suffered from under or over watering, and recognise leaf scorching from bright sun, but beyond that I was pretty much out of my depth!
I have noticed some unusual effects on the leaves of some of my plants over the years. In particular it seems to be roses in the garden, and courgettes, squashes and cucumbers at the allotment. And while I’ve known that something is wrong, I haven’t managed to work out what to do about it. That’s all changed this year. I’ve come across a product which basically deals with all the problems I’ve been noticing: Fungus Fighter Plus.
Common fungal plant diseases
If, like me, you’re no expert on fungal plant diseases, here’s a bit of background on what they are. Fungal diseases are the most common type of plant disease, and they can affect ornamental plants as well as edible crops. This visual guide from the Fungus Fighter Plus bottle helps you work out which disease your plant is affected by.
Leaf Spot looks like brown or black spots on leaves. Over time it can develop into larger blotches, and cause leaves to turn yellow and drop. Trees and shrubs are most commonly affected.
Black Spot is similar to leaf spot and very common on roses. It affects leaves and sometimes stems, with brownish-black spots that make leaves turn yellow then drop. The disease can survive overwinter and infect new growth the following year, and it thrives in warm, damp conditions.
Rust commonly affects leaves, and as the name suggests looks like rusty orange spots. Leaves may turn yellow and fall earlier than usual, and in severe cases the plant’s vigour will be affected. Rust is most common from mid-summer into autumn; it thrives when leaves are wet for long periods, so a wet summer makes this one more likely to strike.
Powdery Mildew affects leaves, stems and occasionally flowers and fruit. It looks like patches of white powder, and can cause the plant to become stunted or distorted and reduce it’s vigour. Powdery Mildew occurs from spring onwards and can infect plants in drier conditions than other fungal diseases, so it’s a common greenhouse problem.
Do you recognise any of these on your own plants? I’ve definitely noticed black spot on my miniature rose, and powdery mildew is a problem every year on my courgette, squash and cucumber plants. And now I understand what’s going on, hopefully I can tackle it!
With fungal plant diseases being so common, it’s pretty likely that you’ll see their effects in your own garden on some level. I think the most sensible way to deal with them is to do what you can to prevent them, and be ready to act fast when you notice any symptoms.
Preventing fungal plant diseases
There are a few things you can do to limit the invasion of fungal plant diseases. Try to avoid creating conditions where the leaves are constantly wet; water plants early in the day so that they can dry out, and aim to water at the base. It’s also a very good idea to remove all dead leaves and debris from around your plants before new growth starts in the spring, to limit the risk of repeated infection. In the greenhouse, try to water regularly to prevent plants going from soaking wet to very dry (automated watering systems are a great way to achieve this without lots of effort), and open doors and windows regularly to improve air circulation.
Treating fungal plant diseases
If you’re already seeing signs of fungal disease on your plants, it’s time to treat them. Fungus Fighter Plus is a quick and convenient way to deal with all major fungal diseases and can be used in the garden, conservatory and greenhouse.
Fungus Fighter Plus gets to work fast and protects for up to three weeks. It’s simple to use; you just shake the bottle well, then open the safety nozzle and spray the affected plant evenly until drips start to form at the tips of the leaves.
For ornamental plants, you can repeat treatment every 10-21 days as required, with a maximum of six times per year on roses and woody ornamental shrubs, and three times per year on bedding plants. I’ve already treated my sorry-looking rose, so hopefully it will perk up soon.
Fungus Fighter Plus is also suitable for treating powdery mildew on cucumber, courgette and squash plants, so it’s perfect for my allotment problems too. If you’re using it on these crops you can repeat treatment every 10-14 days as required, with a maximum of three times per year. Having really struggled to keep my cucumber plant alive last year thanks to mildew, I’m hoping it will make a real difference to this year’s crops.
I’m going to keep an eye on my affected plants, and treat them again with Fungus Fighter Plus if they need it. I’m also being careful with watering, and making sure I keep the greenhouse as well-ventilated as possible.
As with any gardening problem, knowing what’s going on with your plants gives you a much better chance of resolving the issue. I hope I’ve taken some of the guesswork out of plant diseases for you, so that next time you spot a problem you’re ready to tackle it. Have you got any tips for keeping your plants healthy and disease-free?
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