Keeping your Plants Disease-Free
There are many factors that can influence plant disease. We will be looking at some of these basic facts. While this article will not be covering all aspects of plant disease, we will be looking at some general information.
If plants are not cared for properly eg. in the case of overwatering, it can cause plant disease or the gardener may have used an infected tool that was not properly sterilized.
Also, it may be situations that are out of your control that trigger plant disease eg. rain is an environmental factor that is out of our control. It can cause a plant to get so much water that the soil becomes saturated or waterlogged.
Wherever standing water is, if it does not dry out in time but is allowed to remain for long periods of time along with warmth can cause fungus to develop in the soil. In turn, the fungus attack the roots of the plants.
Plant diseases are also caused by viruses, bacteria, and nematodes. These are pathogens that carry disease and can cause the death of the plant if action is not taken immediately. When treating plants for disease, one should make sure to treat all parts of the plant parts which include the leaves, the stems, and in some cases even the fruits.
The label is the law so before using any chemicals read and follow the directions. A lot of harm has come about not because the chemical was not the correct one but because of improper usage. This has caused more injury to plant and can also contaminate their fruit.
Types of treatments
Fungicides were made to combat plant fungus, Bactericide was made to combat plant bacteria and Nematicide was made to combat plant nematodes. The names of the groups are similar to help us remember which is for which.
So in this article, we will be looking at how to nurture our plants back to health. With the many products on the market, we can launch a successful counter-attack and experience victory.
Plant disease control
I remember many years ago in my employment as an interior plant technician, one of the plant arrangements that I had designed was a croton plant arrangement. After a few months that beautiful plant arrangement began to deteriorate.
When examining this plant arrangement, it became clear to me all of them had fungus because the pots they were in did not have any drain holes and because of this the plants were sitting in water for a long time.
So my solution was to simply change the soil. I did not use any fungicides, I just changed the soil to fresh dry soil.
I did not water the plants for about a week and a half. And guess what? That plant arrangement bounced back to good health. I was so proud of myself.
But there are cases where you may have to remove certain parts of the plant or even apply a fungicide to the soil to ensure the survival of that plant.
These chemicals work by inhibiting the growth of, or by killing the disease-causing pathogen.
Proper Identification of disease
Many times plants die because the problem was not diagnosed properly, and the plant was given the wrong treatment. Therefore it is good to have some knowledge when seeking to identify plant problems.
Plant disease signs
What are some of the signs and symptoms that your plant has contracted a disease?
- Discoloration of plant parts.
- Spots that appear on plants and continue to grow or spread.
- Rotten plant tissue.
- In some cases a slightly foul odor.
- Roots have a foul smell along with being mushy and soft.
- Leaves are far from normal looking.
- Fruits may be deformed with an off-color.
- Mold growth.
These are just a few signs to look for when seeking to identify plant disease.
Plant disease control
Methods of Control
- Proper cultural practice, for example, don’t overwater plants.
- If caring for plants that are container-grown, make sure that the container has drain holes.
- Always remember to sterilize tools after dealing with the infected plant.
- Treat plants that are infected separately.
- Depending on the extent of the disease, it is better to get rid of the plant rather than trying to treat it. Example disease has spread to more than 50% of the plant.
- Consider getting cultivars that are resistant or can tolerate infections.
- Eliminate weeds that serve as a breeding ground for fungi and viruses.
- Soil sterilization i.e. measure out the planting area, Followed by placing a large size plastic over the area, for best results wet the soil first then spread the plastic, this method is more effective when temperatures are 75 degrees or higher. The moist soil along with the plastic will cause the soil temperature to rise. When this happens weeds, soil insects, fungi, and whatever life form are present will die. Keep plastic in place for about 4 weeks then remove.
- Proper air circulation, always gives proper spacing to plants.
- Make proper pruning cuts.
- Know your plant’s watering requirements.
- Group plants together that have the same water requirements.
The final word
In order for plants to perform at their best, and give us the kind of harvest that we are looking for we must do our part to ensure that their requirements are met. Just like humans and animals, plants also need tender loving care.