Thursday, March 6, 2008

Plant nurturing 101 -- Or: How to stop killing everything in your yard

Today’s Ledger-Enquirer includes my article about common plant diseases likely to plague your home landscape. So if you happen to be a person who likes to nurture plants alongside kids, you might want to check it out. If you’re not feeling very horticultural, you can just skip this post.

The Columbus Master Gardener’s will host a plant clinic from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Columbus Botanical Garden where you can get help with ailing plants from your yard or just learn the names of any mystery species that have somehow landed in your landscape. Details are below.

To see images of some of the diseases discussed but not pictured in the article and to learn more management tips go here.

And below are three common landscape diseases that didn’t quite make the print edition list:

Disease: Leaf Gall
Commonly affects:Azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel and camellia in the spring during wet, humid, cool weather.
Symptoms: Leaves are deformed, swollen and pitted and eventually white spores burst out of the leaf. The disease does not cause significant damage to affected plants.
Prevention/Tips: Before they release the spores, cut problem leaves out and remove them, along with any contaminated mulch from under the plant.

Disease: Botrytis Blight
Commonly affects: herbaceous plants likes pansies and geraniums
Symptoms: Masses of fuzzy, grayish-brown spores on thin black stalks develop on infected plant tissues under cool, moist, humid, cloudy conditions. The fungus commonly invades wounded or senescent tissue, such as fallen flower petals or other fresh plant residues. It can also invade healthy tissue in contact with infected residues.
Prevention/Tips: Deadhead plant material before fungus develops. Don’t over-water and don’t water at night.

Disease: Melting out caused by Curvularia
Commonly affects: Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede grass
Symptoms: There are purple and brown lesions on the leaf blade and the turf generally thins. The fungus Curvularia is the causal agent of "melting out" disease.
Prevention: Water in the early morning and don’t over water. Increase air circulation by cutting tree branches back. Don’t apply high rates of water-soluble nitrogen in the spring. Irrigate turf deeply and as infrequently as possible

Plant Clinic Info:
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (March 8)
Where: Columbus Botanical Garden, 3603Weems Road
Who: Hosted by the Columbus Master Gardeners
Cost: Free
Details: Bring plant specimens for identification or for help diagnosing or managing a sick plant. If you need a plant identified, bring a branch or division of the plant, not just one leaf. If your plant is sick, bring samples of affected areas enclosed in a plastic bag.
More information: Call 706-653-4200.

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