Plant Health Problems
See Perennials for a detailed discussion of problems that may occur and are common to most herbaceous ornamentals.
Diseases caused by Fungi:
Downy mildew, Plasmopora spp.
Downy mildews typically cause leaf spots with downy white or gray patches under the leaves. The downy growth results from the production of spores called sporangia which are wind-dispersed between plants. Disease is usually favored by cool wet weather.
Control may include cultural means of reducing humidity and leaf wetness. Control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut is mancozeb. Consult the label for dosage rates, safety precautions, and directions for use.
Gray mold, flower and leaf blight, Botrytis cinerea.
This fungus occurs everywhere and commonly infects senescing or damaged plant parts such as old flowers, causing a fuzzy gray mold. Spores are produced which are easily blown around. From these tissues the fungus moves into healthy stems and leaves, causing a damaging blight. Disease is favored by cool wet conditions and the presence of overripe fruit or old flower petals.
Sanitation is the most important means of control. Remove dead flowers before gray mold develops. If disease has moved into leaf or stem parts, control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut is thiophanate-methyl. Consult the label for dosage rates and safety precautions.
Leaf spots, Cercospora, Colletotrichum, Phyllosticta or Septoria spp.
Leaf spots are very common, typically sharply delimited necrotic areas on plant leaves caused by a wide variety of pathogenic species. Leaf spots usually are favored by wet conditions and may become important if a large number of lesions are present or if they start to coalesce.
Under those conditions, control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are thiophanate-methyl and sulfur. Consult the label for dosage rates and safety precautions.
Powdery mildew, Erysiphe or Sphaerotheca spp.
Powdery mildews are obligate plant parasites which grow vegetatively on the plant leaf surface, sending haustoria, structures which absorb food from the host, into epidermal cells. The white mildew seen on the leaf is a combination of vegetative mycelium and spores borne in chains on upright conidiophores. Wind-dispersed mildew spores can germinate without free water under high humidity conditions, and disease is often severe when conditions are humid but dry. Small black over-wintering structures called perithecia are often found in powdery mildew affected areas.
Control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are potassium bicarbonate, ultra fine oil, sulfur, triadimefon, or thiophanate-methyl fungicides. Consult the label for dosage rates, safety precautions, and directions for use.
Rust, Coleosporium or Puccinia spp.
The term rust refers to both the disease and pathogen causing the disease. Rust fungi are specialized obligate parasites which can cause disease on one (monoecious) or two (heteroecious) host species. Symptoms of rust infection include rust-colored spores or gelatinous horns in powdery pustules on leaves or stems. Surrounding tissue is discolored and yellowed, and plants are often stunted.
Control of heteroecious rusts may be aided by removal of the alternate host, but for most perennials, control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are sulfur and mancozeb. Consult the label for dosage rates, safety precautions, and directions for use.
Wilts, Verticillium spp.
These pathogens infect the vascular or water-conducting tissues of plants, and cause wilt symptoms by impairing water flow. As a result, symptomatic plants may flag or wilt on one side of the plant, leaves may be twisted and yellow on one side, turn brown and hang down prior to drying up. Overall, the plant exhibits drought symptoms despite adequate soil moisture. If the stem is cut open near the base, the vascular tissues are typically brown or discolored.
Wilt control involves removal of infected plants and associated roots and soil. The pathogens survive in soil and plant debris for long times, so disposal of plants and soil without spread is important.
Black vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus.
The larvae of this weevil often injure ornamental plants by feeding on the roots. The grubs devour the small roots and tunnel inside the crown of coral bells, weakening the plants. Leaf notching by adults can also be unsightly. The 1/2" long adult weevil is black, with a beaded appearance to the thorax and scattered spots of yellow hairs on the wing covers. Only females are known, and the adults are flightless. They feed nocturnally, notching the margins of the foliage. The legless grub is white with a brown head and is curved like grubs of other weevils. Adults and large larvae overwinter, emerging from May - July. The adults have to feed for 3-4 weeks before being able to lay eggs. Treating the soil with insect pathogenic nematodes may control the larvae, and should be the first line of defense against this pest in landscape plantings. Acephate and fluvalinate are among the compounds registered for control of this pest in Connecticut, and should be applied when there is adults feeding and before they start laying eggs. The usual timing for these foliar sprays is during May, June and July at three week intervals. Insecticide resistance is very common; be aware that adults may appear to be dead following contact with fluvalinate, but may recover from poisoning within a few days. Consult the label for dosage rates and safety precautions..
For other insect pests, See Perennials.