One of the greatest conundrums for any gardener is when plants get a disease. However, the most important thing you need to understand when dealing with plant disease prevention is something called the disease triangle.
Plant disease occurs when three things fall into place; a plant that may get sick, a pathogen that attacks the plant and environmental conditions that encourage the disease.
When one of these conditions is removed from the triangle, the disease would never occur, meaning that prevention is all about knocking out one thing from the triangle. Instead of waiting for a problem to pop up, consider defense as the best offense against disease. What follows are 4 ways you can eliminate one factor from the disease triangle.
Before Buying, Inspect the Plant
The easiest method for eliminating disease in your garden is by not adding a diseased plant to it in the first place. Introducing a diseased new plant to your garden is not the kind of bonus anybody wants. However, learning what a healthy plant ought to look like is one of the hardest things to learn.
The best way to get some information on what to look for is by collecting a few catalogs, magazines and books that show what a healthy plant looks like. Do not introduce into your garden a plant with insects, rotted stems or dead spots. These are all issues that can easily spread to your other healthy plants and can be difficult to get rid of once they are established.
Apart from inspecting the tops of plants, check the root quality too. While most people do not do this when they are in a garden center, it should be a common practice. Healthy roots should be firm; in most cases, they are white and spaced all over the root ball.
Watch Out for Bugs
Inspecting damage done to plants is much more than a cosmetic look over. Bacteria and viruses enter a plant through an opening, and damage done by bugs provides exactly that. In fact, some insects are carriers for viruses, spreading them from one plant to the next.
The most common disease carriers are aphids, and thrips are spreaders of impatiens necrotic spot virus, a serious problem affecting many commercial producers. Leafhoppers carry aster yellows disease that can affect a huge range of plants. Insect attacks are also another way of putting your plants under stress, making it less likely to fight off disease.
Plant Disease-Resistant Varieties
There are disease-resistant plant varieties that may get sick from a particular disease but instead of succumbing to it, they fight it off. For example, some tomatoes are marked “VFN resistant,” meaning that they are resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and Nematodes.
If you look for these codes on flowers, you will be discouraged because disease-resistance is not often identified on plant tags. However, this does not mean that most flower varieties are not disease-resistant. Many companies, like Seed Needs, offer plants that are resistant to black spot and powdery mildew.
Watering is good, but many diseases also need that water just as much as your plants; how you go about it can make a huge difference. Pathogens in the air and soil need water for moving, growing and reproducing. To avoid creating the perfect environment for these diseases, choose watering methods that reduce the moisture on the plant’s leaves.
Finally, to reduce the likelihood of disease in your garden, trim out old, damaged and crowded stalks on plants that are at risk of developing powdery mildew. Rearranging or dividing the plants will also go a long way.