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In a time when we all seek advice from experts, it is not only important to know what plants you have but also to understand the nomenclature of symptoms caused by insect and disease problems.
“I’ve got this thing on my whatcha-ma-call-it” won’t get you very far with a Google search or in person. We need to know how to describe the “things” that we find on our plant material so a proper diagnosis and treatment can follow.
There are several different scenarios that can threaten our garden landscape. Non-living, non-infectious diseases or “disorders” are linked to environmental circumstances. A late-spring freeze, flood or drought conditions or excessive heat are all factors in causing non-infectious disorders that effect plant material adversely. These types of disorders can lead to infectious disease or insect infestation.
Plant pathogens must be able to “enter” the plant, and non-living diseases often open the plant up to living diseases. This is why I have reiterated the importance of pruning away dead, diseased or injured wood, especially in trees. Do not make it easier for infectious diseases to live off your landscape plants.
Living or infectious diseases involve parasitic plants, bacteria, fungi, viruses or nematodes. For example, white pine decline and white pine root decline (take note of the difference).
White pine decline is a non-living, non-infectious disorder caused by environmental circumstances that weaken the tree and cause eventual death. On the other hand, white pine root decline is a living, infectious disease caused by nematodes in the soil that slowly attack the root system.
You will notice a white film at the base of the pine’s trunk when it is suffering from white pine root decline. In one circumstance you could replace the diseased white pine, however, in the latter circumstance the soil is infected, so it is likely that a second white pine in the same location would see the same outcome: the same gradual decline and eventual death of the tree.
Plant disease and pest diagnosticians at Purdue University define the following common symptoms that plague our landscape plants. Recognizing these as symptoms of a greater problem will helps us stop the spread of infectious diseases and treat our plants in a more timely fashion:
As the various and sometimes inevitable plant problems present themselves during the new year, these terms should help us describe, determine and treat what crosses our garden paths.
Check out gardening columnist Jeneen Wiche’s work at www.SwallowRailFarm.com. You can find her columns also at www.SentinelNews.com/agriculture. She answers questions once a month in SentinelNewsPlus. To submit a question, send an E-mail to email@example.com type “Sentinel-News” in the subject field.