The hot and humid weather in Fort Myers, Florida can unfortunately create incubator-like growing conditions for fungal plant infections. Of course, the last thing that you want is to see your property’s beloved plants succumb to a disease.

Let’s look at some of the most common plant diseases that we see in our region and talk about how to protect or treat your plants.

Root Rot

Root Rot is one of those conditions that doesn’t tend to show up until it’s too late. That’s because it’s occurring beneath the soil, where the problem goes undetected. Once plants start showing symptoms, it is sometimes too late. Signs may include yellowing foliage or stunted growth.

Since it is often impossible to save the plant, swift removal, including the roots is often the best course of action. If replanting in the area, it’s important to choose a plant that is resistant to this fungus as it can continue to live in the soil.

Leaf Spot

Leaf spot disease weaken turf by interrupting their photosynthesis processes which can ultimately lead to leaf loss if not treated. Oftentimes, this disease may remain cosmetic. Fortunately, most leaf spot diseases affect only a small percentage of the shrub or tree’s overall leaf area and are therefore only a minor stress on the turf’s overall health. However, these diseases should be taken seriously to prevent leaf loss. Leaf loss during several consecutive growing seasons can result in reduced growth and increased susceptibility to pests and other diseases.

Powdery Mildew

This disease gets its name from the powdery white substance that appears on an infected plant’s leaf surface. It is the result of millions of fungal spores. This is a serious fungal disease that attacks a wide variety of plant types. Crape Myrtles are especially susceptible. Powdery Mildew can lead to a decrease in vigor, leaf yellowing and browning, distortion, and ultimately leaf drop. It can be treated with a fungicide but must be specifically labeled for the type of mildew you’re dealing with. There is also Downy Mildew (which we’ll discuss next), and it requires a different treatment.

Downy Mildew

The symptoms of Downy Mildew are similar to those that often present for a nutritional deficiency or another disease, making it sometimes difficult to diagnosis. Downy Mildew causes leaves to become yellow or speckled—and sometimes edges can curl downwards. A faint, gray fuzz may grow on the underside of leaves. This fungal infection is most likely to infect young plants and can be treated with a fungicide specifically labeled for it.

Wilt Disease

Wilt symptoms can appear in a large number of broadleaf plants by several species of the Fusarium and Verticillium fungi. While the fungi do differ from one another, the symptoms they cause are quite similar. Plants will first have a wilted appearance—wit individual branches or even leaves being infected first. Foliage may turn yellow and will eventually die and drop. Since the symptoms are so similar amongst both fungi, the only reliable method for a proper diagnosis is a laboratory culture.

Sooty Mold

Though not a disease, we also wanted to talk about sooty mold, as it’s also quite common in our region. Sooty mold is the result of sap-sucking pests like aphids and scales leaving behind an excreted substance called honeydew. Sooty mold grows on honeydew. Although this black mold will not kill plants, it’s unsightly. Plus, it indicates the presence of pests, which can begin to damage or kill plants over time. Horticultural oil can help rid the plant of an infestation.

Partnering with a Pro to Protect your Plants

Of course, these 6 are only some of the potential problems your plants can face. Oftentimes, the most difficult aspect of plant care is making the proper diagnosis in order to determine the best course of action. Since it’s not uncommon for many diseases to mimic one another—or even for other plant problems to look like a disease—it’s helpful to partner with a professional who can guide you.

Not only will a pro help to make the correct diagnosis, but they’ll also know the best treatment and how to take care of your plants going forward. As we mentioned, some diseases are difficult to get rid of. It may not be cost-effective or even possible to save plants that have been infected. Therefore, a professional can also advise when it’s in your best interest to replace dying plants with disease-resistant options.

For more information on how Estate Landscaping can take care of your landscaping needs, give us a call at (239) 498-1187, or Contact Us.

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