The best way to prevent garden diseases and problems is to keep your plants as healthy and well cared for as possible. Healthier plants can better fight off infections and resist damage by common insects.
Although some common plant ailments are beyond the control of even the best gardener, taking the following steps to protect your garden from disease and keep your plants vigorous and healthy is your best defense:
- Give your plants the recommended amounts of water, fertilizer, and sunlight. The staff at your local nursery or garden center can give you information on the specific growth needs of each plant you buy.
- Buy disease-resistant varieties of plants when possible. Seed packets and seedlings at the nursery are labeled to show their resistance to common garden diseases.
- Avoid damaging the roots when you transplant seedlings. Damage to the plant’s root system is a major cause of plant disease and other problems.
- Use caution when weeding, fertilizing, tilling the soil, etc. to avoid injuring plants as you work in the garden. Damaged stems and roots are a leading source of bacterial and fungal infections.
- If possible, avoid working in the garden when the weather is very damp. Dampness can spread disease and fungus, and it is easy to unknowingly spread infections among the plants.
- If possible, use either a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose when watering plants. These two watering methods help avoid getting water on the leaves and flowers. Standing water on plants is a source of fungal and bacterial infections. Also, standing water makes it easy for infections to spread from one plant to another.
- Remove any diseased plants from the garden immediately to prevent an infection from spreading.
- Dispose of diseased plants with the regular household trash. Do NOT mulch the infected plants or add them to a compost bin. Although the heat of decomposition destroys many disease-causing organisms, some survive. It’s best to not take the chance that composted materials could re-infect the garden bed.
- Keep your garden clean. A clean garden is less susceptible to infection. It is a good idea to thoroughly clean the garden bed after every growing season, including removing weeds and dead plant parts. Some plant pathogens can survive the winter cold.