You come home after a long day at work and you find yourself down with fever?
Before taking a med you start analysing, Is it just a viral fatigue or is it something more serious like Dengue fever?Just like humans, plants start showing some visible symptoms of infection. Most of the times the symptoms come to the surface as minute or significant physical changes in the plant.
Plant pathogens being extremely small microorganisms come within visible ranges when they are present in large colonies or numbers. And when that happens, they may present themselves in a wide range of diseases.
Some pathogens, however, attack the basic plant system and show up as a change in the structure or change in plant organs. These changes are discolouration, chlorosis, hairy roots, overgrown galls, curled leaves, necrotic spots, strips, ulcers on leaves or stems, drying of wilting of certain organs or the entire plant.
However, diagnosing plant diseases can be a bit tricky, if not difficult. But that does not mean that you have to be an expert botanist to keep your plants happy and healthy. Paying a little attention from time to time can do a lot of good to your plants. So let us have a look at some common diseases that can affect your green friends.
Types of Plant Diseases and Their Treatments
Plant diseases are commonly classified into the following categories:
Based on the prevalent area and regularity:
• Endemic diseases – They are referred to the diseases that are restricted to certain areas. They are geographically limited and are unlikely to spread naturally to other places.
• Epiphytotic diseases -The frequency of these kinds of diseases is quite occasional or once in a few years, restricted to specific areas only.
• Sporadic diseases- There is no set pattern to spreading of these diseases. They can occur at random places at irregular intervals.
Based on the mode of spreading:
• Spread through soil- These diseases are caused by pathogens invading the plant system through the soil like Root Rot etc.
• Spread through seeds- These diseases are caused by microorganisms carried by pre-infected seeds.
• Spread by air-As the name suggests, the microorganisms, in this case, are air-borne. Some common examples are Rust, Powdery mildew, etc.
• Spread by insects- Some common disease-spreading insects like Flea Beetles, Aphids, etc. cause a variety of plant diseases.
Since prevention is always better than cure. So the earlier you catch a disease, the better it is for your plant.
So let’s look at the list of some common plant diseases and some simple treatments and home remedies to get rid of them:
This plant disease is caused by fungi and affects a wide range of plants like zinnia, and commonly found in fruits and vegetables like papaya, tomatoes etc. It is predominantly an airborne disease spread by Alternaria spores. The disease appears as spots on fruits, leaves, branches, and stems.
A good home remedy is to apply baking soda sprays slightly before the time of the year when the disease normally spreads. Applying Trichoderma harzianum to the soil also works well.
This fungal disease shows as water-soaked spots on leaves and then dry and appear as lesions. The same, however, can be avoided by planting in well-draining soil and avoiding watering over the leaves and stems.
Sprays like compost tea work well for late blights. That said, late blights must be removed and destroyed when spotted to avoid the spread of the disease.
This is a bacterial disease and mainly affects shoots of plants like apples, pears and some flowers like roses.
This disease mainly affects foliage of leguminous plants i.e the plants that belong to pea family. The symptoms appear as water-soaked spots which eventually dry and fall out. Stems may also get affected showing longish lesions. It is recommended to remove and destroy infected plants and grow them using crop rotation techniques.
This fungal plant disease mostly affects creepers, climbers, shrubs and some young trees. It mostly affects stems and branches by creating wound like structures. The orange-red fruiting bodies of the fungus can frequently be seen on the bark. The best technique to control this disease is by regular pruning and trimming of the infected branches.
Fruit rots appear as brownish to black spots which change the basic texture of the fruit. Rots may also affect the roots and stems.
Compost tea and Sulfur sprays along with regular pruning are a good way to control the spread of the disease. However, the same can be controlled effectively by providing sufficient drainage and air circulation in the soil.
This fungal disease shows as reddish-brown powdery spores on small branches, twigs, and needles. This is an airborne disease and can be controlled by keeping a good distance between the plants.
The best advice once again is to remove and destroy the infected plant parts immediately to avoid the same from spreading to other plants in the vicinity.
Wilts can be caused by both fungal and bacterial infections and infect a wide range of flowering plants, vegetables, fruits and indoor plants as well. Here plant’s water conducting system is affected which is comes up with symptoms like wilting and dying off. The best treatment is to use crop rotation and prompt removal of infected parts.
This fungal disease appears as small sunken spots with concentric rings raised at the edge. The fungi mainly affect beans and other leguminous plants. As with other legumes, the best advice is to use crop rotation. Disease resistant seeds are also readily available in most markets.
This is a fungal infection caused by spores which usually attacks vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, etc. Infected plants start discoloring showing yellowing leaves which eventually drop out. The disease can be prevented by adjusting the soil pH levels to 6.8 and using disease-resistant varieties.
This fungal disease affects a variety of plants and presents as white or purple growths on the undersides of leaves trailing the stem. A 3-year rotation is a good way to prevent the disease. Home remedies like baking soda sprays work well to control the spread of the disease.
These are easy to recognize fungi which appear as white powdery growth on the upper surface of the leaves. These are spread across from plant to plant by the wind. Keep good air circulation to prevent the disease and use baking soda sprays or other home remedies like Neem oil spray to prevent it from spreading.
These appear as swollen tissue masses which are rounded and rough surfaces and can be caused by both bacterial and fungal infections. These are commonly noticed on the stem near the soil surface.
The galls need to be cut off as soon as they start and for areas where the growth infectious growth is intense, it is best to destroy the diseased parts.
This disease effects roses and appears as black spots on the leaf surfaces. Infected leaves must be immediately removed and destroyed. Baking soda or Neem oil sprays are particularly helpful in controlling this infection from spreading.
These appear as woolly growths on plant tissues. These start by affecting the dead tissues like decaying flowers and fruits.
It is hence advisable to remove any dead tissue immediately on observation. The best prevention method is to keep a good air rotation and avoid watering on the leaves and stems.
Reduced growth, wilting, rotted roots, excessive root branching, yellowing of leaves, etc are some of the visible symptoms. Maintaining the soil organic matter is a good way to prevent nematode invasion.
Hot water dips are helpful to remove nematodes from underground plant tissues.
Viral infected plants present with declined or poor growth and are mostly spread by insects. Using some certified insecticides is a good way to prevent most viral diseases.
Keeping the plants healthy is the best way to prevent infections and diseases. It is hence advisable to keep the soil well nourished, watered with optimal sunlight exposure. Other simple precautions like sterilizing the sowing equipment and cleaning the tools before use also helps.
Healthy practices like keeping the roots well-watered and the soil well drained, avoiding watering near the stem or on the leaves, regular pruning and destroying the infected plant parts go a long way in preventing these diseases from happening in the first place.
All you need is to show some love to your plants and be vigilant in your day to day observations to get these diseases treated before they spread wild.