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​June 2020​

Plant Health and Your Garden

More of us than ever are turning to our own backyards, balconies, or community gardens for solace. Growing your own food and flowers or just interacting with nature is practical, rewarding and comforting in these uncertain times. But your plants may not be alone in your garden. Plant pathogens and the diseases they cause might also be lurking. Do you know your lawns, flowers, trees, vegetables and herbs can get sick too? Some diseases might be just minor nuisances. Others have the potential to decimate.

Fortunately, plant health specialists including plant pathologists, can provide science-based advice and expertise for controlling pathogens and diseases in your garden. Nationwide, land-grant universities, agricultural industries, government agencies, and nonprofit groups facilitate publicly-funded research into pathogen biology; monitor, minimize, and respond to the introduction of exotic plant pathogens; deliver sound disease management advice; and provide educational opportunities for homeowners, gardeners, and others interested in our urban, suburban and rural landscapes.

Take action! Home gardeners can learn how proper hygiene can minimize plant diseases. Proper watering techniques, planting disease resistance varieties, cleaning pruning shears between cuts, promptly removing and properly disposing of disease plants, and other low cost (or no cost) practices can have a big impact on preventing or managing plant diseases. Stressed plants are more susceptible to disease, so keep your plants healthy by regular watering, fertilizing and weeding. When necessary, seek out advice from your local Extension professionals on how and when to use biological or chemical controls to maximize their effectiveness and minimize the required dosage. Consider becoming a Master Gardener by completing training and volunteer opportunities related to the home garden. And if you need help or are baffled by a disease you see in your garden, reach out to your friendly plant disease clinic. Housed at most land-grant universities, plant disease clinics across the U.S. are united through the National Plant Diagnostic Network. These professionals can diagnose garden diseases and offer insights into sustainable management.

Plant Health Is Your Health!

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