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Recognizing Diseases Common to Herbs

Although less susceptible to them, herbs are not completely immune to plant diseases. Perhaps it is due to their undomesticated nature or their high concentrations of aromatic oils, but young or weak plants can still become a target. It is important to protect the seedlings of your herbs as well as the more mature plants from rots, mildews, viruses, fungi, and wilts. Good gardening practices, including prompt clean up and plant rotation, will take care of many problems. This list will show the most common diseases, what they look like, what plants they attack, and how you can control them.

Anthracnose – Small, water-soaked spots on the aboveground parts. Turns a light color and may drop out. Forms elongated tan cankers. It is a fungus.

Bacterial Soft Rot – Soft decay of the fleshy tissues, causing them to become slimy or watery. Shoots will wilt and blacken at the base.

Bacterial Wilt – No yellowing occurs, but plants will wilt and die. Stem sap produces strings while the vascular system turns brown.

Black Spot – Black circles form on both sides of the leaves, up to ½ inch in diameter, with indistinct, fuzzy edges. The tissue around the spots turns yellow and leaves drop. It is a fungus.

Botrytis Blight – Small yellow, orange, or brown splotches on the leaves, flowers, roots, or bulbs. Once it spreads, the plants become coated with fuzzy, gray mold and hard, black blisters on the plants stems. It is a fungus.

Crown Rot – Fibrous fans of white fungus near the base of the plants. Also appears as a red or light brown crust on the soil’s surface around the plants. Plants turn yellow, wilt, and die.

Curly Top – The leaves pucker and curl down, cupping or looks like little balls. The young plants are stunted and die. It is a virus.

Damping Off – This disease kills the seedling’s roots. The affected plants are water-soaked and look shriveled.

Downy Mildew – Yellow spots appear on the upper surface of the leaves. Downy or violet-gray mold appears on the undersides. Leaves wither and die.

Leaf Smut – Black, sooty spots or stripes on the leaves. Leaves will twist and curl. Plants eventually die. It is a fungus.

Leaf Spot – Tiny, greenish yellow spots on the upper side of the leaves, which forms a white spot surrounded by a red band. This may drop out to give the appearance of a shot-hole. It is a fungus.

Mosaic Virus – Yellow and green blotched, curled leaves and stunted plants. Leaves grow upright in rosettes with misshaped flowers.

Powdery Mildew – White, powdery mold on upper surfaces of leaves and petioles. The foliage will brown and wilt, then drop. It is a fungus.

Root Rot – Rotted, yellowish brown to black roots and underground stems. Outside layers of root slough off, leaving a central core. It is a fungus.

Rusts – Reddish, orange, or black waxy pustules on the stems and foliage. Leaves may drop prematurely. The plants look unsightly. It is a fungus.

Stem Rot – Dead areas will develop at the bases. Plants will wilt, fall, and die. It is a fungus.

Verticillium Wilt – Yellowed blotches on the leaves, gradually turning to brown. The entire plant is affected at once, causing midday wilting. Leaves drop, beginning at the bottom of the plant. Also causes chlorosis – or greensickness – and stunting. It is a fungus.

By knowing more about the things that attack your plants, you will have better gardens year by year. Happy gardening!

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