If you’re a farmer or plant enthusiast, be it for a hobby or your profession, then you’re all too painfully aware of the reality of plant diseases.
Some of them can wiggle their way in unnoticed and ravage your crops before you even have a chance to fight back. It can be anything from a simple fungal infection to full-on bio-warfare.
Fortunately, you do have ways of fighting against these tiny little buggers, and these methods are entirely natural, too.
Losing even a few units of crops can be devastating if they’re your full income. Plus, all the time, money, and care you spent in building your fields and gardens.
In this plant diagnosis guide, we’re here to help you sort through some different methods to make the process a little easier to bear.
Below are the main diseases that affect plants and how to identify and treat them naturally.
1. Bacterial Canker
Image via compuventas.com.co
One of the main bacterial diseases in plants, this fruit killer likes to show up right after the trees have been wounded. It does so either through pruning or something else that causes a gash in the bark.
It takes the form of sunken, water-soaked, and gummy looking lesions on the trunk or twigs.
Preventing Bacterial Canker
Prune trees during blooming for fast healing and remove weeds and grass from around the base of the tree.
Monterey Complete is a great natural treatment to use against bacterial canker and it’s eco-friendly as well.
Just be careful to only prune during blooming and never otherwise to drastically improve your chances of missing canker this year.
2. Blossom End Rot
Image via smallfootprintfamily.com
You’ll find this dark brown, sunken-in patch in tomatoes and peppers most commonly, and it’s an environmental issue caused by lack of calcium or under-watering.
Preventing Blossom End Rot
Mix bone meal or oyster shells into the soil to bring up the calcium levels.
Use mulch to help keep soil evenly moist and retain this moisture for long periods.
You can also find a whole list of organic fertilizers in this article for extra assistance.
With mulch, your water will be distributed more evenly, preventing blossom end rot from easily taking hold.
Because blossom end rot isn’t a fungal or bacterial problem, fungicides won’t help here.
3. Brown Rot
Picture via weeklytimesnow.com.au
This is another fruit killer and it’s very common.
Brown rot likes to hide out in mummified fruit that wasn’t collected and it can kill off a whole tree fairly quickly.
Fruits will show circular brown spots with rotting areas producing clumps of gray spores.
Getting Rid of Brown Rot
There are resistant types of plants you can incorporate, and if you see the infection, remove and destroy the plant ASAP.
Water the tree from below to keep blossoms and fruit dry and if you need to, Organocide organic treatment works very well against this threat.
4. Club Root
Image via producer.com
Brassicas (cruciferous vegetables, mustard, cauliflower, kale, cabbages, etc.) are most at risk of this root killer.
Once it implants, it causes the roots to form improperly and swollen, preventing water and nutrients from being properly absorbed.
The plants around the base will turn brown or yellow and start to die. The spores can survive in the soil for up to ten years, so treatment is crucial.
Preventing Club Root
You can’t use organic fungicides, so focus on cleaning your garden and rotating your crops.
Weed carefully and keep your soil’s pH balance at alkaline 7.2, testing it (with a Soil Test Kit) frequently throughout the season.
5. Anthracnose Fungus
Photo via almanac.com
This one is caused by fungi that resemble dark, water-soaked lesions, filled with gelatinous pink masses of spores on the inside.
It generally affects tropical foliage and woody ornamentals.
To treat it ahead of time, you’ll want to try to select varieties of resistant plants with western grown seeds that haven’t been exposed to this typically eastern fungus.
Use CEASE bio-friendly and non-toxic fungicide that won’t harm your crops or pollinators.
This means that bees can come and go uninhibited and continue to pollinate without a care in the world.
6. Damping Off
Image via groworganic.com
The seedling killer, a soil-borne fungal killer of new seeds and seedlings.
Unfortunately, there’s no cure once it’s taken hold, as it causes new growth to become mushy and water-soaked, killing them at the base.
Preventing Damping Off
By providing good air circulation and using an organic bio-fungicide, you stand a good chance of protecting the seedlings from this silent killer.
7. Downy Mildew
Image via flickr.com
This mildew appears on leaf surfaces as yellow or white patches, with the undersides of the leaves featuring white or gray cotton-like fungi.
They make themselves known just after a rain, disappearing again when the sun comes out. It can cause the leaves to crisp up and fall off even with water.
Getting Rid of Downy Mildew
You can fight downy mildew by staking your plants and watering early in the morning so they can dry out during the day.
Remove and destroy any infected plants right away and apply BANISH whenever necessary to assist in the destruction of the mildew.
8. Early Blight
Picture via pestnet.org
Early blight is a common bane of tomato and potato plants. It creates brown spots in a bullseye pattern on the older leaves, turning them yellow and causing them to wither.
Preventing Early Blight
By pruning and staking, as well as keeping the soil clean and debris free gives them a good chance of survival.
By adding organic compost, you can also further protect the vegetation from soil spores.
Fungastop organic garden fungicide can also work wonders in protection against this fungus.
9. Fusarium Wilt
Image via fieldcrops.cals.cornell.edu
This soil-borne pathogen attacks all kinds of common crops like potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes.
It restricts water flow, causing them to wither and die quickly. The symptoms don’t usually show up until late in the growing season.
Preventing Fusarium Wilt
Try to select resistant varieties of plants and remove stricken plants from the garden when discovered.
You can also use organic high-nitrogen fertilizers to add extra immunity, as well as slow-release organic fertilizers.
10. Gray Mold
Photo via koppertus.com
This one can affect just about everything, showing up as a cluster of gray spores that attach to the fruit or vegetable in question and spread rapidly.
Gray mold usually develops in high humidity and causes fruit and plants to shrivel.
Getting Rid of Gray Mold
Use a fan or stakes to improve airflow and use a generous amount of organic compost or mulch beneath the plants.
Water early in the morning with a soaker hose and allow plants to dry thoroughly.
BANISH garden fungicide can also help to provide the final oomph against the invader.
11. Late Blight
Image via thespruce.com
Tomatoes and potatoes get the worst of this one, a fungal infection that doesn’t occur until late into the growing season.
Late blight appears as water-soaked gray spots on older leaves which darken with white fungal growth beneath the leaves appearing.
Interestingly enough, this was the cause of the Irish potato famine in the mid-1800s.
Preventing Late Blight
Some plants are resistant to it, and early soaker waterings help prevent it from appearing.
All debris must be destroyed following the harvest.
12. Leaf Curl
Image via baag.com.au
This is an annoying virus that likes peaches and nectarines and is the bane of orchards everywhere.
Reddish areas develop thick puckering that causes leaves to curl in on themselves.
Preventing Leaf Curl
Rake the ground beneath the trees regularly and apply organic fertilizers while cutting back more fruit than normal.
13. Leaf Spot
Image via nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu
A pathogen that causes leaf spots to form on stone fruit trees and some kinds of vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce.
Brown or black water-soak spots will start to appear larger and larger and run together, causing leaves to wither and dry up.
Preventing Leaf Spot
Make sure the soil beneath is kept clean and moist, applying generous mulch if need be.
Prune or stake for added circulation.
14. Mosaic Virus
Picture via almanac.com
It affects too many plants to list, but it often creates yellow, white, or green markings on the leaves and causes smaller leaves to wrinkle or curl.
Fruit appears warty and mottled when it comes in.
Preventing Mosaic Virus
There’s no cure for the mosaic virus, so make every effort you’d normally use to prevent it by cleaning, weeding, and staking as much as possible.
15. Potato Scab
Image via allotment-garden.org
Potato growers are very familiar and annoyed with this one. It’s found wherever there are potatoes, much to the chagrin of the farmers.
Symptoms resemble dark brown patchy areas that can look like raised warts.
Potato scab can affect a small section or completely envelop the whole potato. The spores can survive indefinitely in low-acidity soil and can enter directly through the skin of any young tuber.
Preventing Potato Scab
To avoid, practice regular rotation of crops and keep pH levels at 5.2 or lower.
Make sure your potatoes have adequate irrigation methods and whatever you do, do NOT overwater.
16. Powdery Mildew
Photo via almanac.com
Thankfully, powdery mildew is different from the others, in that it has a very limited host range.
They aren’t very likely to spread from their infected plant to another in close proximity if it isn’t a good match. But if your soil is low moisture in high humidity, you can expect to see it at some point.
This is a late-blooming disease that affects outdoor plants and creates raised, blister-like areas causing leaves to curl. It also creates a white, powdery substance on the upper surfaces of the leaves which prevents them from opening.
Getting Rid of Powdery Mildew
It’s best to plant your seedlings in sunny locations with regular pruning and stakes applied. Make sure to keep the ground debris-free and use a thick layer of added mulch.
You can also use milk sprays to further discourage the mildew from forming. This spray is made from 40% milk and 60% water as an effective home remedy that can actually be used on a wide variety of different crops.
There is also neem oil and BANISH that can be employed as an added bio-friendly technique.
Finally, destroy all crops after harvest.
17. Rust Fungus
Picture via britannica.com
Bad news; there are over 5,000 different species of rust on plants and they can attack almost anything from crops to lawns.
It looks like white raised spots on the undersides of leaves which become covered in rust-colored masses of spores and eventually cause discoloration and leaf dropping.
Good news; they can be dealt with.
Treating Rust Fungus
By watering early in the morning with a soaker hose, you give the plants time to dry off during the day.
Use a slow-release organic fertilizer to avoid excess nitrogen distribution.
You can also use Fungastop again for an extra layer of protection if the problem worsens. And a thick layer of mulch beneath the plants certainly never hurt.
The variety of plant problems out there is truly mind-boggling, especially since some of them literally can’t be stopped once they take hold.
However, there are always healthy habits you can get into to protect your plants in advance from any organisms looking for an easy meal.
Just stay calm, use your natural green thinking, and get busy.