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Here's How to Disease-Proof Your Garden

Just like people and pets, plants get diseases, but they can be stopped before they start.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Kristin Lee/Getty

There's something sad and frustrating about seeing a once-healthy plant suddenly overcome with a disease. Far from being a welcome addition to a garden, a diseased plant has nowhere to go except in the trash. To reduce the likelihood of disease like gray mold or brown rot affecting your plants, check out the following tips. They'll help prevent any maladies and keep your garden looking green and gorgeous for seasons to come.

 

Related: 6 Common Houseplant Problems, and What to Do About Them

 

Make smart choices.

It may seem obvious but it's worth saying: If you want to lower the chances of your plants getting sick, only buy plants known to be disease-resistant. You could plant flowers like Mountain hydrangea, daylilies, and carnations, and vegetables and herbs like Parris Island lettuce and lemon basil. As an added plus for the environment, plants that aren't diseased won't require pesticides, which can contaminate soil and water.

 

Tidy up the site.

The more sanitary the garden, the less chance of disease spreading. To create a clean and healthy place, dispose of weeds, dead stems and branches, and any other debris where plants live. And always clean your tools when you're done pruning; give an extra scrubbing to any tools that came in contact with diseased plants. 

 

Give plants room to breathe.

According to the New York Botanical Garden, overcrowding plants will lead to poor air circulation. A fungal disease like powdery mildew will likely take over as a lack of airflow will create problems with the humidity level around susceptible plants. Remove excess leaves and branches to let plants breathe.

 

Don't stress them out.

Know which conditions a plant will flourish in and make it happen. If plants are in a situation they're not compatible with, such as being in lots of sun when they actually crave lots of shade, they may become too weak to fight off disease and infections, which prey on such plants. Over- and under-watering will have the same effect. As for watering, make sure you're doing it right. Don't water from overhead; instead, direct it to the base of the plant avoiding leaves. Also, watering in the morning is best for plants because by the time evening comes, the sun will have dried any excess moisture on leaves. 

 

Lay down mulch.

Besides reducing evaporation from the soil surface and inhibiting weeds from growing, mulch helps keep diseases away. A layer of mulch acts as a barrier so soil-borne fungi won't be able to splash onto the plants' foliage.

 

Never compost diseased plant parts.

This is one time you should throw everything out.