Plant Rust Identification, Management, and Prevention



What Is Plant Rust?

Identification. Rust diseases are common fungal infections that affect a wide variety of plants. Rust fungi are dependent on a live host for survival.  It will not directly kill a plant, but it will contribute to its decline. There are more than 5,000 known species.

How Do I Know If I Have Plant Rust?

Damage.  Depending on the attacking fungi, there are several telltale signs that Rust may be attacking your plants.  Here’s what to look for.

Rust-yellow to orange spots form on leaves.

Yellow to brown streaks on leaves.

Yellow-orange pustules on the underside of the leaves.

Leaves that turn yellow and dry up in the advanced stages.

Powdery fungus that disperses when touched.

Can I Get Rid of Plant Rust?

There are natural products on the market that contain biological agents that work to enhance a plant’s health to help resist infection.  These biological agents are also used to compete with plant pathogens. Look for products that contain neem oil, sulfur, potassium bicarbonate or bacillus subtilis. For example, Serenade contains a strain of bacillus subtilis, which are beneficial bacteria.

Though not necessary unless rust has been a problem, you can use a preventative product such as Mancozeb Fungicide with Zinc as a protectant.

Can I Prevent Plant Rust?

Prevention. A few simple measures can help you to prevent rust diseases from infecting your plants.

Purchase only disease-free plants.

Keep new plants isolated for a few weeks before intermingling them with established plants that are disease-free.

Don’t overcrowd plants.  Allow plenty of space for airflow.

Mulch around plants to discourage rust fungi from overwintering on plant debris.

Wet leaves encourage rust growth.  Use drip irrigation rather than overhead watering.  Water at a time of day when the foliage will dry quickly.

Fungi spores move readily through the air or direct contact.  Remove infected plants and destroy.

Some rusts overwinter.  Remove all garden debris at the end of the season.

Disinfect gardening tools.

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