How to Diagnose Plant Problems?
Spoiler alert: yes, they do. People have been looking for ways to diagnose plant problems and treat them from times immemorial. Not only do plant diseases affect the appearance of houseplants, but they also destroy half of the food crops. Shocking, isn’t it? Just imagine the world without plant diseases! Maybe we could finally solve the global hunger problem. However, it would only be possible with adequate research carried out both by scientists and by plant enthusiasts. But before getting down to plant diagnosis, it is important to come to grips with some basic points.
Types of Plant Diseases
Depending on the source, plant diseases are subdivided into two main types:
- Abiotic diseases are caused by non-living factors, such as physical and mechanical damage; temperature, light, oxygen, and moisture extremes; chemical factors; nutritional disorders, and others. These factors are quite common and are linked to improper environmental conditions.
- Biotic diseases, on the other hand, are the result of pathogens settling on the plant. Among them are viruses, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and parasitic higher plants.
Both types are rather dangerous and require immediate action. The first step to their elimination is plant disease diagnosis which is described below.
Identifying Your Plant’s Disease
It’s as clear as daylight that before taking any measures, it’s necessary to find out what to treat the plant for, that is diagnose plant problems. To identify the disease your beauty is suffering from, ask the following questions – and the situation may clear up.
Question #1: What Is This Plant?
You probably already know what plant is in front of you. But in case you don’t, identify your plant first. You should find out what your plant’s botanical name is because common names are often misleading and can result in erroneous diagnosis and, consequently, inadequate treatment. To get to know your plant better, use a plant identification app. NatureID really helps with it!
Question #2: How Does the Plant Behave When It Is Healthy?
Before starting to panic, it’s reasonable to learn the plant characteristics to see how it generally looks like and what habits it has. For instance, the baldcypress is a conifer, and a novice gardener would consider it to be evergreen (which is quite logical). However, in fall, this tree turns brown, which scares the hell out of its owner who sometimes even takes a saw to get rid of the unlucky plant. Don’t repeat this mistake – study your plant carefully first.
Question #3: What Problems Can the Plant Experience?
In plant disease diagnosis, it is essential to understand what problems your plant’s species and genus most commonly face. It can help rule certain conditions out and narrow the search.
Question #4: What Symptoms Does the Plant Show?
After you’ve made sure that your plant is sick and factored out a number of diseases based on the plant’s genus, you can proceed to describing the disease’s symptoms. Your plant may start dropping off leaves, developing leaf spots and blisters, getting stem dieback and cankers, experiencing root rot and other unpleasant conditions. Carefully document them – they will help you diagnose plant problems.
Question #5: What are my next steps?
Chances are you already know what disease your plant has caught. If you don’t, consult those who excel at plant disease diagnosis – a professional gardener, a gardening service, a diagnostic laboratory. Don’t be scared to ask for help – self-treatment may prove counterproductive and do your plant even more harm.