Spring - The Time Is Right

Posted: March 10, 2015

Spring is that time of year when everything comes alive. It’s a time of hope, renewal, and opportunity. There is a high level of active growth in the garden and landscape. Tiny tender buds are beginning to open and expand into leaves and flowers.

This is also the time when disease pathogens that were dormant during the long winter become active. These fungi and bacteria, left behind from the previous season, are waiting for optimal temperatures and moisture in order to begin to live and thrive on host plants, thereby disrupting the physiology of the plant.

Bacterial diseases such as fireblight and needlecasts can cause new infections during the formation of flowers and needles. Cedar rusts are forming spores after overwintering on junipers and will be blown to broadleaf plants. Also downy mildew and gray mold are forming on young plants during the spring months.  

Oak Leaf with diseaseSpring is generally an ideal time to treat with fungicides and bactericides because sprays are most effective during active growth. Spraying in springtime attacks the pathogens when they are most vulnerable.

During the dormant phase, other measures can be utilized such as careful cleanup, removal and disposal of debris, and pruning of infected parts.

Conditions which can be treated effectively with spring spraying include anthracnose on shade trees such as ash, oak, sycamore, maple, dogwood and other deciduous hardwoods, apple scab, various rust diseases, black spot, and blights of ground covers and woody ornamentals. Leaf spots can also be identified and treated during the spring.

Spring is the right time to spray!

For further information on key plants and key diseases outdoors, visit the Penn State's Plant Disease website 

Call the Horticulture Hotline at 570-602-0622 for help in the diagnosis of plant disease and for answers to your gardening questions. 

Peg Jones, Luzerne County Master Gardener