Tips for Spraying Plants and Flowers

Give your plants and flowers a break this year by keeping them protected against pests.
You’ll be well rewarded in healthier plants and a more spectacular bloom that will be the envy of the neighbors. More vigorous plants also mean less loss from drought or winter injury plus more blooms next year.

All of the 1500 kinds of flowers commonly grown in our gardens are attacked by a few of the 40,000 or more plant diseases which plague ornamentals. Luckily, most of these do little damage.

Successful disease control depends upon a sound cultural management program of which spraying or dusting is only a small part.

This starts with the purchase of the best seed or plant stock available and continues throughout the growing season and into winter dormancy. Other practices include:

  • A three or four year rotation in flower beds, using plants which are not related. This aids in controlling root, crown and stem rots, as well as wilt diseases, caused by organisms which persist in the soil from year to year. For fungi which can live almost indefinitely in the soil, fumigation may be the answer.
  • Where practical, collect and destroy infected plant parts. Dig up and burn plants which have incurable diseases. Burn, or bury deeply, old plant debris in the fall. Sanitation helps control most types of diseases.
  • Avoid overcrowding. Space plants according to their size at maturity. This improves air circulation, lets in sunlight, and aids in controlling leaf spots, blights, rusts, mildews, stem and crown rots.
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  • Plant in well-drained soil. Good soil drainage will check many types of wills; seed, root, crown, rhizome, stern, bulb and corm rots; damping-off and seedling blight; and cutting rot.
  • Control weeds, especially perennial ones, which are frequently infected with virus and other types of diseases. Insects such as leafhoppers, aphids, thrips and grasshoppers transmit viruses (such as mosaic, aster yellows, spotted wilt) from weeds to flowers.
  • Control insects. Insects may transmit a wide range of diseases (besides viruses) including root rots, stem rots, and flower blights. Frequently the disease-causing organism enters a plant through a wound made by an insect or mite.
  • When watering, keep the foliage dry. Water in the morning or when drying will be rapid. Most organisms causing foliage diseases require from four to 12 hours of continuous moisture on the leaves, flowers and stems in order to grow, penetrate into, and infect plants.
  • When propagating, take cuttings only from the most vigorous, healthy plants. Save the choicest specimens for “mother plants.”
  • Treat seed, bulbs, corms, rhizomes or other plant stock with a protective fungicide.
  • Where possible, plant disease-resistant varieties, or kinds of plants, if locally adapted and recommended.
  • Avoid excessively close and deep cultivation. Cultivator wounds provide easy entrances for root and crown rot-producing organisms.
  • Grow only varieties (and usually species of plants) recommended by your State Agricultural Extension Service or Experiment Station. Follow local recommendations regarding time and depth of planting, fertilization and other cultural practices.
  • Use protective fungicides. Spraying generally gives better control than dusting.

Spray or Dust Control Program

To be effective, the right chemicals must be applied at the right time and in the right way. It is usually necessary to cover the whole plant with each application including the undersides of the leaves.

Sprays or dusts should be applied at five to 14 day intervals. Shorten the time between applications if the period is rainy or growth is rapid.

During hot, dry weather stretch the time between applications to 10-14 days. The manufacturers directions, local recommendations and past experience all help determine a sound control program for your flowers.

All-purpose sprays are most convenient for the majority of home gardeners. Read the package label carefully before you buy.

The mixture is safe to use on most fruits and vegetables (up to seven to 14 days before harvest as stated on the label) as well as flowers, trees, shrubs. vines and lawns. The addition of a teaspoonful of liquid soap to three gallons of spray will aid in wetting glossy leaves of peony, gladiolus, rose, iris. and similar plants.

Tips To Improve Your Plant Care
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