As you look around your landscape this year and come upon a sick or dying plant or tree you'll wonder how you can save it. Whether it's a new plant or the prized, mature tree in your yard there are many causes for health decline- natural and unnatural. Don't just start spraying chemicals. Many gardeners and homeowners think of fertilizers and pesticides like plant medicine. Plant professionals know better. You must diagnose first, then take action.
Diagnosing plant problems can be tricky, even for pros. Many plant problems mimmick others' types of damage. There are four basic categories of problems that can damage a plant's health:
The Environment: weather, soil conditions, too much/too little water, fertilizer, herbicide injury
The Care of the Plant
Insects, Mites, Animal Pests
Careful examination will lend some clues:
leaves damaged or dropping?
leaves look eaten?
are branches dying or is it the whole plant?
When did the problem first appear? A problem all at once usually indicates a one-time event like late frost or chemicals. Problems that spread gradually are more likely an infectious disease or soil problem.
Are other plants having the same sort of problem? Many pests like particular plants as hosts so if it seems to be a group of different plants it's more likely that an environmental or cultural problem is the culprit.
Do you see insects or mites? Small but not invisible, if they're the cause you'll see them. Check the backs of leaves with a magnifying glass.
Is there damage to the trunk or stem of the plant? Damage can start at the roots and show in the leaves so you need to figure out how the plant system is being affected.
Finally, was it caused by the weather? A poor planting site? A hungry deer?
Overfertilizing and randomly spraying beneficials (like ladybugs and praying mantis) along with pest insects is a poor choice for the environment, so talk to the experts about your plant and trees health and keep your valuable and enjoyable landscape looking like the picture of natural health. It's best to leave pesticide application to licensed professionals.
Need an expert to diagnose and help bring the vigor back into your landscape? Contact Wood Acres Tree Specialists and talk to them about their tree and shrub care division.
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