If your garden flowers are looking a little discolored or your plants' leaves are failing to unfurl, then the likely culprit is one or possibly a combination of garden fungus diseases. While this can be frustrating, the good news for gardeners is that most garden fungus diseases are fairly easy to control, once you know what you are dealing with. A basic familiarity with garden fungal infections will help you spot trouble early on and avert problems before they get serious.
Botrytis causes flowers to wilt quickly and, in some cases, to fail to open entirely. The petals develop gray fungal growths, and buds may feel squashy and moist. This fungus usually occurs in areas of the garden that are moist and can be prevented by drip-hose watering in the early morning and careful spacing of plants to ensure adequate air circulation. If you notice botrytis on your flowers, remove all affected areas of the plant using sterile pruning and dispose of the plant debris in a sealed plastic bag or by burning. Remove any plant debris from the areas underneath the plants as well to prevent reinfection. If this natural approach fails, kill off botrytis with fungicides.
Anthracnose is a fungal infection with symptoms that manifest mainly on the leaves of garden plants. The infection begins with the appearance of small, black spots on the leaves of the plants and, if allowed to continue unchecked, creates black or brown areas on the leaves of the plants on the outside edges and in between vein markings. Over time, it can kill the plant completely.
To check the spread of anthracnose, remove all affected plant parts using sterile pruning technique in late fall or early spring to limit the spread of the disease. Dispose of all plant materials in sealed bags and rake additional debris out from under existing plantings to prevent reinfection. There are fungicides that will treat anthracnose, but not all are legal in all areas of the country, so check with a professional before applying any to your garden.
Rust is caused by a number of different fungal pathogens, but you do not need to be a mycologist to beat this stuff. Rust generally appears in the form of reddish, orange or brown lesions on the underside of plant leaves. Fortunately, it is largely a cosmetic issue and generally will not kill the plant, although it can weaken it over time. Use preventative fungicides to keep rust out of your garden completely, but if the rust has already infected some of your garden plants, use sterile pruning to remove all affected foliage and dispose of that foliage in sealed bags. Do not put the foliage on compost piles, or you risk spreading the infection.