How to Detect & Prevent Rust in Plants

Views: 16324 | Last Update: 2009-02-04
Detecting and preventing rust in plants involves looking for small brown or rust-colored spots on the leaves and drying the plant out completely to prevent the growth of mold. Treat a mold- or rust-stricken growth with plant tips from a sustainable... View Video Transcript

About this Author

Yolanda Vanveen

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment we're going to talk about how to detect and prevent rust in plants. Now rust in plants isn't like rust on metal, it's not just the oxidization of metal, it's a very different thing. It's basically mold that grows onto your plants. And so they start with little brown spores underneath the leaves, they'll look kind of like there's a rusty spot on your plant, and it spreads. And it can spread to other plants as well. And really the only way that you can prevent it is by not allowing your plants to get too wet. And really just like your metal rusting, plants rust because it's too wet. And so by just airing it out or drying it completely in between watering, you can prevent your plants from getting rust. Now I've had problems with rust in the wintertime, it's December and a lot of my perennials and annuals are dying back, and so they get all these rust spots on them just because it's starting to get really cold at night and it's been raining and there wet and they never dry out and they're not getting that hot full summer sun. So, to prevent the rust, make sure and keep your plants on the dry side. Let them dry out completely in between watering them. Never let them sit in water and by just cleaning them up or cutting the rust spots out, a lot of times you can save the plant. But, if your plant is totally covered with the rust spots and it's just turning and it looks like it's just kind of turning really mushy and not looking healthy at all, then I would cut it all the way down to the ground. And if it's a perennial, it will come up and grow again. If it's an annual you've lost it for that year. But a lot times perennials will get the rusty spots in the fall into the winter months because it's just so wet. And just by airing it out and giving them some dry time, you can prevent that rust. And even if you through your plants and kind of clip them out if they're real thick a lot of times you can stop the rust from expanding too, because you might start with one plant that has rust but it's a mold, and so those mold spores jump to other plants and then more mold will result. For example, this snapdragon right here has a little bit of rust, it's turning to mold, you can tell that a lot of the seeds have gotten wet and the leaves are turning brown. And so there's mold spots on the bottom leaves 'cause they're just dying, it's wet and it's cold for them. But that's okay, this snapdragon is an annual that probably won't come back next year anyway, but I always go ahead and cut it down to the ground as soon as it's lost more of its leaves, and I'll just leave it in the ground and it should come back anyway next year. There's a good chance of it. So rust in plants is really natural, it's just mold, it's just like mold that grows in your shower, it's just because it's wet and you haven't cleaned it up. And an easy way too if you've got rust on your plants is to either use any kind of a vegetable oil and if you rub it on the leaves a lot of times that will stop the rust, even if you mix it in baking soda, I've heard that helps as well. And I found too by using some natural shower sprays, anything that's organic that is created to kill mold in the shower, if your spray your plants with that it will help it as well. But in the end, it's part of the natural process and if you can take your plants into drier conditions, then you won't have rust and you'll have a beautiful garden.