Bleeding heart trees are popular perennial blooming shrubs or trees that thrive in the shade. Their striking flowers are ideal for accenting lawns and gardens, while their relatively low maintenance requirements are great for weekend gardeners. However, there are some diseases that can weaken your bleeding heart and prevent it from gracing your yard with brilliant flowers. The best way to prevent these problems is to know the signs and symptoms of bleeding heart tree diseases so that you can avert problems and keep your bleeding heart tree healthy for years to come.
Botrytis is a gray mold that can infect a variety of plant species, so you need to get the infection under control as quickly as possible in order to prevent the problem from spreading throughout your yard. If you note brown, mushy or soggy plant material on your bleeding heart tree, inspect it for silvery or gray fruiting masses or spores. If you spot them, then you are dealing with gray mold. Use sterile pruning to remove affected areas of the plant as soon as you get a dry day. Do not allow debris to fall to the ground or it will reinfect the plant. Remove mulch and leaves under the tree as well. You will need to dispose of the plant material completely by burning or sealing in garbage bags. If the infection persists, you can treat the plant with neem oil or potassium bicarbonate. If you cannot get rid of the infection completely, you will need to remove your bleeding heart tree before the infection spreads to other plants in the area.
Leaf spot is a common problem on a variety of ornamental trees and shrubs, including bleeding heart trees. The first sign of trouble is small, black or brown discolorations on the leaves. Left unchecked, these discolorations will enlarge and often develop yellow rings while the centers rot out. Eventually the leaves will fall prematurely and the plant can weaken and die. Since leaf spot is usually localized it can be controlled via sterile pruning and disposal of affected plant material. Continue to monitor your bleeding heart and remove any additional infected leaves. Start watering in the early morning using a drip hose to prevent a humid environment around the tree that will encourage the fungus. If the problem persists, it can be treated with a fungicide.
Powdery mildew can be black, gray, white or pink. It looks like chalk dust on the plant. Use sterile pruning to remove the affected areas of the bleeding heart tree and dispose of the debris in a garbage bag or by burning rather than allowing it to fall to the ground, where it can reinfect the tree. Watering early in the morning and keeping water off the leaves of your bleeding heart will help prevent the problem from returning.