News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
Spring is nearly upon us! The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, the trees are turning green…and also brown? Even this early in the season, we’re starting to see Leaf Spot Disease pop up across the Oconee and Athens areas.
What is Leaf Spot Disease?
Leaf Spot Disease is actually an umbrella term used for a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. They are often referred to collectively as they show similar visible signs, and cause similar damage. With so many variants of Leaf Spot Disease out there, pretty much everything with leafy green leaves (or even non-green leaves) is at risk.
As the name suggests, these infections manifest as little spots all over the affected leaves. Spots may be red, reddish-brown, brown, black, gray, or even orange in color, but they all mean the same thing: the plant is sick.
What does Leaf Spot Disease do?
Though they might look harmless, the more Leaf Spots there are on any given leaf, the less surface area that leaf has to perform photosynthesis (the process by which leaves convert sunlight into energy). Too many spots, and the leaf will die. And if enough leaves are impacted and unable to photosynthesize, the tree itself may suffer from lack of nutrients.
What causes Leaf Spot Disease?
There are a few different factors to consider when trying to prevent Leaf Spot Disease, but the biggest one is controlling the spread! Diseased leaves that die and fall to the ground can still infect other plants in the area long after the leaves themselves appear to have withered. Overcrowded plants may also pass the disease along by contact.
Leaf Spot Disease spreads best in damp conditions, where leaves are wet for extended periods of time. Sprinkler systems and watering trees and shrubs by pouring over the top of the plant are both common culprits.
How do I know if my tree or shrub has Leaf Spot Disease?
Pardon the pun, but to spot Leaf Spot Disease, all you have to do is look for spots! Depending on the severity of the condition, some leaves may also begin to brown and wither along the edges.
What should I do if I ‘spot’ Leaf Spot Disease?
Since this disease spreads so easily and is so common, you are unfortunately very likely to find some of your trees, shrubs, and other leafy plants infected. Luckily, severe cases are rare. In fact, you really only need to worry if your tree loses 50% or more of its leaves in one season, or has repeated leaf loss 2 or more years in a row. The consecutive reduction in photosynthesis can impact the plant’s long-term growth and make it more susceptible to other more harmful diseases and pests.
How can I manage and prevent Leaf Spot Disease?
The best thing you can do to prevent Leaf Spot Disease is to keep your trees happy, healthy, and stress-free! To do this, you’ll want to ensure they have plenty of room to grow, both above and underground. Annual pruning to clear away dead or dying limbs and thin out the canopy can help keep branches from competing for nutrients, leading to a healthier tree overall. Keep an eye on the weather, and water your trees during growing season if they go a week or more without rain.
If your trees do end up sick, there are a few steps you can take to manage their condition. Raking away fallen infected leaves before they have the chance to pass on their affliction can help stop the spread. You can also reduce the disease’s preferred damp environment, by watering your trees, shrubs, and other plants near the base, so the leaves themselves don’t get wet.
When bringing new plants in, be sure to consider their full-grown size when you decide where to put them. Overcrowding can cause lots of problems on top of spreading Leaf Spot Disease! Depending on how close together your existing plants are, you may even want to consider thinning them out.
What happens if I have a severe case of Leaf Spot Disease?
If your tree has lost 50% or more of its leaves, or is showing other signs of decline in addition to Leaf Spot Disease, then it’s time to consult your friendly neighborhood Certified Arborist! He or she will be able to assess the state of the tree and determine the best course of action to either save it, or, if necessary, remove it safely.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.