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Boston fern
Boston fern
Boston fern
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'
Hardiness Zones
Hardiness Zones
10 to 12
care guide

Care Guide for Boston fern

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Watering Care
Watering Care
Details on Watering Care Watering Care
Fertilizing Care
Fertilizing Care
Details on Fertilizing Care Fertilizing Care
Pruning
Pruning
Shape the plant every 2 months during the growing season.
Details on Pruning Pruning
Soil Care
Soil Care
Sand, Loam, Acidic
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Repotting
Repotting
Needs excellent drainage in pots
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Boston fern
Water
Water
Every week
Sunlight
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Full shade
Hardiness Zones
Hardiness Zones
10 to 12
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Questions About Boston fern

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What is the best way to water my Boston fern?
When watering the Boston fern, you should aim to use filtered water that is at room temperature. Filtered water is better for this plant, as tap water can contain particles that are harmful to its health. The reason that the water should be at room temperature or slightly warmer is that the Boston fern comes from a warm environment, and cold water can be somewhat of a shock to its system. Also, you should avoid overhead watering for this plant, as it can cause foliage complications. Instead, simply apply your filtered room temperature water to the soil until the soil is entirely soaked. Soaking the soil can be very beneficial for this plant as it moistens the roots and helps them continue to spread through the soil and collect the nutrients they need.
Read More more
What should I do if I water my Boston fern too much or too little?
Both overwatering and underwatering will be detrimental to the health of your Boston fern, but overwatering is a far more common issue. When this species receives too much water, its stems and leaves may begin to wilt and turn from green to yellow. Overwatering over a prolonged period may also lead to diseases such as root rot, mold, and mildew, all of which can kill your plant. Underwatering is far less common for the Boston fern, as this plant has decent drought tolerance. However, underwatering remains a possibility, and when it occurs, you can expect to find that the leaves of your Boston fern have become brittle and brown. It is crucial that you notice the signs of overwatering as soon as possible when caring for your Boston fern. Some of the diseases that arise from overwatering, such as root rot, may not be correctable if you wait too long. If you see early signs of overwatering, you should reduce your watering schedule immediately. You may also want to assess the quality of soil in which your Boston fern grows. If you find that the soil drains very poorly, you should replace it immediately with a loose, well-draining potting mix. On the other hand, if you find signs that your Boston fern is receiving too little water, all you need to do is water more regularly until those signs have subsided.
Read More more
How often should I water my Boston fern?
If your plant is in a pot. The most precise way to decide whether your Boston fern needs water is to plunge your finger into the soil. If you notice that the first two to three inches of soil have become dry, it is time to add some water. If you grow your Boston fern outdoors in the ground, you can use a similar method to test the soil. Again, when you find that the first few inches of soil have dried out, it is time to add water. During the spring and early fall, this method will often lead you to water this plant about once every week. When extremely hot weather arrives, you may need to increase your watering frequency to about twice or more per week. With that said, mature, well-established the Boston fern can show an admirable ability to withstand drought.
Read More more
How much water does my Boston fern need?
When it comes time to water your Boston fern, you should not be shy about how much water you give. With the first two to three inches of soil dry, this plant will appreciate a long and thorough watering. Supply enough water to soak the soil entirely. The amount of water you add should be enough to cause excess water to flow through the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. If you don’t see excess water draining from the pot, you have likely underwatered your plant. But do not let the water accumulate inside the soil, which will be very dangerous to the plant as well. Alternatively, a lack of water draining through the pot could indicate poorly draining soils, which is detrimental to the health of this plant and should be avoided. If the plant is outside, 1 inch of rain per week will be sufficient.
Read More more
How should I water my Boston fern at different growth stages?
The water needs of the Boston fern can change depending on growth stages as well. For example, when your Boston fern is in the first few years of its life, or if you have just transplanted it to a new growing location, you will need to give more water than usual. During both of those stages, your Boston fern will put a lot of energy towards sprouting new roots that will then support future growth. For those roots to perform their best, they need a bit more moisture than they would at a more mature phase. After a few seasons, your Boston fern will need much less water. Another growth stage in which this plant may need more water is during the bloom period. Flower development can make use of a significant amount of moisture, which is why you might need to give your Boston fern more water at this time.
Read More more
How should I water my Boston fern through the seasons?
The Boston fern will have its highest water needs during the hottest months of the year. During the height of summer, you may need to give this plant water more than once per week, depending on how fast the soil dries out. The opposite is true during the winter. In winter, your plant will enter a dormant phase, in which it will need far less water than usual. In fact, you may not need to water this plant at all during the winter months. However, if you do water during winter, you should not do so more than about once per month. Watering too much at this time will make it more likely that your Boston fern will contract a disease.
Read More more
What's the difference between watering my Boston fern indoors and outdoors?
It is most common to grow the Boston fern indoors for any gardener that does not live in temperate and tropical regions. Those gardeners should consider the fact that soil in a container can dry out a bit faster than ground soil. Also, the presence of drying elements such as air conditioning units can cause your Boston fern to need water on a more frequent basis as well. if you planted it outside. When that is the case, it’s likely you won’t need to water your Boston fern very much at all. If you receive rainfall on a regular basis, that may be enough to keep your plant alive. Alternatively, those who grow this plant inside will need to water it more often, as allowing rainwater to soak the soil will not be an option.
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Key Facts About Boston fern

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Attributes of Boston fern

Lifespan
Perennial
Plant Type
Herb
Planting Time
Late spring, Summer, Fall
Plant Height
0.2 m to 1 m
Leaf Color
Green
Fruit Color
Brown
Black
Stem Color
Green
Brown
Dormancy
Non-dormant
Leaf type
Evergreen
Ideal Temperature
20 - 38 ℃

Trivia and Interesting Facts

Scientific Classification of Boston fern

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Common Pests & Diseases About Boston fern

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Brown spot
Brown spot Brown spot
Brown spot
This infection can cause brown spots or patches to appear on the plant.
Solutions: In minor cases of brown spot, there isn’t any need to treat the disease. However, if much of the foliage is affected and defoliation occurs, the plant will benefit from getting rid of the infection. It is recommended to start by applying organic treatment options, working up to the more potent synthetic, chemical fungicides if necessary. Organic options won’t kill the fungus, but will prevent it from spreading. Dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Using a spray bottle, spray on tops and bottoms of leaves until the mixture drips off. Repeat every two weeks until existing spots stop enlarging and new spots no longer appear. Spray a copper-based fungicidal soap on the leaves, coating the top and bottom leaf surfaces. Reapply as directed on the product label. Copper penetrates the leaf surface and prevents germination of spores so the fungus cannot spread. Apply an all-purpose fungicide to the entire plant, following the label instructions carefully.
Underwatering
Underwatering Underwatering
Underwatering
Leaves may wilt for a variety of reasons.
Solutions: The easiest (and most obvious) way to address underwatering is to fully hydrate the plant. However, this must be done carefully. A common mistake that many gardeners make is to douse their underwatered plants with water. This can overwhelm the roots of the plant and shock its system, something that can be even more damaging than the lack of water to begin with. Instead, water thoroughly and slowly, taking breaks to let the water slowly saturate through the soil to get to the roots. Use room temperature water, as cold water might be too much of a shock. In the future, shorten the time between waterings. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil around each plant daily. If it’s dry to at least two inches down, it’s time to water. If a container plant is repeatedly drying out very quickly, repotting into a slower-draining container might be a good idea, too.
Leaf rot
Leaf rot Leaf rot
Leaf rot
This pathogen can cause the leaves to rot.
Solutions: Bacterial infections need to be treated quickly to prevent the spread to neighboring, healthy plants, potentially wiping out large sections of your indoor or outdoor garden. In mild cases: Use sterilized (10% bleach solution) pruning shears or scissors to remove any infected plant parts, making sure to dispose of them off site. Use a copper-based bactericide to treat the unaffected foliage, as well as the soil, and neighboring plants. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label. In severe cases, where more than half the leaves are affected: Remove all of the infected plants from the garden, disposing of them off site. Treat the soil and neighboring plants using a copper-based bactericide. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label.
Leaf scorch
Leaf scorch Leaf scorch
Leaf scorch
Leaf blight causes leaves to dry out and turn brown starting at their tips.
Solutions: The solution to leaf scorch will depend on the cause, however, in general all cultural care methods that improve plant health and root functionality will reduce symptoms. Mulching the root zone (preferably with wood chip mulch) helps retain moisture, reduce evaporation, and promotes a healthy, functional root environment that is critical for water movement to the leaves. Check the root collar for girdling or circling roots that strangle the trunk and limit water and nutrient movement. Protect trees from severe root damage of nearby construction and excavation. If fertilizer burn is to blame, irrigate the soil deeply to flush out excess fertilizer salts. However, keep in mind that fertilizer runoff is an environmental pollutant. Avoiding excess fertilization in the first place is the best approach. If soil testing has revealed a potassium deficiency, apply a potassium fertilizer and water well. Even if you have enough potassium in the soil, plants will not be able to take it up if the soil is consistently too dry. Severely affected twigs may be removed using a pair of sharp and sanitized pruning shears, as weakened branches are susceptible to secondary infections. If your plant has bacterial leaf scorch, there is no cure. Antibiotic injections applied by a professional can reduce symptoms for a season, however, the above cultural management methods are the best options to reduce symptoms and prolong life. An infected plant will likely die within ten years.
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Brown spot
plant poor
Brown spot
This infection can cause brown spots or patches to appear on the plant.
Overview
Overview
Discolored spots on the foliage of plants are one of the most common disease problems people observe. These spots are caused by fungal and bacterial diseases, with most infections related to a fungal pathogen.
Brown spot can occurs on all houseplants, flowering ornamentals, vegetable plants, and leaves of trees, bushes, and shrubs. No plants are resistant to it, and the problem is worse in warm, wet environments. It can occur at any point in the life stage as long as leaves are present.
Small brownish spots appear on the foliage and enlarge as the disease progresses. In severe cases, the plant or tree is weakened when the lesions interrupt photosynthesis or cause defoliation.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
In most cases, brown spot only affects a small percentage of the whole plant, appearing on a small amount of the leaves. A small infection only puts minor stress on the plant. However, if left untreated and the disease progresses over numerous seasons, it will severely impact the health and productivity of the infected specimen.
  • Sporulation begins (reproduction of the fungal spores), and tiny spots appear on leaves.
  • Placement is often random and scattered as diseases are spread through raindrops.
  • May appear on lower leaves and the interior of the plant where humidity is higher.
  • Brown spots enlarge and grow large enough to touch neighboring spots to form a more prominent blotch.
  • Leaf margins may turn yellow.
  • Tiny black dots (fruiting bodies of the fungi) appear in the dead spots.
  • Blotches grow in size until the entire leaf is brown.
  • The leaf falls off the plant.
Severe Symptoms
  • Partial or complete premature defoliation
  • Reduced growth
  • Increased susceptibility to pests and other diseases
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
Brown spot, or leaf spot, is a common descriptive term given to several diseases affecting the leaves of plants and trees. Around 85% of diseases exhibiting leaf spots are due to fungus or fungus-like organisms. Sometimes brown spot is caused by a bacterial infection, or insect activity with similar symptoms.
When conditions are warm and the leaf surfaces are wet, fungal spores being transported by wind or rain land on the surface and cling to it. They do not rupture the cell walls but grow in the space between the plant plasma membrane and the plant cell wall. As the spores reproduce, they release toxins and enzymes that cause necrotic spots (i.e., dead tissue) on the leaves, allowing the fungi to consume the products released when the cells degrade.
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Underwatering
plant poor
Underwatering
Leaves may wilt for a variety of reasons.
Overview
Overview
Underwatering plants is one of the quickest ways to kill them. This is something that most gardeners are well aware of. Unfortunately, knowing exactly how much water a plant needs can be tricky, especially considering that underwatering and overwatering present similar symptoms in plants.
Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant and attentive to each plants’ individual needs.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
As mentioned earlier, overwatering and underwatering present similar symptoms in plants. These symptoms include poor growth, wilted leaves, defoliation, and brown leaf tips or margins. Ultimately, both underwatering and overwatering can lead to the death of a plant.
The easiest way to determine whether a plant has too much water or too little is to look at the leaves. If underwatering is the culprit, the leaves will look brown and crunchy, while if it’s overwatering, they will appear yellow or a pale green in color.
When this issue first begins, there may be no noticeable symptoms at all, particularly in hardy or drought-tolerant plants. However, they will begin to wilt once they start suffering from a lack of water. The edges of the plant’s leaves will become brown or curled. Soil pulling away from the edges of the planter is a telltale sign, or a crispy, brittle stem.
Prolonged underwatering can cause a plant’s growth to become stunted. The leaves might drop and the plant can be more susceptible to pest infestations, too.
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
Underwatering is caused by, quite simply, not watering plants often or deeply enough. There is a heightened risk of underwatering if any of these situations apply:
  • Extreme heat and dry weather (when growing outdoors)
  • Grow lights or indoor lighting that is too bright or intense for the type of plant
  • Using fast-draining growing media such as sand
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Leaf rot
plant poor
Leaf rot
This pathogen can cause the leaves to rot.
Overview
Overview
Leaf rot is very common among both house plants and garden plants. It affects foliage and occurs mainly when the leaves become wet due to rain or misting by the gardener. The cause is fungal disease and this is facilitated by the fungal spores adhering to wet leaves then penetrating the leaf and expanding rapidly. Damp conditions and poor air circulation will increase chances of infection taking place. Another factor are leaves that are damaged or have been penetrated by sap sucking insects that facilitate plant penetration.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
  1. Spores are able to cling to a damp leaf and penetrate, often through an existing wound.
  2. A small dark brown mark appears which expands rapidly as sporulation starts to take place.
  3. Quite quickly these bull's eye like circles can link together and the whole leaf turns dark and loses texture.
  4. Leaf drop occurs.
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
These symptoms are caused by a bacterial infection invading the plant. Bacteria from many sources in the environment (air, water, soil, diseased plants) enter a plant through wounds, or in some cases the stomata when they are open. Once inside the leaf tissue, the bacteria feed and reproduce quickly, breaking down healthy leaves.
Bacterial infections threaten most plant species, and are more prominent in wet weather that more easily transfers the bacteria from plant to plant, or from soil to plant.
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Leaf scorch
plant poor
Leaf scorch
Leaf blight causes leaves to dry out and turn brown starting at their tips.
Overview
Overview
Leaf scorch refers to two general conditions: physiological leaf scorch and bacterial leaf scorch. It causes leaves to discolor starting along the margins, and eventually die.
Leaf scorch development is most common in the hot, dry season, becoming most noticeable in late summer. However, it can occur at other times of the year. It most often affects young trees and shrubs, but it can also affect flowers, vegetables, and other plants.
Leaf scorch can get progressively worse over multiple seasons. If the root causes are not addressed, leaf scorch can lead to plant death.
While you cannot reverse the damage caused by physiological leaf scorch, you can prevent further damage. With proper management, plants will fully recover. However, there is no cure for bacterial leaf scorch, which is a systemic infection.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
  • Yellow, brown, or blackened leaves starting with the leaf margins
  • Dying twig tips on trees and shrubs as leaves die and fall
  • Often there is a bright yellow border line between the dead and living leaf tissue
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
There are numerous contributing causes of leaf scorch.
Bacterial leaf scorch is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The bacteria block the xylem vessels, preventing water movement. Symptoms may vary across species.
Physiological leaf scorch most commonly occurs when a plant cannot take up enough water. Numerous conditions can lead to this issue, particularly an unhealthy root system. Some causes of an unhealthy root system include overly-compacted soil, recent tillage, root compaction and severing due to pavement or other construction, drought, and overly-saturated soils.
Potassium deficiency can contribute to leaf scorch. Since plants need potassium to move water, they cannot properly move water when there is a lack of potassium.
Too much fertilizer can also cause leaf scorch symptoms. The accumulation of salts (including nutrient salts from fertilizers, as well as salt water) accumulate at the leaf margins and may build up to concentrations that burn the tissues.
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More Info on Boston Fern Growth and Care

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Basic Care Guide
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Transplant
2-3 feet
For a thriving boston fern, relocate it during the warmth and renewal of mid to late spring. This season offers optimal growing conditions. Choose a shady spot with moist, well-draining soil to welcome your boston fern, ensuring it continues to flourish.
Transplant Techniques
Feng shui direction
North
The boston fern is characteristically compatible with spaces facing North due to its green foliage. In Feng Shui, North represents water and career success; therefore, the leaf shape and abundance of the boston fern can, as per some experts, harness vitality and progressive energy for these aspirations. Remember, interpretations of Feng Shui can vary vastly.
Fengshui Details
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Boston fern
Boston fern
Boston fern
Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'
Hardiness Zones
Hardiness Zones
10 to 12
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Care Guide for Boston fern

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Questions About Boston fern

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Watering Watering Watering
Pruning Pruning Pruning
Sunlight Sunlight Sunlight
Fertilizing Fertilizing Fertilizing
What is the best way to water my Boston fern?
more
What should I do if I water my Boston fern too much or too little?
more
How often should I water my Boston fern?
more
How much water does my Boston fern need?
more
How should I water my Boston fern at different growth stages?
more
How should I water my Boston fern through the seasons?
more
What's the difference between watering my Boston fern indoors and outdoors?
more
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Key Facts About Boston fern

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Feedback
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Attributes of Boston fern

Lifespan
Perennial
Plant Type
Herb
Planting Time
Late spring, Summer, Fall
Plant Height
0.2 m to 1 m
Leaf Color
Green
Fruit Color
Brown
Black
Stem Color
Green
Brown
Dormancy
Non-dormant
Leaf type
Evergreen
Ideal Temperature
20 - 38 ℃
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Trivia and Interesting Facts

Scientific Classification of Boston fern

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Common Pests & Diseases About Boston fern

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Common issues for Boston fern based on 10 million real cases
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Brown spot
Brown spot Brown spot Brown spot
This infection can cause brown spots or patches to appear on the plant.
Solutions: In minor cases of brown spot, there isn’t any need to treat the disease. However, if much of the foliage is affected and defoliation occurs, the plant will benefit from getting rid of the infection. It is recommended to start by applying organic treatment options, working up to the more potent synthetic, chemical fungicides if necessary. Organic options won’t kill the fungus, but will prevent it from spreading. Dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Using a spray bottle, spray on tops and bottoms of leaves until the mixture drips off. Repeat every two weeks until existing spots stop enlarging and new spots no longer appear. Spray a copper-based fungicidal soap on the leaves, coating the top and bottom leaf surfaces. Reapply as directed on the product label. Copper penetrates the leaf surface and prevents germination of spores so the fungus cannot spread. Apply an all-purpose fungicide to the entire plant, following the label instructions carefully.
Learn More About the Brown spot more
Underwatering
Underwatering Underwatering Underwatering
Leaves may wilt for a variety of reasons.
Solutions: The easiest (and most obvious) way to address underwatering is to fully hydrate the plant. However, this must be done carefully. A common mistake that many gardeners make is to douse their underwatered plants with water. This can overwhelm the roots of the plant and shock its system, something that can be even more damaging than the lack of water to begin with. Instead, water thoroughly and slowly, taking breaks to let the water slowly saturate through the soil to get to the roots. Use room temperature water, as cold water might be too much of a shock. In the future, shorten the time between waterings. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil around each plant daily. If it’s dry to at least two inches down, it’s time to water. If a container plant is repeatedly drying out very quickly, repotting into a slower-draining container might be a good idea, too.
Learn More About the Underwatering more
Leaf rot
Leaf rot Leaf rot Leaf rot
This pathogen can cause the leaves to rot.
Solutions: Bacterial infections need to be treated quickly to prevent the spread to neighboring, healthy plants, potentially wiping out large sections of your indoor or outdoor garden. In mild cases: Use sterilized (10% bleach solution) pruning shears or scissors to remove any infected plant parts, making sure to dispose of them off site. Use a copper-based bactericide to treat the unaffected foliage, as well as the soil, and neighboring plants. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label. In severe cases, where more than half the leaves are affected: Remove all of the infected plants from the garden, disposing of them off site. Treat the soil and neighboring plants using a copper-based bactericide. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label.
Learn More About the Leaf rot more
Leaf scorch
Leaf scorch Leaf scorch Leaf scorch
Leaf blight causes leaves to dry out and turn brown starting at their tips.
Solutions: The solution to leaf scorch will depend on the cause, however, in general all cultural care methods that improve plant health and root functionality will reduce symptoms. Mulching the root zone (preferably with wood chip mulch) helps retain moisture, reduce evaporation, and promotes a healthy, functional root environment that is critical for water movement to the leaves. Check the root collar for girdling or circling roots that strangle the trunk and limit water and nutrient movement. Protect trees from severe root damage of nearby construction and excavation. If fertilizer burn is to blame, irrigate the soil deeply to flush out excess fertilizer salts. However, keep in mind that fertilizer runoff is an environmental pollutant. Avoiding excess fertilization in the first place is the best approach. If soil testing has revealed a potassium deficiency, apply a potassium fertilizer and water well. Even if you have enough potassium in the soil, plants will not be able to take it up if the soil is consistently too dry. Severely affected twigs may be removed using a pair of sharp and sanitized pruning shears, as weakened branches are susceptible to secondary infections. If your plant has bacterial leaf scorch, there is no cure. Antibiotic injections applied by a professional can reduce symptoms for a season, however, the above cultural management methods are the best options to reduce symptoms and prolong life. An infected plant will likely die within ten years.
Learn More About the Leaf scorch more
close
Brown spot
plant poor
Brown spot
This infection can cause brown spots or patches to appear on the plant.
Overview
Overview
Discolored spots on the foliage of plants are one of the most common disease problems people observe. These spots are caused by fungal and bacterial diseases, with most infections related to a fungal pathogen.
Brown spot can occurs on all houseplants, flowering ornamentals, vegetable plants, and leaves of trees, bushes, and shrubs. No plants are resistant to it, and the problem is worse in warm, wet environments. It can occur at any point in the life stage as long as leaves are present.
Small brownish spots appear on the foliage and enlarge as the disease progresses. In severe cases, the plant or tree is weakened when the lesions interrupt photosynthesis or cause defoliation.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
In most cases, brown spot only affects a small percentage of the whole plant, appearing on a small amount of the leaves. A small infection only puts minor stress on the plant. However, if left untreated and the disease progresses over numerous seasons, it will severely impact the health and productivity of the infected specimen.
  • Sporulation begins (reproduction of the fungal spores), and tiny spots appear on leaves.
  • Placement is often random and scattered as diseases are spread through raindrops.
  • May appear on lower leaves and the interior of the plant where humidity is higher.
  • Brown spots enlarge and grow large enough to touch neighboring spots to form a more prominent blotch.
  • Leaf margins may turn yellow.
  • Tiny black dots (fruiting bodies of the fungi) appear in the dead spots.
  • Blotches grow in size until the entire leaf is brown.
  • The leaf falls off the plant.
Severe Symptoms
  • Partial or complete premature defoliation
  • Reduced growth
  • Increased susceptibility to pests and other diseases
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
Brown spot, or leaf spot, is a common descriptive term given to several diseases affecting the leaves of plants and trees. Around 85% of diseases exhibiting leaf spots are due to fungus or fungus-like organisms. Sometimes brown spot is caused by a bacterial infection, or insect activity with similar symptoms.
When conditions are warm and the leaf surfaces are wet, fungal spores being transported by wind or rain land on the surface and cling to it. They do not rupture the cell walls but grow in the space between the plant plasma membrane and the plant cell wall. As the spores reproduce, they release toxins and enzymes that cause necrotic spots (i.e., dead tissue) on the leaves, allowing the fungi to consume the products released when the cells degrade.
Solutions
Solutions
In minor cases of brown spot, there isn’t any need to treat the disease. However, if much of the foliage is affected and defoliation occurs, the plant will benefit from getting rid of the infection. It is recommended to start by applying organic treatment options, working up to the more potent synthetic, chemical fungicides if necessary.
Organic options won’t kill the fungus, but will prevent it from spreading.
  1. Dissolve ½ teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Using a spray bottle, spray on tops and bottoms of leaves until the mixture drips off. Repeat every two weeks until existing spots stop enlarging and new spots no longer appear.
  2. Spray a copper-based fungicidal soap on the leaves, coating the top and bottom leaf surfaces. Reapply as directed on the product label. Copper penetrates the leaf surface and prevents germination of spores so the fungus cannot spread.
  3. Apply an all-purpose fungicide to the entire plant, following the label instructions carefully.
Prevention
Prevention
Like many other diseases, it is easier to prevent brown spot than cure it, and this is done through cultural practices.
  • Clear fall leaves from the ground before winter to minimize places where fungi and bacteria can overwinter.
  • Maintain good air movement between plants through proper plant spacing.
  • Increase air circulation through the center of plants through pruning.
  • Thoroughly clean all pruning tools after working with diseased plants.
  • Never dispose of disease plant material in a compost pile.
  • Avoid overhead watering to keep moisture off of the foliage.
  • Keep plants healthy by providing adequate sunlight, water, and fertilizer.
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Underwatering
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Underwatering
Leaves may wilt for a variety of reasons.
Overview
Overview
Underwatering plants is one of the quickest ways to kill them. This is something that most gardeners are well aware of. Unfortunately, knowing exactly how much water a plant needs can be tricky, especially considering that underwatering and overwatering present similar symptoms in plants.
Therefore, it’s important to be vigilant and attentive to each plants’ individual needs.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
As mentioned earlier, overwatering and underwatering present similar symptoms in plants. These symptoms include poor growth, wilted leaves, defoliation, and brown leaf tips or margins. Ultimately, both underwatering and overwatering can lead to the death of a plant.
The easiest way to determine whether a plant has too much water or too little is to look at the leaves. If underwatering is the culprit, the leaves will look brown and crunchy, while if it’s overwatering, they will appear yellow or a pale green in color.
When this issue first begins, there may be no noticeable symptoms at all, particularly in hardy or drought-tolerant plants. However, they will begin to wilt once they start suffering from a lack of water. The edges of the plant’s leaves will become brown or curled. Soil pulling away from the edges of the planter is a telltale sign, or a crispy, brittle stem.
Prolonged underwatering can cause a plant’s growth to become stunted. The leaves might drop and the plant can be more susceptible to pest infestations, too.
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
Underwatering is caused by, quite simply, not watering plants often or deeply enough. There is a heightened risk of underwatering if any of these situations apply:
  • Extreme heat and dry weather (when growing outdoors)
  • Grow lights or indoor lighting that is too bright or intense for the type of plant
  • Using fast-draining growing media such as sand
Solutions
Solutions
The easiest (and most obvious) way to address underwatering is to fully hydrate the plant. However, this must be done carefully. A common mistake that many gardeners make is to douse their underwatered plants with water. This can overwhelm the roots of the plant and shock its system, something that can be even more damaging than the lack of water to begin with.
Instead, water thoroughly and slowly, taking breaks to let the water slowly saturate through the soil to get to the roots. Use room temperature water, as cold water might be too much of a shock.
In the future, shorten the time between waterings. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil around each plant daily. If it’s dry to at least two inches down, it’s time to water. If a container plant is repeatedly drying out very quickly, repotting into a slower-draining container might be a good idea, too.
Prevention
Prevention
Always check the soil before watering. If the top inch of soil feels moist, though not wet, the watering is perfect. If it’s dry, water it immediately. If it feels soggy, you avoid watering until it dries out a bit more.
Also, make sure the lighting is sufficient for the species. Plants grow faster and need more water when there is intense light or lots of heat. Being aware of these conditions and modifying them, if possible, is a good way to prevent underwatering. Many container plants are potted in soil mixtures mean to be well-draining. Adding materials that retain moisture, like compost or peat moss, can also prevent these symptoms.
Other tips to prevent underwatering include:
  • Choose pots with adequately-sized drainage holes
  • Avoid warm temperatures
  • Use large pots with additional soil (these take longer to dry out)
  • Avoid terracotta pots, which lose water quickly
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Leaf rot
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Leaf rot
This pathogen can cause the leaves to rot.
Overview
Overview
Leaf rot is very common among both house plants and garden plants. It affects foliage and occurs mainly when the leaves become wet due to rain or misting by the gardener. The cause is fungal disease and this is facilitated by the fungal spores adhering to wet leaves then penetrating the leaf and expanding rapidly. Damp conditions and poor air circulation will increase chances of infection taking place. Another factor are leaves that are damaged or have been penetrated by sap sucking insects that facilitate plant penetration.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
  1. Spores are able to cling to a damp leaf and penetrate, often through an existing wound.
  2. A small dark brown mark appears which expands rapidly as sporulation starts to take place.
  3. Quite quickly these bull's eye like circles can link together and the whole leaf turns dark and loses texture.
  4. Leaf drop occurs.
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
These symptoms are caused by a bacterial infection invading the plant. Bacteria from many sources in the environment (air, water, soil, diseased plants) enter a plant through wounds, or in some cases the stomata when they are open. Once inside the leaf tissue, the bacteria feed and reproduce quickly, breaking down healthy leaves.
Bacterial infections threaten most plant species, and are more prominent in wet weather that more easily transfers the bacteria from plant to plant, or from soil to plant.
Solutions
Solutions
Bacterial infections need to be treated quickly to prevent the spread to neighboring, healthy plants, potentially wiping out large sections of your indoor or outdoor garden.
In mild cases: Use sterilized (10% bleach solution) pruning shears or scissors to remove any infected plant parts, making sure to dispose of them off site. Use a copper-based bactericide to treat the unaffected foliage, as well as the soil, and neighboring plants. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label.
In severe cases, where more than half the leaves are affected: Remove all of the infected plants from the garden, disposing of them off site. Treat the soil and neighboring plants using a copper-based bactericide. Follow the manufacturer’s rate and timing directions found on the product label.
Prevention
Prevention
  1. Clean up garden debris at the end of the season, especially if it contains any diseased plant tissue. Diseases can overwinter from season to season and infect new plants.
  2. Avoid overhead watering to prevent transferring pathogens from one plant to another, and to keep foliage dry.
  3. Mulch around the base of plants to prevent soil-borne bacteria from splashing up onto uninfected plants.
  4. Sterilize cutting tools using a 10% bleach solution when gardening and moving from one plant to another.
  5. Do not work in your garden when it is wet.
  6. Rotate crops to prevent the buildup of bacteria in one site due to continuous cropping.
  7. Use a copper or streptomycin-containing bactericide in early spring to prevent infection. Read label directions carefully as they are not suitable for all plants.
  8. Ensure plants are well spaced and thin leaves on densely leaved plants so that air circulation is maximised.
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Leaf scorch
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Leaf scorch
Leaf blight causes leaves to dry out and turn brown starting at their tips.
Overview
Overview
Leaf scorch refers to two general conditions: physiological leaf scorch and bacterial leaf scorch. It causes leaves to discolor starting along the margins, and eventually die.
Leaf scorch development is most common in the hot, dry season, becoming most noticeable in late summer. However, it can occur at other times of the year. It most often affects young trees and shrubs, but it can also affect flowers, vegetables, and other plants.
Leaf scorch can get progressively worse over multiple seasons. If the root causes are not addressed, leaf scorch can lead to plant death.
While you cannot reverse the damage caused by physiological leaf scorch, you can prevent further damage. With proper management, plants will fully recover. However, there is no cure for bacterial leaf scorch, which is a systemic infection.
Symptom Analysis
Symptom Analysis
  • Yellow, brown, or blackened leaves starting with the leaf margins
  • Dying twig tips on trees and shrubs as leaves die and fall
  • Often there is a bright yellow border line between the dead and living leaf tissue
Disease Cause
Disease Cause
There are numerous contributing causes of leaf scorch.
Bacterial leaf scorch is caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. The bacteria block the xylem vessels, preventing water movement. Symptoms may vary across species.
Physiological leaf scorch most commonly occurs when a plant cannot take up enough water. Numerous conditions can lead to this issue, particularly an unhealthy root system. Some causes of an unhealthy root system include overly-compacted soil, recent tillage, root compaction and severing due to pavement or other construction, drought, and overly-saturated soils.
Potassium deficiency can contribute to leaf scorch. Since plants need potassium to move water, they cannot properly move water when there is a lack of potassium.
Too much fertilizer can also cause leaf scorch symptoms. The accumulation of salts (including nutrient salts from fertilizers, as well as salt water) accumulate at the leaf margins and may build up to concentrations that burn the tissues.
Solutions
Solutions
The solution to leaf scorch will depend on the cause, however, in general all cultural care methods that improve plant health and root functionality will reduce symptoms.
  • Mulching the root zone (preferably with wood chip mulch) helps retain moisture, reduce evaporation, and promotes a healthy, functional root environment that is critical for water movement to the leaves.
  • Check the root collar for girdling or circling roots that strangle the trunk and limit water and nutrient movement.
  • Protect trees from severe root damage of nearby construction and excavation.
  • If fertilizer burn is to blame, irrigate the soil deeply to flush out excess fertilizer salts. However, keep in mind that fertilizer runoff is an environmental pollutant. Avoiding excess fertilization in the first place is the best approach.
  • If soil testing has revealed a potassium deficiency, apply a potassium fertilizer and water well. Even if you have enough potassium in the soil, plants will not be able to take it up if the soil is consistently too dry.
  • Severely affected twigs may be removed using a pair of sharp and sanitized pruning shears, as weakened branches are susceptible to secondary infections.
  • If your plant has bacterial leaf scorch, there is no cure. Antibiotic injections applied by a professional can reduce symptoms for a season, however, the above cultural management methods are the best options to reduce symptoms and prolong life. An infected plant will likely die within ten years.
Prevention
Prevention
  • Physiological leaf scorch is best avoided by making sure your plants have a healthy, functional root system and access to enough water. Water regularly, especially on the mornings of excessively hot, sunny days. Deep, infrequent irrigation is better than shallow, frequent irrigation.
  • Have your soil tested and apply the proper nutrients. Be sure to not over-apply fertilizers.
  • Make sure your plants’ roots have room to expand. Avoid compacted soil as well and avoid paving areas above the root zone. Do not till or disturb the soil where plant roots are growing.
  • Plant new trees and shrubs in the fall, so that they have the maximum amount of time to become established before the environmental stresses of the next summer.
  • Remove any dead or dying plant tissue that may harbor secondary infections.
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