Plan Now for Garden and Flower Bed Sanitation

February 28, 2022

Gail Ruhl, Senior Plant Disease Diagnostician-retired,  Purdue University

When there is little snowcover, plant debris left in flower beds and gardens is more noticeable.  If your peony plants or daylilies are in disarray from a lack of time last Fall to remove the old, dead, diseased, plant material, now is the time to plan for springtime sanitation. You can protect the new shoots that will emerge this spring from the fungal diseases that caused spots, blotches and streaks on the leaves of your plants last year. 

Sanitation (removal of diseased plant material) is key to reducing the amount of disease build-up and carryover to plants the following growing season.  Fungi wait in a dormant state until the following spring when rains and warmer weather induce the production of spores which are then disseminated by wind and water to infect plants during the growing season. Sanitation is one of the most important methods of maintaining healthy plants.  

 Your springtime sanitation regimen for flower beds and gardens should include the following:

  • Remove dried, diseased, mummified fruits or vegetables and diseased flower heads and stalks from the gardening area 
  • Remove fallen, diseased, leaves to remove fungi that have overwintered

In reality, for the best results, sanitation should be a year round process. Removal of infected leaves and flowers, as well as infected berries, vegetables and diseased fruit, as soon as problems are diagnosed, will ultimately reduce the spread of disease and provide for a healthier garden/landscape environs.

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