Tips for Managing Phytopthora Root Rot

I’ve got some exciting tips for you today, all about the notorious Phytopthora root rot disease. You may have heard of it before, as it has been wreaking havoc on plants in the area, particularly Bottlebrush and Japanese Blueberry. But don’t worry, I’m here to simplify things and give you practical advice without all the boring scientific jargon!

What is Phytopthora Root Rot?

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Phytopthora is a root rot disease that can be triggered by a combination of wetter-than-normal fall weather and a wetter-than-normal January/February, following freezing temperatures in early January. This disease has earned quite a reputation for decimating Japanese Boxwoods too.

Management Techniques

After consulting with plant disease experts at Texas A&M and learning from experienced professionals like Bob Patterson at Southwest Fertilizer, I can confidently share some effective strategies to combat Phytopthora root rot.

1. Soil Drenching

The most crucial step is to perform a soil drench with a systemic fungicide. One reliable choice is the Garden Phos Systemic Fungicide from Monterey (also known as Agri Fos). This application targets the roots directly, effectively combating the Phytopthora disease. However, if you can’t find this specific product, don’t worry. You can replace it with Captan for the soil drench and any liquid systemic fungicide for the foliar spray.

2. Regular Application

Remember, one application is not enough. To ensure the best results, it’s important to repeat the soil drench and foliar spray on a monthly basis until you start seeing healthy new growth free from the ravages of Phytopthora.

3. Prepare the Soil

Before applying the fungicide, take some precautions suggested by Bob Patterson. Gently pull back the mulch surrounding the plants at the base. If possible, use a spading fork to create holes in the soil, about 4-6 inches deep. This will allow the liquid drench to penetrate deeper into the root zone, addressing the root of the problem – where the Phytopthora thrives.

4. Post-Treatment Care

Even if some plants have already succumbed to root rot, it’s important to treat the area before considering any replanting. After removing the dead plants, apply the recommended treatment to the soil. This proactive step will ensure the best conditions for your new plants, preventing the recurrence of Phytopthora root rot.

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Remember, by taking prompt action and following these tips, you can effectively manage and prevent Phytopthora root rot. Keep your plants healthy and vibrant for years to come!

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