Inspirations

May 28, 2006|By SUSAN REIMER | SUSAN REIMER,SUN REPORTER

GARDENING FIND

MUMZ THE WORD

Common fungi are all too common during hot, humid Maryland summers. You know them as mildew on phlox and bee balm, black spot on roses and rust on hollyhocks. Fungal diseases ruin our tomato crops and disfigure our black-eyed Susans.

Broad spectrum fungicides are one answer. But if you are concerned about the long-term and environmental impact of these products, Fine Gardening magazine offers these holistic tips.

Choose plants wisely. Many zinnias, garden phloxes, roses, crabapples and bee balms now have disease-resistant cultivars.

Adopt sound garden practices. Properly site and space susceptible plants to give them good air circulation. Routinely disinfect saws, pruning shears and other gardening tools, using isopropyl alcohol. Remove any sick plants, and build and maintain healthy soil. l Limit spore germination. Fungal spores like hot, humid and calm conditions. They are disseminated by watering and by wind, so water early in the day, mulch garden beds and don't work in the garden when conditions favorable to fungi are present.

Tidy up in fall. Conduct a thorough cleanup of fallen leaves, being mindful not to compost infected vegetation.

Perhaps the best advice from author Brad Roeller is this: If you see fungal damage, it is already too late to save that foliage. So it is best to begin a preventive program in spring.

[Susan Reimer]

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The Inspirations page rotates among four weekly themes: fashion, gardening, home decor and body. Send suggestions to harry.merritt@baltsun.com.

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