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Posts Tagged ‘Foliar Nematodes’

Killing diseases on your garden tools

Garden tools and plants are expensive.   It is important you take care of both and try not to get plant materials that are infected in your garden in the first place!

One of the most, if not the most famous botanist in the world regarding shade perennials and in particular hostas is W. George Schmid.    He has authored such scholarly books as, “The Genus Hosta” and “Encyclopedia of Shade Perennials” and is a frequent contributor to “The Hosta Journal” and other scholarly works.    I asked George recently if he had seen any studies regarding how long to disinfect garden tools, which is increasingly important to prevent the spread of foliar nematodes and other garden diseases.   Here is what George wrote:

“To really disinfect your equipment, it must be very thorough. Brand new tools you can dip, but most of have those old, well used tools.  For those, use 1 part chlorine bleach to 10 part clean water solution.  It is important to wash the dirt off your equipment prior to soaking your equipment in this solution for at least 10 minutes to ensure that all microbial agents are killed.

Soaking in either a 1-to-5 solution of chlorine bleach or a full-strength Lysol or Pine-Sol brought the most consistent protection, as shown in tests conducted by UGA.  Just dipping the blade quickly often did not disinfect properly.  Chlorine bleach generally did a better job for quick dips, although none of the disinfectants proved 100% effective when using quick dips.  So soaking is recommended in all cases.  Tools have sometimes microscopic scratches that can contain air bubbles, which will prevent contact with the solution.  Soaking overnight is most effective.

Although chlorine bleach is the least expensive and generally most effective disinfectant, bleach does corrode tools when used frequently.  It also can splash up and ruin clothes. Lysol caused the least damage to clothes and tools.”

Tom Carlson, owner of this blog and of HostasDirect and IDealGardenMarker adds, “If you leave your tools in these solutions too long you will get corrosion, and possibly lots of corrosion.   So, the trick is to soak as long as needed but not much more.    Then, wash the tools with water and wipe it dry or let it air dry.   Plain water will rust tools very fast as well.    There is one preventative solution.   I know this sounds like a commercial but we have found our plated Hosta Trowels that we sell on our web site do not corrode and they work fantastic for any type of gardening – in particular hostas.    The plating keep any steel from being exposed to the chemicals or water.


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Are Foliar Nematodes (Aphelenchoides fragariae) ruining your Hostas?

These pervasive microscopic worms can greatly disfigure a hosta.   Here is a short summary.

Foliar nematodes create brown streaks in your hosta leaves.   When these symptoms appear depends on your growing zone.  (It’s usually August in Minnesota.)  Although they may live in your hosta year round, the symptoms appear when these microscopic worms have amassed a large enough quantity in your hostas to begin to damage the leaves.  They are prolific egg layers and almost impossible to kill. One of the reasons for the increasing numbers of nematodes the past few years is because a few years ago the toxic chemicals that could kill these annoying worms were outlawed. I have read these same Aphelenchoides fragariae live in about 250 species of plants.

Foliar nematodes can be detected using a magnifying glass.  You can have foliar nematodes for a long time but not even know it as their symptoms have not appeared.  Thus, it is possible to share,  sell or buy infected plants without even knowing it.

What can you do to prevent foliar nematodes?

Purchase our Starter TC  or Advanced Starter disease free hostas.   These plants are grown in tissue culture plant laboratories and are tested for viruses and nematodes before going into mass production.   Most of these plants we sell in our business never even touch the ground.

How can foliar nematodes spread?

They travel via water.  If you have hostas infected with foliar nematodes at the top of a slope, you will likely find hostas in the “fall line” below the infected hosta as the nematodes traveled via water to the plants below!

Nematodes can be spread via non-sterilized garden tools that have nematodes on them.   It is important to disinfect all garden tools after each cut.   In particular, each cut if you suspect nematodes are a problem.

I sadly learned from two government disease experts that nematodes can be spread via animals such as pets, rodents, and even birds.   That is another reason why it is close to impossible to guarantee that anything grown in the ground does not have foliar nematodes.   One garden affected can spread foliar nematodes long distances in more ways than we think, so you need to be wary of where you get your plants.

As mentioned, the same foliar nematodes in hostas are appearing on 250 different species of plants now.   Some government plant disease officials told me they felt the many sources of supply of non-regulated plants sold on the internet are causing plant diseases to spread more rapidly.   Again, many people do not even know the nematodes are in their plants.

Pictures and information on foliar nematodes


HostasDirect on Hosta Diseases

University of Minnesota on Foliar Nematodes

The Hosta Library on Nematodes

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