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Rust in the flower garden

Quick facts

  • Before buying plants, look closely at the inner and lower leaves.
  • Don’t buy plants that have yellow, orange or red spots.
  • Look for rust resistant varieties in seed catalogs, on seed packages, and on plant labels.
  • A little spotting on the leaves will not significantly affect the health and growth of the plant.
  • Pinch off rust infected leaves and remove them from the garden.
  • Do not remove more than 1/3 of the plant’s leaves at any one time.
  • Rust is caused by a fungus that needs water on the surface of leaves to start growing, so reduce moisture on plant leaves by watering at the base of the plant.

Rust is a common fungal disease of many different plants in the flower garden. The bright red, orange, yellow, and brown colors of this disease often draw attention and can detract from a plant’s appearance.

The disease rarely does significant damage to the health of the plant. On rare occasions, a highly susceptible plant may suffer severe damage due to rust. These plants should be replaced with less susceptible plants.

Managing rust in the flower garden

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How to know if you have rust on your plants

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Michelle Grabowski, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2018

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