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Rust in the flower garden

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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 on sunflower that can be seen on leaves, sepals and other green plant parts

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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