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Penstemon (Penstemon)

Penstemon (Penstemon)

Plant Health Problems

See Perennials for a detailed discussion of problems that may occur and are common to most herbaceous ornamentals.

Diseases caused by Fungi:

Leaf spots, Cercospora, or Septoria spp.
Leaf spots are very common, typically sharply delimited necrotic areas on plant leaves caused by a wide variety of pathogenic species. Leaf spots usually are favored by wet conditions and may become important if a large number of lesions are present or if they start to coalesce.

Under those conditions, control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are thiophanate-methyl and sulfur. Consult the label for dosage rates and safety precautions.

Powdery mildew, Erysiphe spp.
These fungi are obligate plant parasites which grow vegetatively on the plant leaf surface, sending haustoria, structures which absorb food from the host, into epidermal cells. The white mildew seen on the leaf is a combination of vegetative mycelium and spores borne in chains on upright conidiophores. Wind-dispersed mildew spores can germinate without free water under high humidity conditions, and disease is often severe when conditions are humid but dry. Small black over-wintering structures called perithecia are often found in powdery mildew affected areas.

Control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are potassium bicarbonate, ultra fine oil, sulfur, triadimefon, or thiophanate-methyl fungicides. Consult the label for dosage rates, safety precautions, and directions for use.

Rust, Puccinia spp. (monoecious and heteroecious).
The term rust refers to both the disease and pathogen causing the disease. Rust fungi are specialized obligate parasites which can cause disease on one (monoecious) or two (heteroecious) host species. Symptoms of rust infection include rust-colored spores or gelatinous horns in powdery pustules on leaves or stems. Surrounding tissue is discolored and yellowed, and plants are often stunted.

Control of heteroecious rusts may be aided by removal of the alternate host, but for most perennials, control may also be achieved with the use of fungicides applied as soon as symptoms are visible. Among the compounds registered for use in Connecticut are sulfur, and mancozeb. Consult the label for dosage rates, safety precautions, and directions for use.

Stem rot, Sclerotium rolfsii.
Symptoms include yellowing of lower leaves followed by wilting and death of the rest of the plant. A white cottony mass of mycelium growing around the crown or on the soil near the crown distinguishes this crown rot from others. In this fungus web may be found the whitish to cream color or buff or reddish-brown seed-like sclerotia the size of a pinhead.

Control may include removing and destroying all infected plant parts and removal of top soil around the plant. New soil may replace sclerotia-filled soil.

Diseases caused by Nematodes:

Foliar, stem, or bulb nematodes, Ditylenchus spp.
These plant parasitic worms attack virtually all plant parts and may cause leaf lesions, yellowing, necrosis and leaf drop, bud malformation, plant stunting, stem swelling or galls, and secondary fungal infections of necrotic tissues. The nematodes live and move in water films.

Reducing leaf moisture and removal of infected tissues, debris or plants is important. Bulbs may be heat-treated to kill nematodes, but time and temperature combinations vary considerably between plant and nematode species.

Insect Problems:

See Perennials.