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As its name suggests garden rust is characterised by rust coloured spots and irregular discolouration on a plants leaves and stems. Rusts are fungal garden diseases and there are many different species affecting a variety of garden and greenhouse plants.

How to spot
Look at the infected foliage closely and you’ll see dark orange, brown, yellow or red spots or pustules on the undersides of the leaves. These pustules spread to all areas of foliage and sometimes down the stem. The infection can develop very quickly in the right environment and spores will only germinate on wet leaves.

To complicate matters most garden rust cycles have a latent period, which means the plant can be infected without showing any symptoms.

How to treat
Remove any infected leaves immediately. Don’t leave the fallen leaves on top of the soil and make sure you collect and remove all of the fallen diseased leaves before they start to decompose. As is the case with many garden diseases, do not compost infected plants.

The garden rust spores spread through the air so separate infected plants from healthy ones to avoid contamination. Water in the early morning so the plants have a chance to dry out during the day and water from the base. You don’t want to water from overhead, as this will cause the spores to be carried back up to the plant by splashing water.

Prevent plant rust by keeping greenhouses well ventilated and by pruning and thinning plants. Finally, you can use a sulphur-based fungicide but always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.

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