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Diseases in plants can come from many sources, including bacteria, viruses, mold, poor environmental conditions, and inadequate feeding. Even professional plant pathologists who spend every day diagnosing plant problems often have trouble figuring out what's wrong with a plant. So, if you think your plant is sick, but you're at a loss as to what to do, at least know you're not alone. The best you can do for your plant is pay attention to the signals it's giving you - and use the diagnostic charts to narrow down the possibilities.

Some basic rules of thumb for preventing diseases are:

  • Check plants carefully before you buy them to make sure they are healthy.

  • Give plants enough breathing room to avoid moist conditions that encourage molds and other diseases.

  • Water in the morning, and avoid getting foliage wet.

  • Cut off diseased parts of plants to prevent spread.

  • Keep sick plants away from other plants.

  • Buy plants resistant to whatever virus or other pathogen is common to your area.

  • Sterilize all containers before you use them.

  • Throw out old soil if you are re-using containers.

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