Garden News: Defeating plant pests begins with diagnosis

A wide variety of pests can damage plants or cause problems in our landscapes. They include insects, mites, fungi, bacteria, nematodes and a whole host of weeds.

If you have a plant or plants that constantly seem to be under attack despite your best efforts, consider replacing them with plants you have found to require less care.

Regardless of our effort, we will likely have to deal with pest problems at times, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. Plant pathogens, such as fungi, bacteria and nematodes, cause diseases. Insects and mites feed on trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. Weeds compete for space, sunlight and nutrients. Even too much rain or drought can contribute to plant health problems.

When problems arise, accurate and rapid diagnosis is critical for selecting the best management practices. Unfortunately, diagnosing the cause of problems is not always easy for the average gardener.

That’s where the LSU AgCenter can help. Every parish AgCenter extension office has agents who can help you identify weeds, insects or disease problems and recommend solutions.

If further analysis or help is needed, the agent may recommend collecting and submitting samples to the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center, which can diagnose and identify plant diseases, insects, mites and nematodes and weeds.

Raj Singh, the “Plant Doctor” at the Plant Diagnostic Center, can help solve your problems with unhealthy plants. For more information, email Singh at rsingh@agcenter.lsu.edu or call (225) 578-4562 or visit lsuagcenter.com/PlantDiagnostics.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.