One of the things that we love most about living in the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest is the biodiversity it supports. The moderate temperatures and generous rainfall mean that we can fill our landscapes with various beautiful plants that thrive few other places in the world.
Unfortunately, the same environmental factors that make Oregon the perfect place for our plants can also lead to robust populations of diseases, fungi, and insects that feed or parasitize on those plants. While many fungi and insects are beneficial–even necessary–some can result in declining health or even the death of the trees and shrubs throughout our landscapes.
Landscape Diseases to Look Out for in the Winter
During the wet winter and spring months, diseases like needle cast, phytophthora, and laminated root rot are readily able to propagate. This leads to browning or distortion of foliage on conifers and hidden signs of decline in broadleaf plants that may not be noticed until they leaf out for the season. Wet weather also allows fungal pathogens like anthracnose, verticillium wilt, and shot hole to mature, create spores, and spread. As these fungi move through a plant, they slowly break down its essential biological functions causing damage to the foliage, wood, and roots.
Plant and Landscape Damage to Look Out for in the Spring
Once the winter weather has subsided, and warmer temperatures become more common, you’ll notice a shift in what’s causing damage to your trees and shrubs. The larvae of insects that have been over-wintering on your landscape begin to emerge and, when they do, they’re hungry. Insects like aphids, mites, scales, adelgids, and certain beetles impact a broad spectrum of flora during their lifecycle–each leaving its own unique signature trail of damage.
Without extensive training, knowing what’s causing a plant to decline can be challenging, especially during the winter months or early stages of an infection or infestation. With proper soil composition, watering, nutrients, and light, most healthy plants have natural mechanisms that help fight off diseases and pests without human intervention. But, when plants become stressed or are in a non-native environment, action may need to be taken to mitigate the impact of diseases, fungi, or insects. Additionally, invasive species and shifts in the climate have furthered the need for human intervention.
How We Use Integrated Pest Management for Prevention of Plant Disease
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is the industry term for an ecosystem-based strategy focusing on long-term damage prevention from diseases, fungi, and insects. There are many components of IPM including: the targeted use of chemicals, the introduction of beneficial insects, and strategic landscape design/management, to name a few.
If you feel that your trees or shrubs may be struggling with a disease or insect infestation, the best step is to consult an expert with knowledge of the IPM best practices. At General Tree Service, we are deeply invested in a policy of continuing education–striving to keep up to date on the most current methods of analysis and mitigation so that we can best help you maintain a beautiful landscape. Give us a call at 503-656-2656