What's wrong with that plant?

Many organisms, including viruses, fungi and bacteria, can cause diseases.

Diseases can be specific to certain plants, but identifying them can still be extremely difficult. Often, home gardeners mistake environmental or maintenance problems for diseases. For example, Spanish moss, lichens, and ball moss are not parasites that should be killed or removed; they are merely harmless plants themselves. Another common misdiagnosis in coastal areas is mistaking saltwater damage for disease. Irrigating plants with salty well water can cause yellowing around the edges of leaves and leaf-drop starting from the bottom part of the plant's canopy.

When a plant does have a disease, the problem may be merely cosmetic rather than truly damaging to the plant. Examples are minor leaf spots or other damage to select leaves. Such minor aesthetic concerns are no cause for alarm or treatment. There are serious diseases, however, that can damage or kill plants they affect. Examples are mushroom root rot on landscape plants, sabal palm disease, and take-all root rot on turf. Such diseases can seriously damage the plant's appearance or growth.

Lynda Penry comes to the rescue with a lecture that will help solve the plant disease mystery.

Destin Garden Club will have Penry as guest speaker at the meeting at 9:15 a.m. June 12 at the Destin Library, 150 Sibert Ave. She is an Okaloosa Master Gardener and a retired educator. As an educator, Penry is a life-long learner, so becoming a master gardener filled the need to continue learning. She is president of Garnier Beach Garden Club and is involved with many other organizations.

The Destin Garden Club is dedicated to enriching their membership and public with gardening awareness and education. For those who wish to join the club, membership is available for $35 a year. The membership entitles members to special hands-on workshops, bus tours/trips and members luncheons. Members also help maintain the beautiful Destin Library grounds as they work the third Tuesday of each month in six different flower beds.

For questions, call Velda at 660-341-8900.