Garden Pests and Plant Diseases

Many garden pests and plant diseases can cause real problems for gardeners. They pose a serious threat to maintaining a healthy garden if not appropriately controlled.

This section of the Gardenzy website is an excellent resource for learning more about these threats. Our experts have compiled guides on several pests and diseases, featuring everything you need to know about each one.

You can find our directory of these guides below. We also provide some basic information about garden pests and plant diseases in general. 

How Pests and Diseases Can Damage Your Garden

Garden pests and plant diseases can cause many problems. Some will damage or even destroy specific plants, while others can affect your garden as a whole. Indoor gardening is not safe, either, as houseplants can also be susceptible to pests and diseases.

The exact problems you are likely to encounter depends on several factors. Here are some of the most common issues.

  • Stunted growth
  • Discoloring
  • Wilting leaves
  • Holes in leaves
  • Missing or damaged fruit
  • Reduced harvest
  • Ruined lawns

There are many other possible problems, too. You don’t need to be aware of them all, but it is important to understand just how bad the impact of pests and diseases can be. No matter how big your garden or how many plants you’re growing, this is a risk you need to take seriously.

Types of Garden Pests

Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes. Many are more prevalent in specific climates, but some appear in gardens all over the world.

Broadly speaking, most garden pests fall into one of the following categories.

  • Domestic animals
  • Wild animals
  • Bugs and insects

There’s a bit of crossover between domestic and wild animals, as some animals can be either. Cats and dogs are the biggest offenders among pets that cause gardening problems, while rabbits and squirrels are among the worst of the wild animals. It depends on where you live, though.

Bugs and insects are what most people think of in relation to garden pests, and all kinds of creatures fall into this category. Some are very well-known, such as slugs and caterpillars for example. Others are a little more obscure, and there are also plenty you’ve probably never heard of.

Types of Plant Diseases

There are a few ways to classify plant diseases. One primary classification is whether they are infectious or not.

  • Infectious (biotic) diseases are caused by living organisms and can spread from plant to plant.
  • Non-infectious (abiotic) diseases are caused by external conditions such as unfavorable soil properties and extreme temperatures.

The majority of plant diseases we cover are infectious diseases. These can be further categorized based on the plant pathogens that cause the disease.

Knowing how to prevent and treat plant diseases is more important than understanding the pathogens, but here’s a quick look at the most common ones.

  • Fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses and viroids
  • Nematodes

If you’re interested in learning more about the science of plant diseases, we recommend visiting the American Phytopathological Society’s website.

For your average gardener, the most useful way to categorize plant diseases is by their symptoms. Doing so can help when it comes to identifying diseases in order to treat them.

The three broad classifications based on symptoms are as follows.

  • Foliar diseases. These affect the leaves and foliage of plants and are often characterized by lesions or discoloration.
  • Root diseases. These attack plant roots and typically cause stunted growth or wilting.
  • Fruit diseases. These affect the fruits and vegetables of plants, often leading to rot or mold.

Protecting Your Garden from Pests and Diseases

“Prevention is better than cure” is a fundamental principle of human health care. It also applies to plant care. Although there are plenty of options for treating affected plants these days, it’s much better if you can avoid having problems in the first place.

There are a few things you can do to help protect your garden from pests and diseases. Here are some examples.

  • Grow plants that are resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Inspect new plants for signs of pests or diseases before planting them.
  • Use seeds or plants from reputable sources.
  • Keep your garden sanitized.
  • Use physical barriers to keep pests out.

You’re unlikely to completely prevent your plants from being affected by pests and diseases, but it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. We urge you to protect your garden as much as you possibly can.

The following two articles provide some great advice and are well worth reading.

Identification and Treatment

No matter how well you protect your garden and plants, you’re probably going to have issues with pests and diseases at some point. That’s why you need to learn how to identify garden pests and plant diseases and treat them.

It helps if you know what to look for. For example, wilting leaves on a plant are a classic indication that something is wrong. Other common symptoms include discoloration, mold, and unusual growth patterns.

There are all kinds of signs that suggest you have a problem. We won’t go into them all here, though. The important thing is that you keep a close eye on your garden and plants and investigate further when you see anything amiss.

Once you’ve identified a problem, you need to figure out the best course of action. You’ll usually have options, as you can treat most pests and diseases in different ways. The available options will generally fall into one of the following categories.

  • Chemical control. Methods that mainly involve the use of pesticides or similar.
  • Biological control. Solutions that use other living organisms, such as beneficial pests.
  • Physical control. Things like removing affected parts of plants or using traps to kill pests.

The best solution in any scenario will depend on factors such as how widespread the problem is, the proximity of other plants, and what time of year it is. You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide the most appropriate way to proceed. You may also want to consider your personal preferences and whether you’re comfortable using certain methods.

It’s fair to say that identifying and treating garden pests and plant diseases can be hard work. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve put together all the guides in this section. We provide further information on many pests and diseases, including advice on identifying and treating them.

Our Directory of Garden Pests and Plant Diseases

The following is a list of all our guides for individual garden pests and plant diseases. These guides cover all the relevant information for each specific pest and disease, including any different types, what harm they can do, prevention methods, how to identify them, and the best ways to treat them.

Further Reading

The above information and advice, along with our guides to individual pests and diseases, will help you maintain a healthy garden. We also recommend taking a look at our directory of plants.

We cover many plants for the home and garden and include details of the pests and diseases that certain plants are resistant to or most susceptible to. Such information can be handy when deciding what to grow.

Here are some additional resources that you may also want to read.