Local News

Black Spot Disease Eating Away at Redtips

Posted March 28, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— For a lot of us, spring weather is a call to the yard. But look at what might be waiting for you if you own redtips. The fungus that's been such a menace for five years is back.

"Lots of times, people will miss the spots on the leaves. They don't get up close to the hedge," says Cyndi Lauderdale, a horticulture agent. "You really need to go up and really look at the leaves and see black spots. If you do, you have the disease."

Lauderdale says redtips will eventually die off altogether because the black spot disease is spreading so quickly.

The fungus is death sentence for redtips, but you can slow it down.

Plants that are by themselves tend to hold up a little better than the ones that are bunched together. Air flow is the reason. This fungus loves moist conditions.

The more air you get flowing between the plants, the less chance you have of the fungus spreading.

You can also treat the disease chemically, but you have to do it every two weeks for as long as the plant lives.

Nursery owner Jeff Denton has opted to stop selling redtips. Instead, he offers a heartier look-a-like.

"Most nurseries are going to these for landscaping and commercial for the simple reason that they are a little less susceptible," says Denton. "They can still contract the disease, but it's a little easier on this plant."

The fungus travels through the air and the water, so there's no way to protect your redtips forever.

Experts say the best thing to do is start looking for a way to replace them.

They also say this is the perfect time of year to start treating the spot disease. Once the plants open up, they're a lot harder to fix.