Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs, thanks to its aroma and delicious taste. It’s one of the easiest herbs to grow, so when your basil plants start to die, you wonder what’s going on. That’s when you need to look at common pests and diseases of basil.
All plants are vulnerable to a variety of diseases and insects; Basil is no exception.
We’ll guide you through the most common things to look out for and make sure you know all the necessary preventative measures to keep them at bay.
8 Common Basil Pests
There are some insects that are eager to gnaw on your herbs.
One of the most common basil pests is aphids. These small, soft-bodied insects stick to the undersides of the leaves and stems of the basil plant, sucking the sap. They spread a sticky substance over the plant called honeydew that attracts sooty mold and ants that will cause further damage.
Small aphid infestations are no big deal; Spray the pests off your basil plants with a strong jet of water. You can also spread reflective mulch to deter aphids from your plants. You only need to use insecticides when you have a severe infestation. Neem oil and insecticidal soap are also effective methods of controlling aphids.
Learn more about aphids in your garden.
Cutworms are the larval stage of many different beetles. They live in the soil and are especially dangerous to young plants and plants. At night, they rapidly chew the stems, often cutting down plants at the soil line.
One thing you can do to deter them is to make a collar with aluminum foil or cardboard around the base of your basil plants to protect the stem from insects. Press the collar an inch into the soil and leave it at least three inches above the soil.
Here’s what you need to know about controlling cutworms in your garden beds.
3. Flea Beetle
Flea beetles are one of the most frustrating basil pests because they target young plants and seedlings. An infestation causes reduced plant growth, and in severe conditions the plant may die.
Flea beetles are tiny, like fleas that jump from plant to plant. Older plants tolerate the infestation, but young plants will not cover your plants with a floating row cover to deter beetles. Diatomaceous earth and neem oil are also effective control methods.
Learn more about treating flea beetles in your garden in our guide.
Most people don’t think of locusts as garden pests, but they are. The adult and nymph stages feed on the leaves, buds and stems of basil. The nymphs feed on the leaves, leaving holes everywhere. As the pests progress, they will destroy the foliage.
Inviting birds to your yard is one step to get rid of locusts in the garden. If the infestation is severe, spray insecticides to treat the problem. There is more information in our guide.
5. Japanese Beetle
Japanese beetles are one of the easiest basil pests to be recognized as an adult. They have a metallic greenish-bronze beetle that flies and jumps across the plants in your garden. These beetles form the skeleton of leaves along the rest of the vein, but they also damage flowers and buds on plants.
If you’ve had Japanese beetles in previous years, make sure you use floating row covers in your garden to protect your basil. Always pick the beetles you see by dropping them in soapy water. Spray neem oil or insecticidal soap to reduce the Japanese beetle population.
Leafminers cause scarring on leaves and severe infestations can cause white spots on the leaves of your plants. You may notice leaves falling off your plant, which can reduce the plant’s yield.
The only time to use insecticides is when you are sure you have properly identified the pests. Sprays that treat leaf miners also reduce beneficial insects, so this should be a last resort. Some gardeners choose to remove the plants rather than continue the infection.
If you don’t mind doing a little work, it’s very satisfying to wipe away insects on the inside of the leaves. It’s like popping bubble wrap on a small scale.
There are hundreds of species of nematodes, but the most dangerous is the root knot nematode. Root knot nematodes leave galls on plant roots that prevent the plant from bringing nutrients to the stems. Infection causes stunted growth and eventually death.
Root knot nematode infection is almost impossible to treat. If you want to re-plant there, you’ll need to prune your basil and solarize the soil afterwards to reduce the population.
Learn more about root knot nematodes in your garden.
8. Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails are two of the most frustrating garden pests for gardeners. They chew on the leaves and stems of your basil plants, and if the infestation is severe, these pests can skeletonize entire plants.
Prevention is easier than getting rid of slugs and snails; Practice good garden hygiene by removing plant debris and promoting air circulation. You can try spreading wood ash or eggshells around the base of your plants and placing beer traps in your garden to attract and drown them.
Check out our guide on different ways to get rid of slugs in the garden. Work for most snails too!
5 Common Tulsi Disease Disease
Dealing with basil diseases is frustrating; No one wants their basil plants to die. Knowing the diseases infected basil plants help you stay alert and active. Watch for signs of a problem and remember to have proper ventilation around your basil plants.
1. Cercospora Leaf Spot
Cercospora leaf spot is a fungal disease that infects basil plants, along with other plants, that causes circular and irregular dark spots on leaves with light centers. The spots grow slowly over time.
This fungus is spread by over irrigation and by spraying the fungus on the plants living in the soil. Therefore you should water the plants at soil level and spread mulch around the base of your plants to prevent spraying.
Removing symptomatic leaves is the first step. Then, find a fungicide that contains potassium bicarbonate and spray your basil plants weekly. Fungicides only work for minor infections; Severe infestations require the entire plant to be removed from the garden.
2. Downy mildew
One of the most common basil diseases is downy mildew; This is a fungal infection that causes yellowing leaves and discoloration that begins around the middle vein. The most common symptom of downy mildew is gray fuzzy or downy growth on the underside of leaves. Severe infestation causes brown or black necrotic spots on the plant.
Downy mildew is a bit difficult to treat; Preventive measures are the first line of defense. Start by reading our guide to downy mildew to learn how to treat it in your garden.
3. Fusarium Wilt
One of the most deadly diseases of basil is Fusarium wilt because once your plant has contracted this fungal disease there is no treatment. It presents itself with yellow, discolored leaves, or the leaves may have brown streaks.
Over time, fusarium wilts worsen, stunting plant growth and eventually causing plant death. Treating plants that already have fusarium wilt is impossible, so you can only remove infected plants. Learn more about fusarium wilt in your garden.
4. Gray Mold
No one wants to deal with mold in their garden, and this is especially true when it comes to gray mold. This fungal disease causes brown to brown fussy growths on the stems and leaves of the basil plant. Gray mold causes the plant’s leaves to drop, and severe infestation leads to the death of the plant.
Gray mold appears in conditions that have high humidity and poor air circulation. Treatment of this fungal disease is almost impossible; No chemical treatment works. Removal of infected plants is recommended.
5. Leaf Spot
Leaf spot is one of the most common bacterial basil diseases. It causes angular or irregular brown water-soaked spots on leaves as well as stripes on stems.
Unfortunately, if your basil plants contract leaf spot, treatment is not an option. Gardeners need to focus on preventive measures such as planting disease-free seeds, promoting aeration, and promptly removing diseased plants and soil.
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