Almost every gardener has tried their hand at growing spinach at some point or another. It grows fast, packs a ton of nutrition, and takes very little effort to thrive. Unless, of course, your spinach is affected by pests or diseases.
Every year when I grow spinach, inevitably, something tries to take hold of my plants. One year, aphids took them down along with many other plants. One year, I couldn’t stop downy mildew. I wish I knew fungicides can help!
Now I know how to handle any situation. This guide will help you master spinach growing, too.
- 1 8 Spinach Plant Pests
- 2 5 Spinach Plant Diseases
8 Spinach Plant Pests
Spinach plants are attacked by many different pests, with only those causing minor damage that can completely kill your crop in no time.
One of the most common spinach plants is aphids. These tiny insects stick to the undersides of leaves, sucking out plant sap and excreting a sticky substance called honeydew. Honeydew attracts ants and encourages the growth of sooty mold on your spinach plants.
Small aphid populations are usually not a problem. If the insects are on only a few leaves, prune them to keep the infestation under control. If things get worse, there are several ways to keep aphids in the garden under control.
armyworm (Spodoptera spp.) There is another frustrating pest you will find on spinach plants. They eat leaves and cause closely grouped circular or irregularly shaped pores. If you have a bunch of larvae feeding heavily, they will skeletonize entire leaves.
Adults are brown moths, but they do no harm to plants. They lay eggs, which you can find in large clusters on leaves that are covered with a cotton or fuzzy coating. Those eggs hatch into larvae that do all the damage.
Some species of armyworm reproduce rapidly, producing up to five generations a year, so they can rapidly become a problem.
Some biological control methods work on these pests, such as . Applications of bacillus thuringiensis when insects are small. Our guide to armyworms in the garden can help you get the infestation under control.
3. Cabbage Looper
It is not uncommon to find cabbage loopers on your spinach plants. These pests make large or small holes in the leaves; The damage is sometimes extensive. Cabbage loopers are easy to identify in the garden. They are pale green with white lines running down either side of their body, and when they move, they twist their bodies.
One problem with cabbage loopers is that they overwinter in crop debris, so it’s easy for these pests to continue to spread and infest entire gardens. Usually, natural enemies are enough to keep cabbage looper populations under control, but you can also remove them by hand and apply Bacillus thuringiensis.
Learn more about controlling cabbage loopers in the garden.
cutworm (trichoplusia n) are another destructive pest which are the caterpillars of the brown or gray night-flying moths. These pests destroy new plants in an instant, so you’ll need to watch your garden to make sure they don’t take your plants down.
Cutworms chew on plant stems, biting them at the base. One way to control them is to make a cardboard collar out of toilet paper or paper towel rolls. These keep cutworms away from the stems of your plants.
We have a helpful guide to preventing cutworm damage in your garden if you come across these pests.
Most people don’t think of locusts as destructive garden pests, but these tiny insects eat up to half their body weight in plants every day. If you have a locust infestation, they can cause damage very quickly.
Some people think that these pests are cute, but they are far from it. They will eat the entire spinach plant in a day or two, so make sure you pay attention and use preventive measures. For example, clearing up any garden debris is essential because grasshoppers use the debris for cover.
Find out how to get rid of locusts in your garden so they can save your spinach crop from destruction.
6. Spinach Crown Mite
Spinach crown mites are an arachnid that like to eat spinach plants, as their name suggests. They distort the leaves and you will find many small holes in the new leaves. Spinach crown spines are small and transparent, making them difficult to identify, and they remain in the crown of the plant.
These pests typically damage newly emerged plants and older plants that may be more vulnerable to damage as they are stressed. Always make sure you remove crop debris as they contain mites on the crown of spinach. If these mites are causing widespread damage to your plants, you will need to use acaricide.
Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles in the family Elateridae. Regardless of the species of wireworm that attacks your spinach plants, they all cause plant death.
If your young shoots suddenly drop, dig in the soil. You may get wireworm larvae; They look like small worms of yellowish-brown color with shiny skin.
The larval stage lasts a long time, between one and five years, and they will live in the soil and continue to destroy whatever you plant in that area. Tilling your soil helps reduce the numbers, and you should always rotate crops. If you plant non-host plants, the insects have nothing to feed on for the next year.
To learn more about wireworms and the destruction they cause in the garden, you’ll want to check out our guide.
8. Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails love most leafy greens, from hostas to lettuce. Chances are, if you grow spinach, you’ll be on the lookout for a hungry gastropod bite. They can leave ripped holes in your spinach leaf or they can completely eat away at a plant on the ground.
Fortunately, they are one of the easier spinach pests to deal with. There are several natural ways to deal with a slug or snail problem.
5 Spinach Plant Diseases
Spinach is troubled by many diseases, most of them are fungal in nature. Good gardening practices such as watering at soil level, properly positioning plants, and planting them somewhere that they get plenty of morning sunlight go a long way toward preventing these problems in the first place.
Early detection helps protect your spinach from these diseases and you can prevent the spread in your garden.
Anthracnose is actually a term to describe a group of fungi that affects a vast range of plants.
In spinach, it is caused by fungus Colletotrichum spinacea and causes small, water-soaked lesions to develop on spinach leaves. Over time, those lesions enlarge and turn into brown or tan spots that have a papaya texture. Severe infection causes the lesions to coalesce and the entire leaf dies.
Anthracnose develops during the wet season, living in the soil until the spores are spread on your spinach plant, splashing the soil onto the leaves. That’s why it’s important to avoid sprinkler or overhead irrigation for the health of your plants.
Copper fungicide can be used preventively or if the disease has just started affecting your plants. But once it takes hold, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
Learn more about anthracnose and how to deal with it in your garden.
2. Damping off
Damping off is one of the most common problems that gardeners face in dealing with new seedlings. It is an infection caused by fungi or water mold and results in low germination rate of seeds and death of newly emerged plants. You will often see water-soaked rings before the plants drop.
It causes stunted growth, yellowing of lower leaves, wilting and collapse and death of older plants. If you remove the plant, you may get waterlogged and discolored roots.
Always make sure you sow disease free seeds and properly manage your plant care. Learn more about dumping-off in your garden.
3. Downy Mildew
Downy mildew is another fungus that causes a variety of symptoms in your spinach plants. The disease usually begins with yellow spots on cotyledons and early leaves. Over time, the yellow spots enlarge, tan and develop a dry texture.
You may also find purple fungus growth on the undersides of leaves. Severe infestation causes twisted and distorted leaves.
Downy mildew appears most often on spinach plants when there are cool temperatures and moist soil. Some varieties of spinach are resistant to downy mildew, but some fungicides help protect your plants if you apply them early.
Learn more about treating downy mildew in your garden.
4. Fusarium Wilt
Another fungal infection that spinach plants face is Fusarium wilt. It begins with yellowing of the older leaves of the plant and over time the fusarium wilts, leading to premature death of the plant. In older plants, the leaf veins may darken, and shoots develop symptoms similar to wetting.
As you’ve probably guessed, Fusarium wilt is one of the worst spinach diseases. It survives on the seeds of the plant, so only the seed is guaranteed to be disease free. It spreads rapidly in hot weather and is carried from spinach to spinach by insects. Learn more about Fusarium wilt and how to prevent this fungus.
5. White Rust
White rust is a fungus that causes yellow spots on the upper edges of leaves and white, blister-like bumps on the undersides of leaves. The blisters may spread to the upper surface of the leaf as the infection spreads during the later stages.
Infected plants drop and die if conditions are right for rapid development of the disease. White rust likes cool, damp nights and mild days.
If you’ve dealt with white rust before, it’s a good idea to plant spinach varieties that tolerate it better. You can also try fungicides, but they are not very effective once the disease occurs. Good gardening practices are important in prevention.
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