5 Telltale Signs of Plant Disease

Plant Disease

5 Telltale Signs of Plant Disease 

Soft, living landscape elements, or softscape, are crucial when it comes to curb appeal. Whether you have a backyard vegetable garden, ornamental flower pots, or shrubs bordering your front walkway, flowers and greenery can add an instant element of color and beauty to any landscape.

Unhealthy, sad-looking plants, on the other hand, can have the opposite effect: instead of a luscious, vibrant landscape, your yard may become more of an eyesore. The better you understand how to recognize plant disease, the better you’ll be able to diagnose and treat the issue to keep your plants looking happy and healthy.

What is Plant Disease?

Plant disease refers to a structural or functional impairment in a plant which can lead to a variety of visual symptoms.  Many plant diseases have similar symptoms, so you may have to do some investigating to determine exactly what is wrong with the plant in question.

Most forms of plant disease can be broken down into four categories: fungal, bacterial, parasitic, or viral. Additionally, some plant diseases are considered “abiotic,” meaning that they are not infectious and result from deficiencies such as poor air, water,  or soil conditions.

Know Your Plants

Each plant is unique. Some healthy plants naturally have characteristics that could be mistaken for plant disease, so it’s important that you understand what your plant is supposed to look like at its healthiest to use as a baseline.

For example, some leaf species naturally contain light and dark color patterns; in other types of plants, this color variation could be an indicator of plant disease.

The better you know your plant, the better you’ll be able to identify signs of plant disease. Check on your plants every so often to verify they’re still looking strong and healthy. That way, if you do happen to notice potential plant disease, you can address the issue before it spreads through your garden.

Signs of Plant Disease

Various plant diseases can result in a various observable signs and symptoms. In other words, plant disease can look different depending on the specific plant type and its ailment. Additionally, multiple plant diseases can yield similar symptoms.

That said, we’ve consolidated five common signs of plant disease to be on the lookout for while you tend to your greenery:


If a plant seems to have stunted tissue or organ growth, you may have a case of plant disease. Examples of an underdeveloped plant include (but are not limited to) shortened internodes, weak roots, abnormal leaves, and a lack of fruits and flowers.


On the other end of the spectrum, an overdeveloping plant can also be a sign of plant disease. Examples include galls (growths) on stems, leaves, and roots, excessive flowering, and witches brooms (or abnormal shoot clusters).


If your plants appear to be drooping, wilting, or dying, that’s a telltale sign that something is wrong.

Death of plant parts, or necrosis, can appear on various parts of the plant such as stems, roots, or leaves. If a plant tissue is dying, you’ll likely be able to see a spots of discoloration in the form of blotches, rings, or speckling.


Other forms of discoloration can also occur as a result of plant disease. For example, you may notice chlorosis, or yellowing of green plant parts. Of course, this type of discoloration is not to be mistaken with normal fall foliage color changes!

You may also notice mosaic discoloration, or an abnormal patchwork of colors on leaves.


If the tissues of your plant become mushy, soft, and watery, you’re likely witnessing soft rot. If you notice brown, sunken spots (often seen on fruit), that’s called brown rot. Keep an eye out for any moldy coatings, as these can also be a sign of plant disease.

If you suspect plant disease and would benefit from a professional assessment, contact us at 215.657.9160 or at info@garrettchurchill.com for an on-site consultation and soil analysis.