Agave Fungal Diseases – Tips On Treating Anthracnose On Agave Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Anthracnose of agaves is bad news to be sure. The good news, however, is that although the fungus is unsightly, anthracnose on agave plants isn’t an automatic death sentence. The key is to improve growing conditions, and to treat the plant as soon as possible. Read on to learn how to prevent and control anthracnose of agaves.

What is Agave Anthracnose?

Like other agave fungal diseases, anthracnose of agaves generally occurs when growing conditions are wet and humid. While this may be due to the moods of Mother Nature, including splashing rain, it can also be the result of too much shade or excessive irrigation, especially via overhead sprinklers.

The primary sign of anthracnose of agaves include unsightly sunken lesions on the crown and sword-like leaves, often with a visible, reddish-brown spore mass. The disease spores spread from plant to plant via splashing water or wind-blown rain.

Agave Anthracnose Treatment and Prevention

When it comes to anthracnose of agaves, prevention is definitely the best means of control, as fungicides aren’t always effective.

  • Plant agaves in full sunlight, always in well-drained soil.
  • Irrigate the plant using drip irrigation or a soaker hose and avoid overhead sprinklers. Never water overhead if the disease is present.
  • Disinfect garden tools by spraying them with isopropyl rubbing alcohol or a mixture of 10 parts water to one part household bleach.
  • If you’re in the market for new agave plants, look for healthy, disease-resistant cultivars. Allow generous distance between plants to provide adequate air circulation.

Part of agave anthracnose treatment involves the immediate removal of growth with active lesions. Destroy infected plant parts carefully to avoid spread of disease. Never compost diseased plant parts.

Apply sulfur powder or copper spray weekly, beginning in spring and continuing every couple of weeks throughout the growing season, but not during hot weather. Alternatively, neem oil spray applied every couple of weeks may also be an effective preventive measure.

Spray agave plants and the surrounding soil with a broad-spectrum fungicide during wet, humid weather. Products containing Bacillus subtilis are non-toxic to bees and other beneficial insects.

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