Cactus Anthracnose Control: Tips For Treating Fungal Diseases In Cactus

By Amy Grant

Cacti seem to be hardy and fairly resistant to problems, but fungal diseases in cactus can be a major issue. An example of this is anthracnose fungus in cactus. Anthracnose on cactus can decimate an entire plant. Is there any effective cactus anthracnose control? Read on to find out about treating anthracnose in cactus.

Anthracnose on Cactus

Anthracnose is caused by a fungus (Colletotrichum spp.) and afflicts many plant species. Anthracnose fungus in cactus affects several types of cacti:

The first signs of infection are dark, water soaked lesions on stems, leaves or fruit. Soon, the interior of the lesions becomes covered with a pink, jelly-like mass of spores. Within a few days of infection, the pink gelatinous spores enlarge and eventually the plant tissue hardens and dries out. Agaves are also often afflicted, most often in the fall when the weather is wet.

This fungal disease in cactus overwinters in and on seeds, soil and garden detritus. Wet, cool weather encourages development. Moist, warm temperatures of between 75 and 85 F. (24 and 29 C.) cause an increase in the growth of spores that are then spread via rain, wind, insects and gardening tools.

Treating Anthracnose in Cactus

Once the plant is afflicted with anthracnose, there is no optimal cactus anthracnose control. Obviously, infected leaves (cladodes) can be removed but may not stop the progression of the infection. Use a knife that is disinfected before each cut. Disinfect by dipping the knife in one part bleach to four parts of water.

In greenhouses, soil should be removed from areas of infected plants. All tools and pots need to be thoroughly disinfected. An application of copper fungicide, Maneb, Benomyl or Dithane may aid in destroying any remaining fungi.

Be sure to completely destroy any infected parts or complete plants so they do not infect other areas.

Practice good garden sanitation by removing any rotting plant debris immediately. Water plants at the base to avoid splashing and spreading spores. Keep tools disinfected.

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