How to protect plants from Pythium fungus?

Pythium is a fungus that can cause a lot of damage to plants.

Plants, especially the youngest ones, are very vulnerable to fungal infections. And it is that when we realize that they are sick, which is when the symptoms appear, in general these microorganisms have already had time to colonize all their parts, from inside the vessels that are in the stems and roots.

Of all the genera and species of fungi that exist, one of those that most affects them is the Pythium. This is a parasitic microorganism that chooses to infect the root system, thereby causing them to rot and, therefore, the plants spoil. Is there a way to prevent this from happening?

What are the characteristics of the Pythium mushroom?

Pythium fungus is very harmfulThe Pythium fungus is very harmful

Image – Wikimedia/Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc.

Pythium is a fungus of the Oomycetes class and of the Pythiales order, which is very common, especially in seedbeds and greenhouses, where environmental and / or substrate humidity is high. Once it detects that the plant is a little weak, with low defenses, or if it has any wound (or micro-wound) in its roots, the spore -the equivalent of the seed- will be able to enter its interior and, from there, multiply rapidly.

How fast? This will depend on the defenses of the affected plant, how weak it is, as well as the environmental conditions. A) Yes, If, for example, the environment is humid but cool, the fungus will take longer than if it were humid and warm.. That is why it is so important to take into account the climate and human factor (that is, when to water and how, if it is fertilized or not, etc.) when diagnosing and treating the diseases that plants may have.

Also, in the case of Pythium, it should be known that it is able to survive for a long time in decomposing plant materialwhich makes its eradication even more difficult. Neither crop rotation nor fallow, which is a system in which the land is not sown periodically, are really effective measures against it.

What plants does it affect?

We are talking about fungi that can test all the knowledge we have about this type of microorganism, not only because of what has been said so far, but also because it affects a wide variety of plants. Some of them are:

  • Herbs that form the grass.
  • Seedlingsespecially trees and palm trees.
  • Flower plants: geraniums, marigolds, primroses and the like.
  • Orchard: tomato plants, peppers, pumpkin, zucchini, etc.

What are the symptoms of Pythium?

Pythium can spoil seedlingsPythium can spoil seedlings

Image – Flickr / Scot Nelson

Symptoms may vary somewhat depending on the age and strength of the plant, but in general you have to know that affects the roots. Of these, the secondaries will be the first to rot as they are the most delicate. If the disease progresses, it will end up damaging practically the entire root system.

In the aerial part of the plant we will see that the flower buds, if they have them, fall off, and the leaves lose firmness and turn yellow. On the other hand, in the seedbeds the seedlings will fall, since having almost no roots, the Pythium fungus kills them quickly.

How to treat a plant affected by the fungus?

If you detect or suspect that your plant is sick, first of all what you have to do is separate it from the others if possible to avoid transmission from one to the other. Put it in a bright area but without direct sunlight, and if possible outside so that it has ventilation.

The next thing you have to do is treat it with fungicideSo if you have powdered copper or sulfur, feel free to spread a little over the entire surface of the soil or substrate around the stem / trunk, and water. But if you can get a ready-to-apply copper oxychloride fungicide, it’s going to be more effective.

Finally, cut off the affected parts with scissors previously disinfected with alcohol and do not water until you see that the substrate or soil is dryespecially if you live in a warm climate or if at that time the temperatures are above 20ºC. Remember that the combination of excess humidity + heat stimulates the multiplication of fungi such as Pythium.

How to prevent Pythium fungus infection?

The use of pots without holes should be avoided

Avoid using pots without holes

Although it is difficult to prevent infection 100%, there are a number of measures that can be carried out to minimize the risk. They are as follows:

  • Water only when necessaryavoiding waterlogging (unless, of course, it is an aquatic or semi-aquatic plant).
  • Do not spray / mist the leaves of your indoor plants with water. It is more advisable to put glasses of water around them or buy a humidifier.
  • Keep them properly paidusing organic fertilizers if possible.
  • Use new substratesthat absorb water well and also filter the excess quickly, and pots with holes in their base.
  • Thoroughly clean the pots you are going to use with hot water and dish soap. Let them air dry.
  • Don’t buy plants that are diseased or that you suspect are. If they have brown, yellow or white spots that they should not have, fruits in poor condition, … or any other symptom that makes you suspicious, leave them in the nursery.
  • In seedbeds, sprinkle copper or sulfur occasionally.

We hope it has been useful to you.

How to protect plants from Pythium fungus?

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