Iowa State University
INDEX A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Abiotic Diseases

This article was published originally on 7/27/2005

Hot weather, inadequate moisture, drifting of herbicides, freezing temperatures, transplant shock, compacted soils, mower injury, and lack of nutrients are examples of factors that can cause abiotic disease problems. Abiotic diseases are caused by factors other than living (biotic) agents.

To diagnose abiotic disease problems, it is important to evaluate the characteristics of the site, past weather conditions, and the care practices of the owner. In some cases, more than one abiotic factor may contribute to the poor health of a plant. Plants that are growing under stressful conditions may also be more prone to certain biotic disease problems, such as fungal cankers.

A good understanding of the growing requirements of plants and selecting the right species for the conditions of the site can help prevent problems with abiotic stresses. Unfortunately, weather extremes cannot be controlled and are common. The season this year started with untimely cool temperatures and excess moisture. As the season progressed, hot and dry conditions caused stress to plants.

Good care practices, including using proper techniques when watering, fertilizing, pruning, planting, and mowing, can help prevent abiotic disease problems. Although symptoms of browning caused by factors such as drought stress or freeze injury cannot be reversed, later-emerging growth will typically show recovery when normal conditions return.

Hosta stress
Heat and drought symptoms on a hosta plant.
Korean fir transplant shock
Transplant shock symptoms on a newly planted Korean fir tree. Heat stress may be a contributing factor to the failure of the plant to establish.
Year of Publication: 
2005
Issue: 
IC-493(18) -- July 27, 2005