Rust fungus is another common garden fungi causing reddish brown spots on the underside of leaves and plant stems. It grows faster in hot, humid weather and once the infection takes hold the plant will be destroyed quite fast.
This is a picture of rust. As I checked out sources for the treatment of rust I could not find much other than ... 'plant rust resistant varieties' which is not a big help when you become infected with it and need to deal with it.
Being a fungus, this infection is caused by a variety of different fungi that all seem to be plant specific meaning that an infected species of plant will not infect a different species of vegetable.
As a sidenote fungi, like rust, are members of the plant kingdom but they do not contain any chlorophyll so they cannot manufacture their own food. They obtain their food by attacking other plants and feeding on them for energy.
So what do you do when you detect rust on your plants and want to get rid of it?
First of all, clip all infected leaves and other infected parts of the plant and do it quickly - the rust fungus grows extremely quickly. Next, keep the plant dry and apply a fungicide.
You could use a harsh chemical but, no need, because rust can be treated with less toxic chemicals.
Traditionally an infected plant is also kept out of the rain and not watered from above because the rust spores can keep reinfecting a plant by splashing in the soil around the plant base. Fortunately this is not really a concern with hydroponics.
Rust fungus is best controlled by applications of sulfur and with neem oil. Common household ingredients can be effective against rust by mixing them with water and straining them into a spray bottle to be sprayed on your infected plant.
When mixing up a cure I combine the ingredients in a container and let sit for a few hours. Then I strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a spray bottle.
Treatment is applied several times a day for 7 days before you are successful and rust is eradicated.
And I cannot stress this enough: before applying any chemical of any kind to your plants, ALWAYS apply it to a small section first to make sure your plant leaves can tolerate it.
Included below are some common recipes that are very effective against the fungi. Mix the ingredients, let sit in the sun, if possible, for about six hours and strain.
When you devise your own fungicide mixture, keep in mind that water is a good base mixer as well as tea and oil will not only help the mixture stick to the leaves but will also smother the fungi. A squirt of liquid dish soap will also help the mixture stick to the leaves. So feel free to mix and match ingredients.
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