A Guide to Common Garden Pests and Plant Diseases

Use this handy guide to identify and avoid common garden pests and plant diseases.

| March 2012 Web

Plant diseases and garden pests may seem like a fact of life to the avid gardener, but with a little advice, you can learn to halt these headaches and even avoid them in the future. This convenient reference list from The Edible Balcony (Rodale Books, 2012) lists and explains some common garden nuisances. Excerpted from the chapter “Pests and Diseases.” 


See Blackfly, Greenfly, and Woolly aphid.

Apple and Pear Scab

Rain and wind spread the spores of this fungal disease that causes dark green patches to appear on the leaves of apple and pear trees and then corky scabs on the surface of the fruit. Remove and throw away fallen leaves to reduce the spread of the spores.

Bacterial Canker

This disease affects stone fruit trees, such as peaches, plums, cherries, and apricots, causing a clear brown gum to ooze from the branches. Prune out affected areas down to at least 8 in. below the canker and throw prunings away rather than composting them. To deter, prune stone fruits only in the summer months.


Tiny holes in arugula and brassicas and a cloud of tiny black beetles that fly up when disturbed usually means flea beetle. A mild infestation doesn’t do too much harm, but if it’s a real problem, avoid growing arugula between late May and mid-summer when flea beetles are most prolific.


The fruit of trees such as plums, cherries, and peaches is a magnet for many birds, while brassicas can be targeted by pigeons. If you’re really bothered, you may have to net the trees or plants at vulnerable times. With trees, you could also try hanging plastic bottles, DVDs, or glass candleholders in the branches to deter the birds.

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