While car owners hate that four-letter word “rust,” Iowa gardeners are also on guard for the plant version. A new disease that struck daylilies in two eastern Iowa locations last year is the subject of a careful watch this year by experts like Mark Gleason, an extension plant pathologist at I-S-U.The symptoms are red or brown streaks on the leaves of the plant and “pustules” or swellings that burst open and release orange or brick red colored spores. Gleason says it’s not known yet if the disease survived the winter or whether it will re-appear in Iowa this spring. He says it’s unnerving to daylily growers as the plant has a reputation of being trouble-free.If you find daylily rust, Gleason says to seal a sample in a plastic bag, remove the infected foliage and burn or bury it, then sterilize your garden tools and thoroughly wash your hands or gloves. Send the sample to the Plant Disease Clinic at I-S-U. Gleason says the rust won’t likely strangle a daylily plant, but can weaken the plant and hurt its chances of surviving the winter.Daylily rust was found last August in West Liberty and Atalissa after being shipped on plants via a Florida nursery from Chile. To contact Gleason or the Plant Disease Clinic, call (515) 294-0580.
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