Gardening Tip of the day: Sooty Mold


Did you know that there is fungal disease called sooty mold caused by fumago vagans? 
This non-pathogenic fungus and several other fungi have been reported including Capnodium elongatum, Echidnodella angustiformis etc that grows on plants surface at areas covered by honeydew (which is a sticky liquid a sugary substance excreted by insects: mealybugs, aphids, mites, scales and caterpillars as they feed on the plants).
Note that sooty mold can be found with honeydew on fruit leaves and in extreme cases of infection on tree trunks also.
It can affect a variety of plant species from Pines to hibiscus, osteosperum and especially in Cyprus, on carob trees. Additionally, it can even affect crepe myrtles and prunus species.
The disease does not directly affect the plant because the fungus is not fed from plant tissues but from carbon which is containing in the chemical bonds of honeydew. As is growing it is covering the honeydew area and reducing the levels of photosynthesis, physiology, and transpiration of the plants.
Moreover, if we want to get rid of this plant health enemy, we must reduce the factors of causing honeydew (Insects) so there will not be space or place for them to grow on our plants surface. We need to be proactive by starting spraying from early spring to late summer against chewing type of insects.
Although, we can wipe off leaves if black fungal growth is on and prune our trees and bushes for better exposure to the sun, by avoid dense plantings we allow air flow conditions to increase. Furthermore, we reduce humidity levels and bad ventilation which are conductive condition for the fungus to grow. 
Besides, a use of fungicide helps the infection as cooper oxychloride and potassium salts can be used during summertime. 
Stay tuned to learn more about our green friends and stay aware to keep them safe for a better greener world!