Heucheraholics, Boldre Nurseries, Southampton Road, Lymington, Hants, SO41 8ND
Tel: 01590 670581 /07973 291062 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Heucheras are remarkably pest and disease free but there is one disease has recently appeared that can be a bit of a problem. Heuchera rust is easily overlooked, it tends to appear on the older leaves and might be mistaken for tatty leaves that have done a whole year and are getting rather tired.....but once you turn a leaf over you'll see the tell-tale pustules and they are hard to confuse with any other Heuchera affliction.
Heucheras have their own special type of rust called Puccinia heucherae, it won't spread to other plants in your garden.
The image below is of both surfaces of leaves from a plant of H 'Lime Rickey' it's a yellow foliage type. The upper surface (left) shows the distinctive pock marks and the lower surface shows the little pockets of spores which eventually burst and scatter themselves on the wind.
Because the spores develop within the leaf tissue the spore clusters can't be picked off like a gall or scale insect. Take a look with a hand lens and you'll see the transparent covering of the outer layer of leaf tissue.
It's worth trying to keep rust under control because it spoils the appearance of the leaves and weakens the plant.
The first thing to do is cut off the leaves of the affected plant, all of them but don't remove the growing points of the plant. Heucheras grow back very quickly and when it comes the new foliage should be fresh, rust free and lovely. Dispose of the leaves so as to avoid spreading the spores - burning is a good idea or pop them in the rubbish bin (not with the green waste).
You can spray with Systhane (Roseclear) or Fungus Fighter to prevent further development of the disease. Always follow the instructions on the product label.
Check plants before you buy them - look at the older leaves and if you see rust don't buy them.
Cut off old leaves in the early Spring to make sure air circulates well amongst the new ones and to remove possible infection.
You can spray against rust, begin in Spring when the weather starts to warm up and repeat as directed on the packet.
Don't compost infected material
Consider planting other types of plants among your Heucheras so that they act as a bit of a barrier
If you have to water your Heucheras do it in the morning so the plants are dry before dark - rust likes humid over-night conditions - dry Heucheras are less likely to be attacked.
Simple plant hygiene is important - clean secateurs to avoid transferring spores and wash your hands after dealing with an infected plant.
Simple precautions and awareness of the disease should help to keep your gorgeous Heucheras healthy, enjoy them.