Philodendrons are very common houseplants that are easy to grow and take care of. They are tolerant to low light conditions, and some aren’t much affected by neglect.
However, if taken good care of, Philodendrons grow into great foliage that beautifies your home for years.
Gardeners prefer these indoor plants for their hardiness, but that doesn’t make them immune to diseases.
Philodendron plants are quite adaptable, but they’re also susceptible to bacterial plant diseases. Leaf spot disease is the most common health issue that they experience. Pest infestation and wrong watering commonly affect indoor plants. In cases of poor drainage, these plants’ roots rot, and their foliage droops and discolor when they don’t receive enough light.
Common Diseases Affecting Philodendron Plants
There are several health issues and diseases that affect philodendron plants.
Though you can treat most of these conditions, your plants will benefit most when you recognize early signs of the diseases for treatment.
1. Bacterial Leaf Spot Disease
Bacterial leaf spot disease is easy to identify as long as you know what you’re looking for. Philodendrons come in different varieties, and each has a distinct variation in leaf pattern and plant color.
For new gardeners, it is easy to get this natural coloring confused with plant diseases, so be sure there’s a problem before attempting to fix it.
To affirm whether or not the plant is infected, check for brown spots with yellow halos or dark spots with black edges.
If you spot any of these, it means that the plant is sick, and as the spots enlarge, the leaf gets thin, subtle, and brittle.
The spots have irregular shapes with non-uniform patterns, and they spread on leaf surfaces very randomly. Infected leaves spread the disease to other leaves in neighboring plants, and the leaves break off easily when touched.
2. Pseudomonas Leaf Spot
This disease commonly affects fiddle leaf philodendrons, and the signs are noticeable in the first 72 hours. The disease is characterized by dark-centered and yellow water spots spreading rapidly on leaf surfaces.
In dry weather, these lesions fade to tan, and the leaves may drop in moist environments.
3. Xanthomonas Leaf Spot and Tip Burn
This red-edge spot bacteria attacks plant leaves through pores on the lower surface, wounds, and through glands that release moisture in philodendrons.
The disease is characterized by yellowing of leaf tips that progress towards the margins. On leaf edges, reddish, yellow-haloed spots are noticeable, which age to brown if left untreated.
With the advancement of the infection, the foliage turns completely yellow, and leaves start dropping off plants.
The disease is riskier for plants growing in humid conditions and temperatures of 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Infected leaves should be trimmed and disposed of safely to avoid spreading the disease to other plants.
4. Bacterial Blight
Bacterial diseases are very common for philodendrons, with Erwinia blight being a very prevalent and fatal one.
Erwinia attacks below or at the soil level and causes tiny water-soaked spots to appear on the plant’s stem, which ultimately expands to tan, then to blackened spots.
When the infection reaches the petioles, plant leaves collapse and drop off.
If the plant doesn’t succumb to this stem infection, it spreads to the leaves, causing stunted new growth. The new leaves develop with yellow discoloration as old foliage develops wet, tan lesions.
In cool, dry conditions, the lesions leave holes on the leaves when they thin and tear, and in high humidity, the collapsing leaf tissues emit a foul smell, the lesions are engulfed to leaf stalks and leaf surfaces.
Bacteria spread easily, so manage the disease by removing all infected leaves before the symptoms progress.
Take care when handling the infected plants; they should be destroyed if severely infected to eradicate sources of the bacterium, and consequently spread to healthy philodendrons.
5. Plant Stress and Disease
When plants are stressed, they invite diseases and infections.
The most common stress factors for philodendrons include poor drainage, inadequate light, under-or overwatering, lack of or too many nutrients, and substantial temperature fluctuations.
Preventing Philodendron Diseases
There are some precautionary measures gardeners should take to prevent diseases and keep infectious bacteria in check.
Philodendrons can be treated by isolating the infected plant when you first spot any sign of disease. If more than one leaf shows symptoms, get rid of the leaves one by one and clean your pruning tool to prevent spread to other foliage.
You can expose the plant to cool, dry conditions with adequate water and fertilizer and proper light conditions to help restore health.
Avoid overwatering as this is a common cause of illnesses on philodendrons. Damp soil with poor drainage provides the bacteria with a breeding ground which causes leaf spot diseases.
Philodendrons should be sited in open spaces with proper airflow to promote evaporation of surface moisture.
When there is excess moisture on philodendron leaves, the humidity rises and provides a good catalyst for bacterial growth.
Ensure the air around the plant and in the soil has good circulation by prodding the dirt surrounding the roots with a chopstick when watering to create air pockets all through the plant.
Prodding allows water to spread evenly through the roots. This allows the roots to get the air they require for growth and prevents them from rotting and bogging down due to excess moisture.
Frequently Asked Questions about Philodendron Diseases
Can I Treat Philodendrons With Fungicides?
You can treat philodendron diseases with chemical fungicides by applying the fungicide to the leaves top and bottom and along the stems of infected foliage. The fungicide isn’t meant to kill the disease, but it helps prevent spread to other nearby plants.
Is Leaf Spot Disease On Philodendron Plants Treatable?
If you notice any signs of leaf spot disease in your plants, move it away from other healthy plants to prevent the spread of the infection as the disease is very contagious. If you have been spritzing your plants, cease immediately. This is because surface water is one of the ways leaf spot diseases infect the leaves, and the moisture from fogging leaves helps the bacteria spread.
How Can I Protect My Philodendrons From Plant Diseases?
It may be difficult to get rid of plant diseases, especially leaf spot diseases. While you can stop the spread once the disease has appeared, it doesn’t go away. The best defense against plant diseases in philodendrons is prevention by supplying the plants with suitable conditions for growth.
Stressed philodendrons are more susceptible to health issues that cause drooping of foliage and ultimate plant death.
Infected plants develop discolored and curled leaves, which fall out with disease advancement. Prevention is better than cure, and in the case of philodendrons, it is the best way to keep your plants healthy and their foliage striking.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.