Nonchemical Disease Control: Cultural Management

Learn how to avoid the onset of disease.


Cultural management involves avoiding the onset of disease. To accomplish this without pesticides, create an environment unfavorable to pathogens.
  • Don't work in the garden when plants and soil are wet. Spores and cells of disease-causing organisms can spread from one plant to another and initiate new disease. Wet soils are easily compacted, which can decrease the amount of oxygen in the soil.
  • Make sure plants are spaced properly. Air movement decreases when plants are grown too close together. This allows moisture to remain on leaves for longer periods of time. Wider spacing in beds and landscape plantings promotes rapid drying after wet periods and stops development of foliage, flower and fruit pathogens.
  • Avoid excessive soil moisture. Overwatering enhances seed decay, damping-off and root rot diseases. Try not to plant in areas that have poor drainage or where water stands for several days following rains.
  • Fertilize plants properly based on soil nutrient analyses using either organic or commercially prepared (inorganic) fertilizers.
In other words, use good cultural management. Healthy plants are less likely to have disease problems than weak, undernourished ones. Grow plants under optimum conditions and there will be fewer disease problems.
Control of most plant diseases can be accomplished without pesticides. Use sound cultural practices, sanitation and well-adapted plant varieties to reduce disease problems. It is important to realize that you must accept some disease loss. Don't expect a perfect garden or plant if you do not want to use chemicals.

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