Planting Technique Matters in Reducing Vinca Disease in Landscapes

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  • 1 1LSU AgCenter, Hammond Research Station, Hammond, LA, 70403
  • | 2 2LSU AgCenter, Horticulture, Baton Rouge, LA, 70403

Annual vinca, Catharanthus roseus, is exceptionally adaptive to the summer heat and the sandy loam or clay soil in the southeastern region and provides season-long blooms once established in landscape plantings. A wide variety of colors, sizes, and applications are available for landscape use. However, diseases such as alternaria leaf spot and phytophthora leaf blight are prevalent in this region in vinca plantings. Effective disease control requires frequent fungicide application that is expensive and may pose negative effects on the environment. Proper planting techniques including date of planting, fertilization rate at planting, and variety selection may improve plant growth, reduce disease severity, and save landscape service business labor in disease management. Plants of three varieties: open-pollinated `Cooler Hot Rose', F1 hybrid `Titan Rose', and trailing variety `Mediterranean Lilac' were planted on 1 Apr. or 1 May in landscape plots. Plants were at the same growth stage at the time of planting and were fertilized with Osmocote 14–14–14 (3 months) at 0, 35, 70, or 140 g·m2. Plant growth index indicates that plant growth increased significantly at increasing fertilization rates; however, plant overall quality ratings were not significantly different among fertilized plants. Disease incidence in July suggests that late planting may reduce alternaria leaf spot in open-pollinated and hybrid upright type vinca. Disease severity in August was more pronounced on trailing vinca and more severe when plants were not fertilized or fertilized with the highest fertilization rate. Tissue analysis indicates that trailing vinca `Mediterranean Lilac' may require less fertilization than upright type.

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