Why is my kangaroo paw turning black?
If you have black spots on your kangaroo paw, unfortunately it is likely to be a fungal disease commonly know as ink spot.
The black spots are caused by a fungus called Alternaria alternata. The disease starts on the tips of the kangaroo paw leaves and moves down to the stems. This ugly disease can be deadly for weak or juvenile kangaroo paws so it needs to be taken seriously.
How to treat Kangaroo Paw ink spot
The first thing to do when treating ink spot is to cut off any growth that is showing signs of the disease, even if this means cutting the whole plant down to 4-5cm from the base. Whilst this may seem like it could hurt the plant, in the long run it will be much more beneficial.
After pruning, apply a complete, high quality fertiliser. Neutrog Bush Tucker is good option. It is high in phosphorus which will help the Kangaroo Paw grow back more resistant to future disease.
In some cases, a fungicide may be needed to help treat the disease and prevent it from reoccurring. If this is the case, a simple Mancozeb treatment (product here) or a copper based fungicide (product here) should be effective treatments. Apply thoroughly to all remaining foliage as per label directions.
How to stop Kangaroo Paw black spots from reoccurring
There are three things you can do to prevent this disease in the future:
- Avoid leaf moisture
The longer the leaves are wet, the more likely a disease is to occur. Whilst we can’t do anything about natural rain, we can do something about our reticulation. Firstly, avoid watering your garden early in the night and instead water in the morning to reduce the time it takes for the leaf to dry. Secondly, consider changing your sprinklers from a spraying sprinkler that waters the leaf, to a dripping sprinkler that waters the soil. Thirdly, avoid over watering in general.
- Prune back twice a year
This will help keep the kangaroo paw healthy. Prune after flowers have finished. October/November and January/February are usually good times to prune your Kangaroo Paws.
- Regular fertilising
Neutrog Bush Tucker and Troforte M Native are both great products. Apply as per the label to have a stronger healthier plant (not to mention increased flowering and greener foliage).
I hope this has helped you understand and solve a common problem in WA gardens.
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