How do you determine what is wrong with your plant? How do you describe what is wrong to another person? Signs and symptoms.

Symptoms are the plant's response to a disease. Signs are evidence of the thing causing the problem and are not made by the plant itself.

Spots on a leaf are a sign of the causative agent such as fungi or bacteria. The leaf turning yellow is a symptom since it is the plant's response to the infection. A hole in the leaf may be a sign of an insect chewing on it. Wilting is a symptom that the plant part is being deprived of water for some reason.

Of course, the first step in identifying signs and symptoms is to know what the plant is SUPPOSED to look like naturally. The twisted, distorted branches of the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick are not a problem. Yellow streaks on the needles of certain variegated pines is not a problem.

Here are some details about common plant signs and symptoms:

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

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