Disease-Resistant Plants

Gardening catalogs have been arriving daily. As you browse through them this winter, you might notice that some of the plant descriptions contain information about disease resistance or tolerance. The use of resistant or tolerant varieties is an inexpensive and easy means of controlling plant diseases in crops where such varieties are available. Their use can also help cut down on the use of pesticides for disease control.

The term resistance or tolerance does not mean that the plant is completely immune to disease. It refers to a plant's ability to overcome to some degree the effect of the pathogen. Also, no variety is resistant or tolerant to all diseases. For instance, the initials VF by a tomato variety indicates resistance to the fungal diseases Verticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt, but does not mean that the variety is also resistant to the common leaf diseases.

If you have had a particular disease problem on a crop in the past, check to see if resistance to this disease is available. Many catalogs clearly list information on resistance or tolerance to specific diseases.

The following list gives some examples of host plants and diseases to which resistance or tolerance is available:

monarda powdery mildew
phlox powdery mildew
rose black spot, powdery mildew
zinnia powdery mildew
apple scab, cedar-apple rust, fireblight, powdery mildew
asparagus rust
beans powdery mildew, downy mildew, rust, various viruses
broccoli black rot, downy mildew
cucumber bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, downy mildew, various viruses
pea Fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, downy mildew, various viruses
pepper Verticillium wilt, various viruses
sweet corn rust, smut, Stewart's wilt, anthracnose, other foliar diseases
tomato Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, Tobacco Mosaic virus, early blight

Remember to select plants that are suitable for Iowa's hardiness zones and suitable for the site where they will planted. Pm-607 "Suggested vegetable varieties" lists suitable vegetable varieties for Iowa. Plants that are healthy and growing vigorously are better able to resist infection by disease organisms.

This article originally appeared in the January 13, 1995 issue, p. 6.


Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Horticulture and Home Pest News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on January 13, 1995. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.