Tennessee gardeners urged to monitor rhododendron plants

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A rhododendron plant with phytophthora ramorum, a water mold pathogen that causes sudden oak death, ramorum leaf blight and ramorum dieback.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is advising homeowners and gardeners to monitor their rhododendron plants after detecting a disease that kills plants, trees, and shrubs.

Phytophthora ramorum is a water mold pathogen that causes sudden oak death, ramorum leaf blight and ramorum dieback.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) detected the pathogen in rhododendron plants at a store in Dickson County. The infected plants were part of a larger shipment that originated from nurseries in Washington and Canada. APHIS is working to trace the plants from the shipment, which were sent to 18 states.

TDA suggests Tennesseans who have purchased a rhododendron since April, 2019 at Walmart and Rural King outlets monitor the plant for signs of disease, including leaf spots and dying branches or limbs. If plants might have this disease, contact TDA’s Plant Certification Section at (615) 837-5137 or email plant.certification@tn.gov.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Plant Certification Section works to control and eradicate diseases and pests which threaten Tennessee's forests, nurseries and major crops. To learn more about Tennessee plant pests, diseases and quarantines, visit www.tn.gov/agriculture/businesses/plants/plant-pests--diseases-and-quarantines.html.

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