Some Common Herb Diseases – Mint Rust

How to Spot Mint Rust

herb diseases- mint rust

Mint Rust

If you are growing mint regularly year after year,although all mint species are quite resilient when it comes to herb disease, the chances are that at some stage your mint will be affected by the mint rust fungus.

Mint rust on growing mint

Mint Rust Pustules

You’ll be able to recognize this mint herb disease, rust fungus (called Puccinia Menthae by the scientific community) on your growing mint because your mint plant will look very unhealthy.

On close inspection you’ll find orange pustules on the stems and leaves.  As the infection progresses the leaves turn brown and die.

What Causes the Mint Rust Herb Disease?

Mint is meant to be particularly susceptible to mint rust if it’s grown in the full sun, but in my experience you’re just as likely to get it if your mint is not in full sun.  Infected plants will contaminate the soil and will carry the infection through the winter into the following year.

How to Eliminate Mint Rust

Sadly, there isn’t a good chemical remedy for the herb disease,  mint rust –  if you want to be able to use your mint after treatment.   I haven’t yet come across an organic treatment for this herb disease.

If you correctly diagnose that you have mint rust on your growing mint it’s important to act quickly to deal with it because the “spores” which develop with this herb disease drop onto the soil and affect your mint in following  year. These spores could also infect other herbs such as marjoram and savory.

Take the following steps:

Step 1:  Cut off all the stems of the growing mint immediately the rust is noticed, and keep cutting them off during the growing season.

Step 2:  During the winter make a small fire with straw over the top of the mint roots.  This kills off the spores which carry the disease

Step 3:  In the spring watch carefully for a repeat of the herb disease rust in your growing mint.  If it returns repeat the procedure or dig up the mint plant and destroy it.

Mint Rust Follow-up Precautions

If your mint ends up with this herb disease but you don’t want to destroy your infected mint plant and would like to encourage it back to life, quarantine it in its own pot and keep it well away from all your other herbs. 

Use the straw fire treatment described above and watch carefully for signs of mint rust when the mint starts to grow the following season.  Also use the straw fire treatment on the soil where your mint used to grow to combat this herb disease in the long term.

I thoroughly recommend always growing mint in a pot on top of your herb garden (if you’ve got one) or on your patio.  This will help to restrict root growth and enable you to deal quickly with infected plants.   Use your pot just for mint.  You can make it more interesting by having a number of varieties of mint in the same pot.

Don’t despair if you get the herb disease mint rust on your growing mint; it happens to all herb gardeners at least once during their herb growing lives!

Happy herb gardening,

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