Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

How to Spot, Treat, and Prevent Common Garlic Diseases

Withered garlic stems

Garlic diseases can be caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and they can be spread through the soil, water, air, infected tools, animals, and even gardeners themselves.

Check your garlic plants for symptoms early and often, so you can treat plants before they are destroyed by disease and successfully manage symptoms. Here is a three-step approach to keeping vigilant:

Research the Risks. Research garlic diseases that are prevalent in your geographic area. When possible, buy disease-resistant seed garlic, usually these are cloves that have been heat-treated before sale.

Examine Daily. Check your plants daily to be sure no disease symptoms are present or emerging.

Spot Diseases Early. Catch and treat diseases quickly, so your plants can recover and thrive.

Garlic diseases can affect the leaves, stems, or bulbs of the plants. Here is what to look for to spot possible infection:

Leaves—possible disease symptoms:

  • White powdery mildew or spots
  • Yellowed foliage
  • Curled leaves

Stems—possible disease symptoms:

  • Yellowed or soft stems
  • Stunted growth

Bulbs—possible disease symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Rot or softness

Garlic with white rot

Common Garlic Diseases

Garlic is fairly resistant to diseases, but there are some that you should be aware of.

White Rot

This is a devastating disease for garlic. Caused by a fungus, signs of white rot are stunted growth, early yellowing and death of outer leaves followed by the remaining leaves and stem. The actual garlic bulb will show spots of white rot around its base.

Avoiding and Treating White Rot: This disease is usually introduced in seed garlic, so buy from reputable suppliers. Applying a fungicide to soil before planting may help control the disease.

Downy Mildew

Symptoms include a whitish, furry growth on the leaves with eventual yellowing. Downy mildew can kill young plants and stunt the growth of older plants.

Avoiding and Treating Downy Mildew: Moist conditions are required for this disease, so plant garlic with the required space it needs and avoid overwatering and moist soil.

Have you experienced any of these diseases with your garlic plants? Have you tried any of our remedies? Or do you have some of your own tips for treating and avoiding garlic plant diseases? Please share your ideas in the comments below.


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