University of Maryland Extension

Stem Cankers of Houseplants

crown rot aloe

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Cankers or lesions on stem can be caused by fungal and bacterial pathogens. The symptoms usually include a dark sunken area on a stem or branch that encircles or girdles the tissue and kills the remaining stem portion. The plant may appear yellowed or wilted if the canker is near the base of the stem. The canker may also cause the tissue to appear watery or mushy and if caused by a fungus may have fruiting bodies with spores along the canker margins.

Management Strategies:  There are no cures for cankers once they are causing symptoms. Affected branches or stems should be pruned off and removed below the canker. Severely infected plants may have to be discarded. Any method that will lower the humidity, decrease plant wetness or increase air circulation will help to lessen the chances of infection. Watering should be done early in the day to allow plant surfaces time to dry quickly. Space plants so that air can circulate between them to help reduce moisture. Registered pesticides can be used, but in most home conditions, removal of infected plant parts and adjustment of environmental conditions to drier conditions should help.

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