Can you spot a rotter?

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CORAL spot is a fungal disease of woody plants and seems to be particularly bad this winter.

I tend to use old tree boughs and branches to keep the cat off newly-dug soil, or as supports for climbers and peas/beans.

Unfortunately, many of these are beech, one of coral spot’s favourite hosts.

You’ll recognise its small coral-pink raised spots, which form on dead branches.

It can also affect living plants, first infecting dead tissue and causing further dieback.

As the fungus (Nectria cinnabarina) is a weak pathogen, its presence often indicates that the plant also has other problems.

Acer (Japanese maple), Aesculus (horse chestnut), Carpinus (hornbeam), Fagus (beech), Juglans (walnut) and Tilia (plane) are among the more susceptible to attack. It is rarely found on conifers.

There’s no doubt that the extremely damp and mild weather has boosted the fungus.

Make sure you prune in dry weather. Cut branches through the collar (ring of slight swelling found at the base of branches).

Wounds heal quickest here. If dieback happens after pruning, remove dead material to avoid further infection.

Prune out infections promptly and cut back to healthy wood. Do not leave dead wood lying around to generate spores, as there are no specific chemical controls.

If you must prune in wet weather, or if the plant is susceptible, use a wound paint to protect the cut.

However, wound paints are not recommended for routine use as they can interfere with healing.