Diseases Diseases

What Is Phytotoxicity

Defining Phytotoxicity Defining Phytotoxicity


Phytotoxicity can simply be described as plant poisoning. It is the damage to plants caused by insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers. This usually occurs when a substance is sprayed onto plants; those plants may have negative affects afterwards. Negative effects may include death, abnormal growth or discoloration of plants.

Occurrence of Phytotoxicity

There are many ways that phytotoxicity can happen and there are usual and different time frames wherein the effects will be observed. Just like humans, plants react to agents that may cause illnesses and diseases.

Over-spraying or too much substance prayed onto plants can result in phytotoxicity. The plants may tolerate a substance in smaller doses, but sometimes plant growers, aware or not, they over fill their plants only to find out that they are already poisoning them. This is the main reason why most of the lawn and garden products have directions and suggested dosages stated in their packages.

Some substances do not cause harmful effects to plants the first time they are used and sprayed. Phytotoxicity may result after a number of uses although the first and initial use provided no negative signs. This could be explained by some factors such as;

 • The grower is not giving enough time between each application that is why the chemicals are building up.

• The possibility that the weather impacts certain substances. This can happen when there is lack of rain or the chemicals that work best in cooler climates are subjected to excessive heat.

 Another cause of phytotoxicity in plant is dirty equipment. Growers can poison their plants without them knowing it simply because they have not properly cleaned their spray bottles or tanks.

Phytotoxicity of Pesticides to Plants

Here are five types of damages that commonly occur in plants:

 1. Burn – This type of damage may be observed on the tip, the margins or the entire surface of the leaf may appear burned.

2. Chlorosis – May appear as spots, tips are yellowing or as a general chlorosis of the entire leaf. Chlorosis is the effect wherein the plant loses its chlorophyll.

3. Stunting – Also known as abnormal growth of the plant

4. Necrosis – Death of the plant tissues

5. Leaf Distortion – The leaf appears curling, crinkling or cupping.

Phytotoxicity produces a combination of two or more of the five symptoms stated above. The newly grown plant is most likely to show damage when sprays are applied.

Guidelines to Help Reduce Phytotoxicity

Caring for our plants is just like caring for our pets. We want our plants to be healthy and free from any organisms that may cause harmful effects to them. In that sense, we give substances to keep them away from these harmful agents. Here are some guidelines to help reduce phytotoxicity to our plants:

 • Don’t apply pesticides under circumstances which will not dry it up. Never spray plants when they are in need of water. Dry plants are extremely vulnerable to spray injury.

• Another important precaution to avoid plant damage is to make 3 or 4 preliminary spray applications at 3 to 7 day intervals.


• Read the labels and brochures concerning the particular pesticide that you are about to use onto the plants. Do not overdose.

• Clean your sprayers, tanks, hose and nozzles after every use.

By Felix Go, published at 02/19/2012
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What Is Phytotoxicity. 4 of 5 based on 10 votes.

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