A ground cover succulent known as Red Apple ice plant (Aptenia cordifolia) has been a main staple of the San Diego landscape for years. However, this popular varietal was hit hard with a fungus called downy mildew last winter, leaving many properties brown and bare. With wet, cooler months approaching, Heaviland Landscape Management urges property owners and managers to take steps now to prevent new downy mildew outbreaks and protect their Red Apple ice plants.
Primarily, Red Apple ice plant is used on slopes along roadways and hillsides surrounding properties, as its roots are helpful in preventing soil runoff. The downy mildew fungus thrives in damp, dark, cool conditions. It eats away at bright green ground cover, leaving slopes full of brown and decayed ice plant.
To help business and commercial property owners prevent their property from downy mildew devastation, Heaviland Landscape Management suggests these preventative measures:
· Limit use of overhead irrigation during the evening hours, as the moisture combined with dark conditions can create a breeding ground for the downy mildew fungus
· Thin nearby trees and shrubs to increase light and improve airflow so the Red Apple ice plant leaves will dry faster after irrigation
· Apply fungicide before a downy mildew infection occurs, as once a plant is affected it cannot be cured
“A proactive approach is the best way to manage and prevent outbreak this winter,” said Bernie Buggs, branch manager for Heaviland Landscape Management. “Landscape managers should ensure proper growing conditions as suggested and apply preemptive fungicide applications now, as the weather cools.”