Increasing plant immunity?

San Francisco, CA

I have seen posts on IPM, the use of beneficials as well as organic products but does anyone focus on increasing plants' immunity for better health and thus less susceptibility to diseases, pests and stress? Even the sudden heat across much of the country now can stress plants and make them more susceptible to problems. I would love to hear tricks and methods for strengthening plants' natural defenses (immunity).

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

An interesting concept. You might need to ask this to researchers in ag universities. I know they work on breeding new plants with resistance but I think you are asking if there is a way to work with the plants you already have to increase resistance, yes? I wonder if providing plants with an optimal environment (great soil, proper watering, sun requirements, nutrients, protecting from bugs and diseases, singing to them, etc.) would naturally grow more resistant plants? Sounds like more attention than I am able to give my plants! Let us know if you find out anything. Janet

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

I keep hearing that with the proper supplements and micronutrients, plants are less likely to fall prey to diseases and predators, but I'm not sure whether that actually works and I'm also not inclined to take such a scientific approach to my garden. I like the fact that it's organic and a riot of colors, shapes, textures, flowers and veggies, and getting too cerebral about it would ruin some of the joy it gives me.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

There used to be a product called Messenger which claimed to do just that. The company that made it went out of business or something and it got sold to someone else so I think it may still be out there today under a different name. It wasn't organic, although it appeared to be fairly safe, so if you garden organically because you don't want to kill good bugs or poison your family with pesticide residues then it would have been fine, but if you garden organically so that you can sell your organic produce somewhere, then you wouldn't be able to use it.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I think Messenger is also called Harpin.

San Francisco, CA

Thanks all for the comments. I know that harpin is/was the active ingredient in Messenger and it seems that a lot of people liked the product for stimulating plant immunity. And as a disclosure I do work on developing garden products that contain jasmonate (a natural plant molecule first found in jasmine) that also stimulates immunity for greater tolerance to environmental stress. I am just interested in what people do naturally to accomplish similar results. I have read that yes, adding the micronutrients and providing the proper growing environment does contribute to greater plant immunity.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

It's been my experience that if I feed the soil, and feed the birds, the vegetable plants do a great job of feeding me.

San Francisco, CA

Healthy soil definitely helps. From what I scientific papers I read, good nutrition (for plants) as well as beneficial microbes not only make the vegetables healthy and taste better but increase the plants' immunity and tolerance to stress, insects, diseases, etc..

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