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Trees are a significant investment that can require many years of careful monitoring to reach their true potential. Although you may have picked out hardy species for your Georgia property, you still must be aware of common diseases that can infect your trees.

If you let infections run rampant on your property, you can end up with a lot of dead trees. Check out the most common tree diseases in Georgia, as well as their symptoms and potential remedies.

Oak tree


If you see wilting leaves on a tree, you can expect there to be an issue. Oak wilt is a tree disease that primarily affects species of oak. It is prolific in the southern U.S. states including Georgia. Red oak species are the most susceptible to this disease. However, white oak species are more resistant to oak wilt. If you are concerned about this disease on your property, you will be safer in choosing post, white, or chestnut oak trees. However, oak wilt slowly kills your white oaks.

Like its name, the main symptom of this disease is wilting leaves. Wilting in oak leaves appears as brown spots on the edges. As more leaves wilt and die, the tree becomes more compromised. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse oak wilt in an infected tree. You can only try to prevent the spread of the disease to surrounding trees. Use a systemic fungicide on other oak trees on your property to help protect them.


Chlorosis is usually a symptom of a much larger problem. You can tell the difference between healthy leaves and leaves with chlorosis from their color. Leaves should be a vibrant green, but chlorosis gives them a yellowish tinge.

Phytophthora root rot is one of the most common diseases that cause chlorosis. It impacts many species, including azaleas, firs, boxwoods, white pines, dogwoods, and more. Dogwood trees are popular in Georgia, which means you should keep an eye out for this disease if you have any on your property.

You can manage Phytophthora root rot better if you catch it early on before it compromises too much of the tree. Too much moisture in the soil will exacerbate the issue. If you can improve the soil drainage you can then use a pesticide to slow the disease in its tracks.

Leaf Spots

Spots on leaves are a sign of anthracnose. Anthracnose, a common disease in Georgia, appears as discolored marks on the leaves and stems of oaks, sycamores, walnuts, maples, and dogwoods.

The longer that this disease is left unchecked, the more impact it can have on your trees. This disease causes defoliation and twig dieback.

You can stop the spread of anthracnose by pruning away the symptomatic twigs and branches. Regularly fertilize all of the trees around your house to keep them healthy. The best time to treat leaf spots is in early spring, as leaves begin to grow. You can use a type of spray designed for foliage.


If you notice leaves turning brown far too early in the year, they might be exhibiting necrosis. Necrosis is a symptom of bacterial leaf scorch. This type of leaf scorch is the result of infection by Xylella fastidiosa. It impacts sycamores, oaks, London planes, blackberries, mulberries, elms, sweetgums, and several species of maple.

Bacterial leaf scorch is more common in trees that experience a lot of stress. In Georgia, where the temperatures are higher, there are plenty of environmental stressors. To avoid stress during long periods of hot, dry weather, make sure to water your trees thoroughly. Fertilize consistently as a way to give the tree nutrients to fight off bacterium.

Try to catch bacterial leaf scorch in the early stages. A professional tree trimmer can remove a few branches before the disease overtakes the tree.

Tip Dieback

Tip dieback is a symptom of needle cast observed in pine and spruce trees. You will notice infected needles turning yellow or spotted in color around mid to late summer. As time goes on, they turn bright yellow and then brown. The name ‘needle cast’ refers to the dropping of the needles after they turn brown and die.

Rhizosphaera is the most common type of needle cast among evergreens in Georgia. In low areas, hemlocks and pines are more affected; in higher land, you will see fir and spruce trees infected with needle cast. In contrast to bacterial leaf scorch, needle cast more often occurs due to cool, rainy weather.

You must collect and dispose of the cast needles to prevent the spread to more trees as infected needles produce spores that the wind can move around. So in order to save a tree, you can prune out damaged branches and ask a professional to use a fungicide in the spring.

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