The Q&A Archives: Fungus In Soil

Question: An old oak tree was removed from my parent's backyard in Glendora, many years ago. Recently, this year they are having a problem with plants dying. They have been told that fungus is spreading in the soil. What is this and how can they alleviate the problem from killing more of their shrubs and plants?

Answer: Oak root fungus (Armillaria mellea) sustains itself on buried wood (mostly dead roots), but it will invade susceptible plants through direct contact with their roots. Even though the oak tree is gone, the fungus will remain in the soil for as long as it has a source of food. Your best approach is to use resistant plants. The following shrubs are resistant to oak root fungus:

Acacia, Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet), Boxwood, Calycanthus (spice bush), Carpenteria (bush anemone), Chaenomeies (flowering quince), Clerodendrum bungei (cashmere bouquet), Guava, Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon), Lonicera nitida (box honeysuckle), Nandina (heavenly bamboo), Rhus (sumac), and Shepherdia argentea (silver buffaloberry). Most annual and perennial flowers are resistant, as well.

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