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IPM & PHC: What are they?

Integrated Pest Management or IPM is a subset of the larger umbrella term called Plant Health Care or PHC. The predominant goal of IPM is to use a combination of tactics to reduce pest populations or to maintain them at non-damaging levels.

IPM seeks to control plant pests, including insects and diseases, by a variety of methods. These methods include:

  1. Mechanical control or simply picking insects off a leaf or pruning off a diseased branch.
  2. Cultural control like thinning branches in a crabapple or lilac to increase air circulation around the foliage to control powdery mildew.
  3. Biological control, for example, is using ladybugs to control aphids.
  4. Chemical control, for example, is using topical sprays to manage insects and diseases.

Plant Health Care evolved from Integrated Pest Management. While IPM focuses on controlling pests, PHC focuses on appropriately managing plant care. It attempts to prevent problems through proper planting, site selection and maintenance. Ninety percent of landscape plant problems diagnosed today are not pest problems. Sure, insects and diseases may be present, but the pests are only there because the plant is stressed or there is a cultural problem. For example, wood boring insects will only attack a plant that is environmentally stressed. Crabapples are more susceptible to powdery mildew when watered at night and the leaves remain wet for several hours.

Many pests can be managed without chemical controls by following PHC principals.

For "Plant Health Care" refer to message number 1739.

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Updated Friday, August 08, 2014