Treating myrtle rust in home gardens

The fungus responsible for myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) can produce abundant airborne and surprisingly sticky spores. Myrtle rust is now an established disease in Victoria, which means it can't be eradicated. The following advice will help check its spread in your garden.

Help with diagnosis

Correct diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. Check the host list and symptoms and contact us for information and help.

Prevent the spread of disease

If myrtle rust is on your property, start treatment as soon as practical and in the meantime:

  • Do not touch, move or collect any material from suspect plants.
  • Do not go to another part of your garden, or another property after handling suspect material.

Treatment options

You might need to combine two or more of these strategies to achieve effective control.

Remove and dispose of infected plants

Infected plants should be removed and disposed of in a way that minimises the spread of myrtle rust.

Spray plants

Spray infected and unaffected plants with a fungicide three to four days before removal.

If fungicide treatment is not possible, carefully wet the plants before removal to dampen any spores that are likely to be dispersed during removal. Alternatively, especially if a small plant is affected, hairspray could be applied to stick down the spores onto the affected plant.

Remove plants

Small plants should be enclosed in a plastic bag before being either pulled or dug out.

For potted plants, the whole plant, plus the pot, should be placed into the bag and sealed.

Larger plants that do not fit in waste bins can be cut into smaller pieces, securely covered with black plastic or similar

If possible, place the bags in a sunny place for three to four weeks to kill spores, especially if the plants were not treated with fungicide.

Dispose of plants

Dispose of bagged plants by:

  • burying on-site
  • placing in general domestic waste bins, or
  • transporting in a covered vehicle or trailer to a general waste disposal site (not a green waste site).

Do not use infected plants as mulch.

Remove and dispose of healthy plants as a preventative measure

To reduce the risk of a significant infection developing on your property, you can remove plant species that are known to be highly susceptible to myrtle rust before infection:

  • Healthy plants that show no signs of infection can be discarded as normal garden waste.
  • If you're unsure whether plants are infected with myrtle rust, follow the spray, remove, dispose process previously outlined under 'Remove and dispose of infected plants'.

Please note: You might need a planning permit to remove native vegetation. If you're considering this option, seek advice from your local council.

Practise good hygiene

Implementing good hygiene and decontamination practices will also aid in the control of myrtle rust.

After removing and disposing of infected plants, wash clothing and clean any equipment with water and detergent before starting other activities that may infect further plants.

Before you reuse pots, wooden stakes and other items that have been in contact with an infected plant:

  1. Thoroughly scrub all items with detergent and water.
  2. Leave them to dry completely.

Replant with resistant species

If infected plants have been removed, replanting with similar species, or other Myrtaceae plants, can result in re-infection. Choose replacement plants that are unlikely to become infected. Contact your local nursery for advice.

In bushland areas, including regeneration sites, use local plants not known to be affected by myrtle rust.

Use an approved fungicide

Chemical control is often one of the methods available for plant diseases as part of an integrated disease management program.

For information on currently registered chemicals for control of myrtle rust, check the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website. Particularly, the page on registered chemicals products (PubCRIS)’ and enter ‘myrtle rust’.

Always consult the label to determine the directions for use and read the Safety Data Sheet before using any chemical product.

More information is available from:

  • plant retail nurseries
  • cropping consultants
  • chemical resellers
  • the fungicide manufacturer.

These chemicals are available in various pack sizes. Unless necessary, avoid choosing large pack sizes so you don't have to store leftover chemicals.

If the infection is severe

In severely infected areas, susceptible host plants should be removed since re-infection after fungicide application is highly likely.

Page last updated: 08 Sep 2022