What to do if you find myrtle rust

At present, there is no cure for myrtle rust. Removing plants from your garden helps reduce the spread of the disease to other uninfected myrtles and our nearby forests.

How to report myrtle rust

Reporting sightings of myrtle rust is vital in helping scientists and agencies track the spread of the disease and its impact on New Zealand. 

If you think you see the symptoms of myrtle rust:

  • don't touch it
  • take a clear in-focus photograph of the whole plant, the affected leaf, and a close-up of the spores
  • submit the photograph to iNaturalist

Make sure you label your finds as myrtle rust, noting what host plant it has been found on. Capturing this information through iNaturalist means it will be available in future to analyse the rate of spread and observed impacts. 

Alternatively, you can report your myrtle rust sighting to: 

  • your local council
  • the Department of Conservation (DOC) if sighted on public conservation land.

For any other myrtle rust queries, contact the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). 

Video – What to do if you find myrtle rust (3.04)

Video transcript

Please note the fungicide advice in this video has changed since the filming of this content. Read updated advice.

Remember, don't touch it or try to collect samples as this may increase the spread of the disease.

How to remove infected myrtle plants

If you find myrtle rust on your property, consider removing the infected plant.

There is no requirement for landowners to remove plants with myrtle rust – it's your choice. However, removing infected plants can help protect other plants in your garden and wider local area.

For larger trees or hedges, consider using a professional arborist. Let them know that you suspect myrtle rust.

For small shrubs and branches, follow the disposal protocol in the video below.

Video – How to remove infected shrubs and branches, step by step (2.23)

Video transcript

A summary of the process is available in our guidance document.

How to remove infected myrtle plants and safely dispose of the waste [PDF, 1MB]

Further advice on helping reduce the spread

   Arrive clean, leave clean

The forest you visit could be infected with myrtle rust without you knowing it. Before entering such areas for work or recreation, you should minimise the risk of spreading the rust by ensuring your equipment, clothing, and tools arrive clean and leave the area clean.

   Avoid removing the material on windy days

Try to remove infected material on wet days. This will reduce the risk of cloud of spores being spread to other plants.

   Bury, don't burn

Dispose of infected plant waste by composting or burying at the site, or putting in plastic bags and taking to general waste. Do not burn infected plant waste as the spores will travel and spread to new areas with the smoke.

   Fungicide sprays

Fungicide sprays are an option for controlling myrtle rust, but should be used sparringly and with caution. Remember there is no cure for myrtle rust, fungicides can only help reduce infection and spore production and needs to be used frequently to be effective.

   Buy healthy plants and prune in cool weather

Make sure myrtle plants bought for your garden are free from the symptoms of myrtle rust. Inspect the leaves and stems of plants before you buy them, and avoid buying plants that have signs of disease. 

We recommend avoiding heavy pruning during warm weather as this will encourage susceptible new growth. Instead, prune myrtles only in late autumn and early winter to avoid encouraging new growth during warm weather when myrtle rust spores are more likely to form. 

   Monitor your plants

We recommend regular monitoring of myrtle plants for any sign of myrtle rust, particularly new, young growth, shoots, and seedlings.