Managing myrtle rust on your property

Myrtle rust is an unwanted organism in New Zealand. This means there are rules that apply for how you manage infected plants.

Choose how you want to manage myrtle rust

If you own or manage land with plants that are infected with myrtle rust, you can either:

Note, if you're transporting, and disposing of, infected plant material, you must comply with the general permission conditions issued by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Download MPI's permission document

Myrtle rust map

Use our map to find out if your property is in an area infected with the disease. You can type your address or place name into the search box at the top of the map, or zoom in to your location. If your property is in an area marked red on the map, it's in an infected area. The green dots on the map indicate the position of landfills and transfer stations.

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Managing myrtle rust in your nursery

Because myrtle rust continues to be an unwanted organism in New Zealand, owners of nurseries infected with myrtle rust have specific responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act 1993. This includes:

  • not knowingly moving, releasing, or spreading myrtle rust
  • not exhibiting, propagating or selling plants that you know or suspect are visibly infected with myrtle rust.

It is strongly recommended that all nursery operators follow the guidelines available from the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI) website. NZPPI provides guidance on myrtle rust protocols and has resources specifically designed for nurseries to manage myrtle rust.

Care for and manage infected plants

You are not required to remove infected plants. You may leave the plant in place and monitor the progress of myrtle rust on the infected plant.

If you leave your plants, what happens to them will vary depending on the species, size, and their general health. Monitoring the progression of the disease on different myrtle species will be useful in determining resistant plants or individuals in the long-term.

Some myrtle plants, particularly larger, established trees, may be able to survive an initial infection. It's possible they will remain productive and continue to grow, flower, produce seed, and provide a home for other plants, birds, and insects.

We recommend you avoid heavy pruning during warm weather, if possible. Otherwise, it could encourage susceptible new growth.

Remove or prune infected plants

If you choose to remove or prune infected plants, you may require specialist equipment and technical skills. We recommend you consider hiring an arborist or contractor to remove infected plants on your property, especially if you have large trees.

A step-by-step guide is also available to help you.

Disposing of infected material securely

To dispose of your myrtle rust infected plant material, you can:

  • bury the infected material on site (at 50cm depth), or
  • take the material to a landfill or transfer station provided that it is securely contained during transport, and is disposed of as general waste and not compost.

Because myrtle rust is an unwanted organism, you must comply with the general permission granted by MPI’s chief technical officer when transporting, and disposing of, infected plant material.

Download MPI's permission document

Advice on fungicide usage

No fungicide that specifically targets myrtle rust is available. MPI does not recommend the use of fungicide sprays to treat myrtle rust because:

  • they require continuous applications
  • in New Zealand conditions, they appear to only temporarily suppress the disease and its symptoms, rather than kill the disease
  • they present potential environmental and health risks. They cannot be used near water or fruit and vegetable plants and can kill bees and other beneficial insects
  • fungal rusts are well known for quickly developing resistance to fungicides. If this occurs, this may limit long-term abilities to suppress the disease in important places.
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