6

I use thin rubber gloves when gardening.

It's autumn here in zone 6, and I'm in the process of pruning and pulling up spent perennials and all manner of wildflowers which have been growing since the spring. I leave them until the bees, butterflies and insects have had their fill of the flowers, at which point many have visible leaf mold, fungal diseases, and insect damage.

In a different area, healthy annuals such as marigolds, dahlias, petunias, verbena, begonias, cosmos and snapdragons, will continue to produce flowers until frost if I keep dead-heading them. I also have shrubs that are fine and just need the usual preparation for winter.

I generally handle a variety of plants in one gardening session, but have begun to wonder if diseases can live on the rubber gloves, and if so, for how long. Can they be deposited on, and cause damage to, un-infected plants?

Should I rinse or change gloves between tasks, or is my concern unfounded?

7

It's certainly possible to spread some fungal infections on gardening gloves and tools you may have used. Given you're wearing rubber gloves, after handling diseased plant material, its sensible to go indoors and wash your gloved hands, in a similar manner to that you would use if you weren't wearing gloves, in between healthy and non healthy plants; the same way you'd clean and sterilize your secateurs or shears between healthy and non healthy plant material. Either that or start with the healthy plants and make clearing the unhealthy ones the last job you do rather than the first. I don't worry about this personally at this time of year, except where I might transfer infection to more permanent planting such as shrubs - my gloves are actually leather or thick fabric anyway, so washing in between isn't an option.

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