Zenith Zoysia dying

Zenith Zoysia dying

lennyk – posted 09 January 2007 06:11


My 3 month Zenith seedlings are dying, they are going brown from the tips of the leaves then the entire plant goes brown and dead.After it is dead the brown leaves/stalks pull out very easily.I have not seen any insects eating below but I tried spraying with diazinon to see if it helps but it does not appear to be helping.

Check the seedling in the centre of this picture and you will see it jsut starting to brown.http://img222.imageshack.us/img222/4029/p1100550ki1.jpg

TexanOne – posted 11 January 2007 01:35

Did you use any herbicides?

If you didn’t use herbicides, I would suspect it is a fungal problem. The ground appears wet in the photo which may be aggravating the fungal problem (maybe it was just watered?). The seedlings are the size now where they should be cycled about 2x/week bewteen moist and dry.

It also appears you have enough healthy seedlings so you will still have complete coverage in time, but if you have large, totally dead areas, those will have to be reseeded.

lennyk – posted 11 January 2007 04:56

It has been raining off and on so so nothing can be done about the soil being wet.

Is there any fungicide I can try to save what’s left ?

TexanOne – posted 12 January 2007 01:57

I am going to take a guess that you have damping-off disease of the Zenith seedlings. It appears that way from the photo. I don’t know what you have available to you in Trinidad for fungicides to help you, but here is a good website for more information:


I’m sure if you do a Google search for “damping-off disease”, you will find even more advice.

One thing I read with interest in the above link was the use of vinegar to create an acidic soil condition that is toxic to fungal growth. This may be worth a try if you cannot find any suitable chemical controls.

Please keep us informed about the progress of your Zenith. I admire your patience and persistence in getting a Zenith lawn!

TexanOne – posted 12 January 2007 02:09

By the way LennyK, the seedlings also appear of the age and size to begin producing stolons and rhizomes and begin to spread. I believe when that happens, you will see fast growth and sod produced which will overcome any fungal problems by simply growing faster than the fungus can attack the individual plants.

I would go ahead and attack the fungal problem (if that’s what it is), but I think you will have mature Zenith sod within several months – even if you did nothing at all. The photo of the seedlings actually appear quite good. Let’s hope you don’t have any more soil washouts.

TexanOne – posted 12 January 2007 02:21

I just thought of something else that I used to control fungal diseases in St Augustine last summer – cow manure. If you don’t have a source for cow manure, you can try almost any other commercial-grade types (not sure what you have available to you).

Texas A&M is using cow manure to control Take All Root Rot, which is a fungal disease that attacks many species of turfgrasses in Texas during the hot, humid summers.

lennyk – posted 12 January 2007 09:21

From reading the info it does look like a form of damping fungus.

I will try some fungicide this weekend, hopefully the dry season is going to start very soon. Some of the seedling have already started sending runners so hopefully within a month I should have decent coverage and be on the home stretch.

See pics here


TexanOne – posted 15 January 2007 01:46

From the photos, the Zenith looks like it is well on it’s way to being fully established. I think you are finally home free and will have a thick sod within a few months.

Let us know if the fungicide helped the dying problem…

lennyk – posted 15 January 2007 14:28

yes, its only about 200 sq feet but it has been a long hard road given our unpredictable and severe rainy season.

it does appear that zenith is well suited for my climate and soil here, they are beginning to grow vigorously now.

lennyk – posted 16 January 2007 06:33

The fungus is still killing the turf,

I sprayed with a fungicide, I also spread corn meal which is touted as a natural soil fungicide.

I am operating on hope right now.

lennyk – posted 18 January 2007 07:10

Problem is getting worse as well as more rain has been falling.

A lot of the larger seedlings are now affected to some extent or another.

The fungicide I used initially appears to not be working (?mycin)

I have obtained some pyraclostrobin and just sprayed with this, its a bit expensive.

TexanOne – posted 20 January 2007 02:59

I don’t know what else it could be besides a fungal problem? From the close up photos of the soil, it’s hard to tell exactly but it doesn’t appear to have much organic matter present, or I cannot see it. I know you are in Trinidad in the West Indies – is your soil sandy, coral / shale mix, volcanic in origin, or what? Any chance you have sea water intrusion?

I would highly recommend the addition of organic matter. A peat moss / manure mix was used at Texas A&M with good results on St Augustine grass during hot, humid conditions to control many fungal problems and Take All Root Rot. The procedure should work for any type of turfgrass:


lennyk – posted 22 January 2007 05:20

the soil is ok, it has a lot of little stones which show on the surface because of the amount of rain and soil washout we have been getting.

It appears the pyraclostrobin has helped so far as along with no rain in the last few days so lets see how it goes.

Many of them have started runners so this would at least imply that they are not suffering from soil quality.

TexanOne – posted 23 January 2007 03:17

LennyK – would appreciate you keeping us posted about how the Zenith is coming along. This spring, my Zenith will be 8 years old. I have had mixed success with it, but our climates and soils are very different.

In a hot arid summer / cold moist winter climate, Zenith seems to grow very well when given a little afternoon shade during the summer. In full sun, or shady conditions, it has all but disappeared and “native” Texas Common St Augustine has taken over. Overall, I would not recommend seeded Zenith, but I would tend to believe you may have a much better experience with it in the tropical climate of Trinidad.

Zenith seems to suffer greatly in the very hot and dry summers of western Texas. It’s water need is also a little excessive considering watering restrictions and that we only get about 18” of rainfall / year.

Of the 4,000 ft2 of Zenith I planted in the spring of 1999, only about 300 ft2 remain as a pure stand. Where it remains pure is an area shaded by the house everyday by 2pm, and during the hottest part of the summer day. The remaining 3,700 ft2 of turf is now almost totally Texas Common St Augustine – which seems to be far better adapted in this climate anyway.

At any rate, I would like to hear more about your Zenith and how it turns out for you in the future. Good luck!

lennyk – posted 23 January 2007 04:47

Did yours start good then eventually deteriorate after some time ?

I’ve posted couple more pics athttp://20.fotopic.net/c1120943.html

[This message has been edited by lennyk (edited 23 January 2007).]

TexanOne – posted 24 January 2007 12:02

The Zenith started out fairly well when I planted the seed in March 1999, but it was very slow to begin developing stolons and rhizomes. By the fall of 1999, I had solid visual coverage but the quantity of water required just to keep it alive was much more than either Bermudagrass or St Augustine.

Eventually what happened to my Zenith was it was overrun by St Augustine that is predominantly in my neighborhood, even though the Zenith was in a curbed and protected location. I still have some areas of Zenith that are very thick, totally weed-free, and unable to be invaded by St Augustine, but these areas are very small now and in ideal exposures favoring the Zenith.

I selected Zenith over Bermudagrass and St Augustine in a renovated turf area because of its advertised and implied reduced water requirement. From experience and what I have learned over the years, I now believe Zenith (or any other Zoysia Japonica species) is better adapted to warm/hot/humid climates with abundant rainfall.

I have also tried El Toro, Palisades, Empire, and Cavalier Zoysias in different areas of my yard. I do not believe there are any significant differences between the quality or water usage of any of them, except for Palisades, which seems to produce slightly thicker sod and is a little faster in growth.

From my experience, I believe there are three major limiting factors for success with Zoysia:

1: Water / Soil Quality. Zoysia seems to be far more sensitive to water quality verses other warm season grasses (i.e., St Augustine). Zoysia will respond very well with abundant rainfall as opposed to marginal-quality irrigation water. Zoysia also seems to be much better adapted to neutral or slightly acid soil pH than alkaline conditions.

2: Climate: Zoysia will tend to suffer in a hot, dry, arid condition no matter how much water is applied, but this is somewhat true for any turfgrass. It just seems that Zoysia suffers more from the effects of hot, dry conditions than other warm season grasses.

3: Sun / Shade Exposure: In my environment, Zoysia seems best adapted to filtered sunlight through a medium-density tree canopy, or with full morning sun only. Full sun for most of a hot summer day cooks the Zoysia, and shade only produces a very slow and sparse turf.

Overall, I would tend to believe you would have great success with Zoysia because of your tropical, warm, and wet climate and that it is contained in an isolated bed. Zoysia was naturally occurring throughout that type of climate zone in Asia anyway.

I would like to give you one important tip about the cutting height – cut it high. Although the recommended cutting height of Zenith is listed as 1.5” to 2”, I noticed the turfgrass was far less stressed with cutting heights of 3”. With the higher cutting height, the Zenith developed sod faster and was able to endure the rigors of a harsh climate better. Perhaps the higher cutting height shaded the ground better and kept the turf cooler during the summer – I’m not sure.

TexanOne – posted 24 January 2007 12:10

By the way, from the more recent photos, it appears your Zenith is coming along very nicely. I think you’re home free and it will continue to develop into a thick sod within a few months – even with the minor setbacks of an occasional fungal attack. Good Job!

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar