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Dealing With Powdery Mildew

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 2 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
Mildew Powdery Mildew Plants Foliage

Powdery mildew is predominantly found in the garden. It covers foliage with a white powder that makes plants look unhealthy and unattractive. If your plants have a sprinkling of powdery mildew reaching for toxic chemicals need not be the only solution that works. Using common household ingredients that you may already have close to hand can work just as well at eradicating this unsightly problem.

Identifying Powdery Mildew

One of the most common plant diseases powdery mildew is a grey or white substance that clings to foliage in splotches. Although you may not notice the mildew spreading, until it coats the top side of the leaves of the plant, it is often detectable at the stem base, underside of the leaf or on the fruit or flower.

What Causes Powdery Mildew?

Damp or humid conditions, with poor air circulation, encourage the growth of this fungal plant disease. The spores are carried by insects, splashed water when watering and the wind and can quickly spread from one plant to another in crowded areas of planting.

Combating The Spread Of Mildew

If you have sufficient ground coverage to allow a generous space between your plants you will be able to effectively halt the spread of powdery mildew between individual plants. Space between plants will provide increased air circulation, which is essential in maintaining good plant health. Watering your plants before sundown will also help minimise the spread of mildew spores, as this will mean foliage doesn’t remain wet for too long.

Kitchen Cupboard Remedies

There are a number of kitchen ingredients that work well on powdery mildew. At the first sign of mildew you can mix 1 part of milk with 2 parts of water and apply this solution to the plant. This mix stops mildew clinging to the plant leaves and can therefore also be used successfully as a preventative measure.

Apple cider vinegar, mixed with water, forms an effective barrier to powdery mildew, which also works well at removing black spots on roses. Add 3 tablespoons of the vinegar to 1 gallon of water and spray liberally over the affected area.

Chives can also be used to help minimise the spread of powdery mildew. Chop a good-sized bunch of the herb and place in a heatproof glass container. Top with boiling water and allow to cool before straining. The solution can then be used to coat the affected foliage.

Using Shop Bought Preparations

If you must use anti-fungal preparations to remove powdery mildew it is important that you hose off the affected plants prior to treating them. This will ensure as much of the powdery substance as possible is removed from the plant’s surface. It is best to begin the treatment first thing in the morning, and to reapply once or twice a week in dry conditions. The anti-fungal solution must be applied to every bit of the plant, which includes the stem and the underside of leaves. Adding a little extra spray to the soil around the plant stem is also worth doing.

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