The Q&A Archives: Akebia Mildew

Question: The leaves on my Akebia had a type of mildew or fungus last year. It also seemed to attract aphids. Is there anything I can do to prevent it this spring?

Answer: Akebia, commonly known as chocolate vine, is a deciduous or semi-evergreen vine from China. Vigorous growing, this plant benefits from annual pruning and recovers quickly when cut to ground level.

I have a hunch that your problem may have occured the other way around: Aphids secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. Sometimes a sooty mold then grows on the honeydew.

Aphids can be kept under control with a strong spray of water from the hose to remove them from the vine. Garlic, insecticidal soap, and pyrethrum sprays also are effective. Prepare to prevent an out-of-control aphid infestation. This fall, clean up all litter and nonessential mulches. Remove all old plants to the trash or compost bin to leave the soil completely bare. You could also plant some beneficial insect attractants in your garden. Plants such as anise, coriander, dill, and Queen Anne's lace attract a wealth of beneficial insects that parasitize or prey upon aphids.

Removing debris under the plant will also help control fungal diseases. Improving air circulation around the vine also is important, so thin out thick foliage and remove nearby weeds. If you find you continue to have trouble with powdery mildew or other leaf diseases, one or more applications of sulfur applications may be warranted.

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