The Q&A Archives: Dusty Leaves

Question: I have an old fashioned Lilac bush which my Grandmother gave me a few years ago. This summer I have noticed pale green leaves with a dusty appearance to the leaves. This "dust" will not rub off. I have fertilized with Miracle Grow and the bush seems to be happy in its current planting location. Please advise on what is going on with this sentimental plant.

Answer: Based on your description it sounds like the plant has been attacked by powdery mildew which looks a bit like talcum powder on the leaves. It is frequently seen on old fashioned lilacs and will not usually kill the plant although it makes it unsightly. Good air circulation and avoiding wetting the leaves may help prevent it. You could also treat it with a fungicide labeled for mildew on lilacs, but it is not strictly necessary.

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