The Q&A Archives: Ornamentals Less Susceptible to Powdery Mildew

Question: I want to grow a vine in an area that I thought got alot of air circulation, but doesn't so I am getting powdery mildew growing on anything I try to grow on that trellis. It is an area that gets plenty of sun in the summer but not in the spring. Any ideas on what plants (vines and flowering) I can plant in this area? Would peony fall prey to powdery mildew in this spot? B. Olson Rio Rancho, NM

Answer: As it turns out, powdery mildew is unlike other fungal diseases in that frequent, hard rain actually inhibits the establishment of the disease by washing the spores from plant leaves. Good air circulation in a shady area is actually ideal for powdery mildew, while full inhibits its growth. There are ornamentals less susceptible to powdery mildew that would do well in this spot, so long as they receive some sun during spring days. Peonies are not commonly susceptible to powdery mildew, but they do need a rich, well drained, humusy soil to do really well. Cape Figwort (Phygelius capensis) is a tall-growing perennial (6') that has bold, red, tubular blooms. It does well in hot sun and dry soil, and has a long flowering season. I'm truly not sure if this is resistant to powdery mildew, but it is not on my list of succeptible plants. A source for Cape Figwort is Heronswood Nursery Ltd., 7530 288th NE, Kingston, WA 98631; ph#360-342-4856. They should be able to tell you more about it. Another vine is silver lacevine (Polygonumaubertii) available from Lamb Nurseries, Rt 1, box 460B, Long Beach, WA 98631; ph#360-642-4856.

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