The Q&A Archives: Mildew-like Coating On Lilac Stems

Question: I have noticed two separate times this summer, a fuzzy mildew-like covering on the stems of my lilac bush. Every stem is covered from the ground up to a height of approximately 2 feet. The shrub seems in no distress. When you brush some off, it looks like tiny rice grains on your fingers. It doesn't seem to fit the description of mealy bugs. Do you have any idea of what this could be and how to control it? Thank you in advance for your help.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I am not certain what has been happening to your lilac although it may be a scale infestation. Lilacs are subject to mildew infections but in my experience the mildew would not be like grains of rice, instead, it would seem powdery. I would suggest that next season, as soon as you see it beginning, consult with your county extension (696-3500) for a specific diagnosis and suggestions as to what to do. If it is scale, it needs to be treated because it can eventually kill the plant. Mildew on the other hand is unsightly but not lethal. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.

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