The Q&A Archives: mildew on plants

Question: What to do about mildew on my plants

Answer: What you describe sounds like powdery mildew, a fungal disease. It is most common in spring and fall when days are warm and nights are cool. It tends to attack plants where air circulation is poor and the plants are stressed in some way. Some plants are more resistant to powdery mildew than others. Fungicides available to the home gardener for powdery mildew control are myclobutanil (available as various products and formulations, including Bio Systhane Fungus Fighter (liquid concentrate), Bio Fungus Fighter (ready-to-use spray) and Roseclear 3 (which also contains an insecticide for pest control)), penconazole (Fungus Clear), flutriafol ( Roseclear Gun!: also contains an insecticide), and sulphur as a dust (Vitax Green or Yellow Sulphur). Check the labels carefully before choosing, as pesticides may only legally be used on the range of plants specified on the label. Occasionally, the label will also list certain cultivars that may be damaged by the application of a specific fungicide. An alternative to chemical treatments would be to prune off the infected plant parts and dispose of them. The following measures will reduce susceptibility to the disease: Keep plants well watered, so they are not dry at the roots. Mulch to preserve soil moisture. Improve air-flow around plants to reduce humidity. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, as these encourage soft sappy growth that is more easily colonized by fungi. Ensure plants are in their ideal position. For example, a sun-lover will struggle in shade and be at greater risk of infection. Hope your plants recover quickly!

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