From ornamental plants like asters, begonias, roses, and rhododendrons to fruit-bearing trees like apples, peppers, and tomatoes, powdery mildew diseases do not care how old a plant has lived.
Powdery Mildew is a group of diseases caused by various species of fungi. They feed on their host plant slowly and steadily ensuring that the plant does not die too quickly.
Unlike other diseases, the powdery mildew disease is a selective invader, given that it does not attack different species of plants at the same time. It rather focuses on one species, before moving on to the next.
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These kinds of diseases are more pervasive in temperate regions of the world and can occur more than once in your garden.
Powdery Mildew is a problem for over ten thousand species of plants in the world and accounts for the highest crop yield loss.
Powdery Mildew diseases are very easy to spot. It is probably the reason why they have the name powdery mildew.
Their symptoms on plants include white powder-like substances or spots that expand in circumference as the day goes by.
Powdery mildew has a risk of spreading among plants that are closely clustered together, staying in humid environments.
They slowly destroy the crop leaves and move to the stems before getting to the roots where they cause root rot.
It is very necessary to eradicate and treat the powdery mildew fungi from your plants as soon as they begin to appear.
This is to minimize the quantity of the loss as well as reduce the amount of time the plant would take to recover.
Powdery mildew diseases can reproduce rapidly but their reproduction is strictly on the bodies of hosts. They reproduce both sexually and asexually.
Powdery Mildew diseases can get on plants through disease vectors like aphids and liverwort. This however does not mean that they strictly need vectors to be transmitted from one plant to another.
The spores of these fungi diseases can be transmitted from one plant to another by the air. So, there is always a high possibility of occurrence of powdery mildew on plants whether there is a history of powdery mildew in the vicinity or not.
The risk is higher when the temperature falls to something more humid.
In this article, I will be showing you all of the ways you can employ for the treatment of powdery mildew plant diseases using homemade remedies that are organic in nature.
You have to note that the organic remedy for handling mildew diseases isn’t the only remedy available.
There’s a technique that employs the use of chemicals and herbicides, but that is not the focus of this article.
Maybe, subsequent articles will show you the chemical remedies for powdery mildew diseases.
Now let’s get to work.
How Do You Know That Your Plants Have Got Powdery Mildew Diseases?
The initial symptom of powdery mildew on plants is the appearance of white spots on the leaves of the plants.
But there are other symptoms that your plants exhibit as pointers to the presence of powdery mildew diseases on them.
When powdery mildew fungi infect the leaves of plants, the underparts are the most affected. The whitish or grayish spots begin to spread from the underparts of the plants until it covers the entire plant.
Powdery Mildew diseases affect newly forming flower buds and kill them even before they fully develop into flowers. This manifests as stunted growth.
When you notice that your plants are taking more time to bud than the usual budding duration, the first suspect should be powdery mildew fungi diseases.
The spots that are initially white on the leaves should clear out on their own if it isn’t a powdery mildew fungi disease. If it is, then these spots expand, turn yellow and brown on the leaves, which is a sign of imminent death of the plants.
Powdery mildew diseases start off with the underparts of a leaf, then spread to every part of the leaf.
At the death of that leaf, it moves to the next leaf until all the leaves in the plants are destroyed, then the fungi move to the stems until it is checked and eliminated.
Wilting is another symptom of powdery mildew diseases on leaves of plants.
The leaves begin to get all twisted and drooping. It doesn’t take long before there’s no more leaf to wake up to. Thanks to powdery mildew fungi diseases work tirelessly to get rid of their leaves.
In the absence of leaves and chlorophyll pigments, most plants cannot carry out photosynthesis and so growth stops.
When growth stops, it is only a while before the plants eventually die off.
How to Control Powdery Mildew Disease With Homemade Organic Remedies
Powdery mildew diseases are not so stubborn and can easily be handled if they are discovered on time.
The plants can also recover on their own when the weather rises from a humid level to something hotter. The only risk factor with these fungi diseases is in their ability to reproduce rapidly and cover various parts of the plant in quick succession.
Controlling powdery mildews can either be done with a conventional chemical solution which involves the use of commercial pesticides and fungicides to control the growth and thriving of plants.
But, these diseases can also be controlled using homemade non-chemically toxic methods.
These methods subscribe to the principles of environmental toxicity management and do not cause pollution to the soil.
I recommend this method for handling the issue of powdery mildew diseases on plants. Apart from being conservative to the safety of the environment and climate, the organic remedies are cheap and easily affordable by low income small scale farmers.
They can be easily made at home using home based commodities.
Unlike chemical control strategies that might harm the plants or the gardener if applied wrongly, these organic procedures pose little to no risks to the plants and the gardener.
These methods include:
- Proper Plant Care
- Milk Application
- Application of Biofungicides
These methods are strictly organic and do not keep the soil dangerous or toxic after a while.
This is why I have classified them under this category and not under a general control category.
1. Proper Plant Care
Most writers love to call this method the cultural control method, but I prefer to rather call it proper plant care.
This is because, the strategies listed here, are all the plants need to fight off the powdery mildew fungal diseases every time it attacks.
Plants that are well taken care of, stay healthy enough to shield diseases like powdery mildew off their system.
If you just leave your plant to the activities of nature and soil nutrients, you will be succeeding in keeping the plants open for powdery mildew infestation.
Caring for the plant involves modifying the plant environment and nutrient requirements as the plant ages.
It involves adequate watering, good fertilizer application, the use of good soil mix, transplanting, repotting, and pruning. In a garden, proper plant care also involves good spacing of plants.
Endeavor to give plants good space in the garden as a way of preventing the quick spread of diseases.
Have your plants get enough sunlight daily as sunlight helps fight off the build-up of fungal diseases on plants and from time to time, prune weak leaf stalks off the plant.
By doing all of these, you would have succeeded in keeping fungal diseases like powdery mildew at bay.
2. Milk Application
Applying milk to plants that have gotten the powdery mildew disease is very essential for stopping the growth and reproduction of the disease in plants.
This is most effective when the fungi are just forming on the plants, that is, at the initial stages of fungal infestation.
The idea behind this method is the mixing of milk in a lot of water and sprinkling on the affected parts.
The use of milk to control powdery mildew diseases has been found effective in crops like grape, roses, and tomatoes, and can be effective in your houseplant as well.
You could make use of powdered milk as well as liquid milk.
Studies have shown that a higher concentration of milk sprinkled on the leaves of infected plants does not have any negative effect on the plants, but can rapidly kill powdery mildew.
This goes on to say that if the powdery mildew disease infestation were on a larger scale and you need very rapid results, you do not have to mix the milk in so much water.
You can also sprinkle the milk on the plants without mixing in water.
- The Use of Biofungicides
Biofungicides are fungicides that are made up of biological materials that kill pests and diseases without harming plants or causing soil toxicity.
Bio-fungicides are sold in shops where fungicides are sold but are not made up of materials that make the soil toxic.
Does Baking Soda and Water Kill Powdery Mildew?
No, it does not.
Baking soda and water lead to the formation of a baking soda solution.
Baking soda solution contains sodium bicarbonate which is only useful for the control of molds and not fungal diseases.
If you must use baking soda, it has to be as preventive medicine for fungal diseases and it does not just have to be baking soda and water.
There should be a mixation of soap and other elements into the baking soda solution for effectiveness.
How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Treat Powdery Mildew?
Hydrogen peroxide is a quick home remedy for powdery mildew diseases.
All you need to do is get hydrogen peroxide over the counter and apply it to your crops that are infested by powdery mildews.
Hydrogen Peroxide which is a normal component of a first aid box, used for disinfecting light scabs and injuries, when sprinkled on the fungal diseases, breaks down their essential cell makeup and leaves their cell membrane open.
The life in these fungal organisms is destroyed and the powdery mildew diseases disappear from the plant leaves as quickly as they appear.
Is Neem Oil Good for Powdery Mildew?
Neem oil is good for your plants against powdery mildew.
Neem oil is an effective fungicide control for a long list of fungal diseases and the powdery mildew isn’t exempted.
Sprinkling Neem oil and water consistently on the affected parts of the plants can get powdery mildew off the plants in a few days.
Fungal diseases thrive in humid conditions and when the soil is overwatered. They also thrive in situations when the plants are not given adequate care.
The case of Powdery mildew fungal diseases is not so much of a risk to plants as these fungi can be easily removed by a change of weather.
The risk factor is in their ability to rapidly multiply and rid plants of their photosynthesis pigments.
It is necessary to monitor your plants and take quick steps to treat powdery mildew fungal diseases as soon as they appear on the leaves.
Home-made organic remedies are the best and often the easiest to apply.