Powdery Mildew

How to Identify and Control Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew2
Photo by Pollinator: Wikimedia Commons


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Wondering about that white fungus on your plants? The fungal disease powdery mildew affects a wide variety of plants and takes away a plant’s nutrients. This causes the plant to bloom less and become weaker.

What Is Powdery Mildew?

There are many different species of the fungal disease powdery mildew, and each species attacks a variety of different plants. Unlike many other fungal diseases, powdery mildew does not require moisture to infect plants. It also survives well in warmth. This means that it can infect your plants under a wide variety of conditions.

When the fungus begins to take over one of your plants, the mildew that forms is made up of many spores. These spores carry the infection to other plants through the wind. Powdery mildew can slow down the growth of your plant. In some cases, if the infection is severe enough, powdery mildew can kill your plants. 


    How to Identify Powdery Mildew Damage

    • Plants infected with powdery mildew look as if they have been dusted with flour.
    • Powdery mildew usually starts off as circular, powdery white spots, which can appear on leaves, stems, and sometimes fruit.
    • Powdery mildew usually covers the upper part of the leaves and affects the older leaves first; the leaves turn yellow and dry out.
    • The fungus might cause some leaves to twist, break, or become distorted.
    • The white spots of powdery mildew will spread to cover most of the leaves or affected areas.
    • The leaves, buds, and growing tips will become distorted as well. These symptoms usually appear late in the growing season. 


    Photo Credit: The Regents of the University of California, UC Davis. Powdery mildew first appears as small white spots on the upper part of the leaves.

    Control and Prevention

    How to Control Powdery Mildew 

    • Rubbing the infected leaves together can help partially remove the disease from your plants.
    • Remove all the infected plant parts and destroy them. Remember, do not compost any infected plant, as the disease can still be spread by the wind.
    • Spray infected plants with fungicides. Effective fungicides for powdery mildew treatments or cures include sulfur, lime-sulfur, neem oil, and potassium bicarbonate.

    Prevent Powdery Mildew

    • Choose plants that are resistant or tolerant to powdery mildew.
    • Powdery mildew thrives in hot and humid weather, so avoid overhead watering to reduce humidity. Also selectively prune overcrowded areas to increase air circulation; this also helps reduce humidity for your plants.
    • Spray your plants with fungicides according to their directions. If you don’t want to use fungicides, try spraying your plants with a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 quart of water. Remember to spray your plants thoroughly.

    Reader Comments

    Leave a Comment

    White powdery mildew hay spread to much cherry tree

    I'm just sick, I just got 2 new cherry trees 1 Bing, 1 Black Tartarian cherry tree and I spread hay down first before I mulched around the bottom of the trees. The hay I used has white powdery looking stuff in the middle of it, not knowing I put it down and put mulch on top of it. It is Nov 13th here in Wisconsin and cold out. Does the hay have white powdery mildew and will this now infest the trees next spring? Should I dig up all of the mulch and get rid of it all? What should I do?

    Powdery mildew

    I have powdery mildew on my peonies. I sprayed with neem oil but now the plants look dry and damaged. Should I cut the plants all the way down? Will they come back next year if I do? Is there anything I can add to the soil? This is the second year this has happened to these plants. Last year I did not treat them with anything.

    Powdery mildew

    You mention to destroy plants and not compost. What method is best? Will burning cause the mildew spread to other plant? How about other diseases on plants, will burning spread disease?

    Burning powdery mildew

    Did you ever find if powdery mildew is spread by burning infected plants?

    Grape Vine

    Our concord grape vine seems to have "expired", after 5 years of fairly reliable fruity growth. How can I tell if I need to start over, or find some "life" in what remains? Sad. The neighboring vines are doing well.

    Rosebush fungus ?

    Would like to know what some white fuzzy looking stuff on the rosebuds might be and
    what can be done to eliminate it.
    Looks like the fuzz n peaches but is a bright white in colour

    powdery mildew on roses

    It sounds like powdery mildew. See guidance above and

    • plant roses in full sunlight.

    • space plants to allow ample air circulation

    • fertilize to maintain vigor but do not overfertilize

    • avoid wetting leaves when watering; use drip irrigation, if possible

    • prune affected canes and collect and destroy cuttings (do not compost)

    • use fungicide with care

    • in future, select rose varieties that are resistant

    Powdery Mildew and Environmental parameter

    Would like know about relationship between disease powdery mildew and environmental factors specifically Temperature, Relative Humidity, Rain Fall and Wind speed. Is there any quantitative MODEL which defines relationship amongs them in control of disease.

    Red Spider Mite on hydrangeas

    Can you tell me what to spray to rid the plant from this pest. It has spread to other plants in the area.

    Red Spider Mite on Hydrangea

    Mite infestations often occur when plants are stressed from insufficient water, so be sure you are watering enough. General purpose insecticides can exacerbate the problem. Instead use an insecticidal soap according to the directions on the label to knock the population back.

    A source of mould on cucurbits

    ILLEUS GALBULA: little black beetle with with yellow spots (looks like a ladybird, but with louse-like larvae) eats mould, but unfortunately I took a couple of seasons to realise that they also spread mould spores in their vicinity to provide themselves with a food source. :( There isn't enough Baking Soda, the plant dies .......

    White Mildew

    Can this white mildew become solid, and fall to the ground like crystal: When stepped on crushes into white powder?

    pear tree

    My pear tree when I moved in to my house last year had some leaves, by this time last year it had small fruit growing, now it seems that it is dying. No fruit has grown or there hasn't been any leaves. I don't know what has gone wrong with my pear tree. The pear tree is in my back yard. I also have a tree, it grows small green pea shape balls, but this year it hasn't grown anything either, and seems to dying only partial of the tree has leaves. but, I feel it end is at hand. What could have come on my property to kill my tree?

    Dying Trees

    Hi Gregorio,

    Since both trees are failing, I suspect it is a soil-related issue–there are many pathogens that live in the soil that can kill different tree species. There is really only one way to know for sure, and that is to have your soil tested by a cooperative extension agent, who will be able to identify any problems and provide recommendations.

    Do I need to treat pumpkins

    Do I need to treat pumpkins (whose leaves had powdery mold) when I harvest them? I'm wondering if I should wipe them, or at least spray the stems, with a disinfectant.

    Powdery mildew should not

    Powdery mildew should not affect your pumpkins now that the skins are hardened and cured. It is a fungus that grows on the surface of leaves and some fruit.

    I have powdery mildew on my

    I have powdery mildew on my pumpkin plants (took me a while to realize what it was) and I have 8 pretty big pumpkins on them at the moment. half the leaves have died and we still have 1.5 months to go before halloween comes along. Can I save my pumpkins? if yes how? do I need to cut them off right away or can I leave them to mature a bit more? I dont want to cut them off now and they rot before halloween comes! Thank you!!

    Test to see if your pumpkins

    Test to see if your pumpkins are mature: press the end of yout thumbnail into the flesh of the fruit; if little indentation is left in the fruit, the pumpkin is mature.
    You could target the powdery mildew with spray, if it is not covering most of the plant. Consult a nursery for a recommendation.
    When the plants are done, remove all of the decayed plant material to reduce overwintering fungus. Avoid fertilzing with too much nitrogen. Next season, avoid crowding plants.

    my pumpkin plant is severely

    my pumpkin plant is severely infested with white powdery mildew after a week or two of rain. With more rain to come, is there a chance that spraying the leaves will help save the vines, or should I tear them out before it spreads?

    Several sources we consulted,

    Several sources we consulted, Jesse, say that your pumpkins will be ok, esp this late in season and esp if they are strong and healthy otherwise. Dampness is not the best thing. Spraying, esp  with rain coming that may wash off the spray, may not be the best solution. If you do want to spray, consult a nursery about horticultural oil of a biological fungicide.
    In future, consider planting resistant varietes, give the plants plenty of room to grow, and certainly full sun.
    Here's hoping you get this before the rains!

    I to am having trouble with

    I to am having trouble with black spots and powdery patches, thanks for all the information...My question can the water from a water softner harm roses or any plants?I planted 20 roses lost 10 and other annuals.......

    It's OK for a little while

    It's OK for a little while but not advised for the long-term due to the build-up of sodium. Water softeners take away calcium and magnesium and then leave sodium in the water. It is better to use the outside tap runs off the mains. Rain water, tap water, purified water, and boiled water are better options.

    I have powdery mildew on my

    I have powdery mildew on my sunflowers and it killed them off and I would like to know if it will go away or do I have to remove my dead sunflowers and plant new ones next year? I really hope next year they will come back or can I do something now before the summer ends? I live in Tampa Fl where it is the start of the rain season every afternoon.

    Hi Jessica, You need to pull

    Hi Jessica,

    You need to pull up and destroy the dead sunflowers.
    You can try to plant new seeds in a different area of your garden. Plant the seeds in full sun and space them so that they will have good air circulation. For prevention spray with a neem oil spray or a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baking soda blended into a quart of water.

    I bought a lilac bush (a

    I bought a lilac bush (a young plant) a few months ago and a few days later I noticed it had powdery patches on it. I suspect it is powdery mildew. I planted it in my backyard a month ago. I didn't know what to do about the powdery patches so I haven't done anything about it yet. My lilac bush hasn't grown at all since I bought it and this concerns me. It is in partial sun--it gets the sun from the morning, and is shaded by trees in the afternoon. Any suggestions? Does it just take forever to grow? Will the powdery mildew kill it if I don't do anything? Please reply with suggestions. Thanks.

    Your lilac tree is still

    Your lilac tree is still young and you just planted it. It will grow more in the spring and next summer. Powdery mildew is common on lilacs after a hot humid summer. It's not going to hurt your bush. Lilacs need about 6 hours of full sun a day to bloom well. Go to our lilac page to find more tips about growing lilacs.

    hey i had powdery mildew bad

    hey i had powdery mildew bad last year and my buddy had the same issue so we figured a little cure searching was in order so after losing all of my tomatoes and most of my peas i found this stuff called cuh2o and i guess all this is, is copper and water when i called the number the people told me it was used for years and so i asked whats so special they literaly just told me its the copper suspended in watter and its pattend or whatever yadda yadda epa yada all that jazz and so i says send me a bottle and man with in the week i called em back and gave them my blessing cuz it kicked butt i mean i now have no sings of powder and it dont leave the nasty residue but any who ill share the number with you so u can combat and rid your plants of mildew your not alone with the problem and it dose suck the life out of em but ya heres the number 616-226-6539

    how do I keep Beatles off

    how do I keep Beatles off rose bushes

    This is our powdery mildew

    This is our powdery mildew page.  You can find more information on our Roses page as well as our Japanese Beetles page here:
    You need to handpick these beetles and drop into pails of soapy water. You could also place fine netting over the rose bush.  Another idea is to get ride of the grubs in the lawn with Milky Spore. Finally, you could use an insecticide; speak to your local garden center about what's approved in your area.

    The top of our raspberry

    The top of our raspberry plants are dieing. what causes this?

    Last year was my first year

    Last year was my first year growing a garden by myself. All the vine type plants (pumpkins, squash, melons, etc.) were killed by powdery mildew. They were doing great at first, by the end of summer the powdery mildew spread and rotted all the fruit and veggies. It was suggested to me that I burn the garden last fall, but I didn't get a chance to do it. In a month it will be time to plant the garden again. Will the mildew come back because I didn't burn the garden? Is there anything I can do now before I plant to prevent the powdery mildew from returning?

    Some sources advise burning

    Some sources advise burning the infected plant materials that were affected with powdery mildew in the same season. Hopefully, you at least cleaned the garden of any infected plants. If you have not yet, do that as soon as you can and avoid shaking any residue that might be infected into this year's garden bed. The spores can overwinter on affected plants and it can fall off as you move plant residue.
    As for this season, plant resistant varieties for better results. Plant in full sun. Avoid excess fertilizer (hard to know how much for you would be "excess"; follow fertilier guidelines). Provide youor plants with good air circulation; give the adequate (or slightly more) space between each.
    If you do see signs of powdery mildew returning, prune to remove the infected branches or shoots as soon as you can. 
    We hope you have a happy harvest this year.

    Pumpkins are heavy feeders

    Pumpkins are heavy feeders and I would plant them in a different area this year. Be shure to feed your last year's garden with a good compost or other natural amendments. I always rotate heavy feeders every year and plant a cover crop to till in for the following year. Burning diseased plants or putting them in the trash is a good idea. I wouldn't plant a heavy feeder in the same spot for two or three years. If you don't have the room to rotate then feed the soil heavily. I like a mulch of at least 6 to 8 inches but pull it aside to get your plants into the soil. Happy gardening!

    My Rose bush has Black Spot.

    My Rose bush has Black Spot. Is there a home remedy to remove the Black Spot?
    Thank You

    First, prune off the damaged

    First, prune off the damaged parts of the plant and dispose of the diseased material in bags or burn it. Do not add to the composter.
    One home remedy is a solution made with baking soda: dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in a quart of water, add a few drops of liquid soap to the mix to help it cling better to the foliage, spray infected plants thoroughly. Another unusual remedy for fighting fungal diseases is manure tea. This formulation fights blackspot, as well as mildew and rust, while providing foliar nutrition. Place one gallon of well-composted manure in a 5-gallon bucket and fill with water. Stir the mixture well and let sit in a warm place for three days. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or mesh and use the resulting tea to spray disease affected plants.
    Remember to water your rose plants at soil level and avoid getting the leaves wet. Water in the morning. Space the plants well to ensure good air circulation. Smaller rose bushes be spaced 3 feet apart and larger rose bushes be spaced 4 feet apart from one another.

    I spend hours everyday in my

    I spend hours everyday in my garden caring for plants I have raised from seeds. My plants are over-ran with powdery mildew. Especialy my peonies and ALL vines, watermelon, gourds, cantalope ect. Then there's the aphids. Every plant in the yard is covered with a disease and bugs. Also have a big problem with atleast 4 ant species. I'm really dissapointed this year. I'm happy everything grew but honestly the plants look terrible. I grow hibiscus, roses, spider plants, coneflowers, morning glorys, clematis, hot poker, iris and many more plants that attract birds and butterflys. My daylillies and grasses look terrible too... ANY suggestion?

    See the tips above and

    See the tips above and comments from our reader for help with mildew. We have also heard that spraying a milk/water solution on the leaves will help. Use about 30% milk and 70% water. It doesn't matter what kind of milk you use.
    For the aphids see our pests page at www.almanac.com/content/aphids
    For ants you can sprinkling cinnemon or corn meal or spraying a little bit of vinegar between the plants.

    I have two sun flowers one

    I have two sun flowers one about 6 feet the other about 4and a half the small one all the leafs started to wilt couple of days ago now the tall one is doing the same the smaller one large flower three buds and the tall one has a very large flower what could be causing this any help would be appreciated thank you

    Usually, sunflowers wilt

    Usually, sunflowers wilt because they need more water. Water every day to every other day and see if they perk up.  Sunflowers also naturally drop as their seed heads get heavy and they protect the seeds from the sun; this is a natural part of the cycle.

    I just got my phlox in

    I just got my phlox in July.Planted it now all the leaves have brown spots. Asked nursery told me it has that mildew.How can I tell if the whole plant is dead? I trimmed it as much as possible. Thank you for ur time.

    Yes, powdery mildew is a

    Yes, powdery mildew is a well-known nuisance on phlox. Usually, this is not a serious enough problem to kill the plant in its first season, but cut back all the disease and remove the stems this fall (after frost) s the fungus does not survive the winter. In the spring, watch for new development and spray the foliage with a fungicide or dust with sulfur. Also, make sure the plants are well spaced to allow good air movement throughout the foliage. Water plants early in the day so leaves dry quickly.
    Do not over fertilize (especially with nitrogen).

    Please help.--My home is in

    Please help.--My home is in Turkey, (ex pat).Earlyier this year i returned from the uk bringing with me two 5ft conference pear trees (my favorite). Reading all the info about pear trees, i purchased another euoropean tree to cross polonate.--well i waited ,and in the begining of June the buds started to open NO flowers, It seemed happy with the position i planted it in,leaves and shoots started to appear . Now they have stopped growing the leaves a little curlled but still very green. Q. We have another 8 weeks of hot sunshine 35c untill it starts to cool down, could that be the case of it being to hot. All my other fruit trees do not seem to be affected --Apple,Peaches, lemon, & orange. ----PS, It would be an good idea to include the temptures that most plants can endure in artcles writen . Regards Michael. Trudgeon.

    Rose Red77-I live by the

    Rose Red77-I live by the seaside and have finally given up on having roses because of blackspot.The best treatment is to spray very frequently (weekly),rake under the roses getting all the infected stuff away from the plant,and buying roses that are blackspot resistant. There are websites that teach about blackspot.You have to do a little searching for them though. Hope This Helps!

    Oh, dear. Black spot is

    Oh, dear. Black spot is common to roses the world over and there may be as many opinions on this as there are rose varieties. Some say that cleaning the ground of leaf debris at the end of season and then again in spring is the solution, as well as pruning the infected canes, avoiding wetting canes on gray (cloudy) days, and avoiding planting roses too close together. Others suggest that in combination with control agents such as the fungicide chlorothalonil (Daconil), reapplying it after rain and applying it to all new leaves (applications in 7 to 10 day intervals have been proposed). Another suggests Funginex. Some say fertilizing roses with Epsom salts helps. And then there is choosing plants that are resistant to black spot.
    Finally, you might also consult your local agricultural extension service for local advice and/or notice where roses thrive in your vicinity and ask the property owner how they handle or avoid this plague. Best wishes!

    This link said

    This link said BlackSpot/Powdery Mildew. Are these different? I have black spots & yellow leaves on nearly every rose I plant in my garden but I don't have anything that looks like the powdery mildew description. Where can I find the best help for getting rid of Black Spot? My Hybrid Teas only last a maximum of 3 years before they succumb to this disease, it eventually ruins the canes and rots the root-stock. Thanks.

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