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Powdery Mildew II ... Tips and Ideas
July 26, 2010

(Calm before the Storm)

Welcome new readers.

Please stick around.

Hopefully we can become friends.

Every year my dad was alive he would say how fast summer will pass once July 4th comes and goes.

My dad was right.

This past week was yet another hot and sticky one and gave us more rain.

We had several inches, yet managed to miss out on the severe weather and warnings.

Karen thinks I'm nuts...............

For the past 2 weeks I have told her that I can tall the difference in the sun by the way it beats on me.

Even on a 90 degree day, I can feel the difference from the location the sun beats on me.

A 90 degree day isn't quite as rough, because the sun isn't directly over head like it was a month ago.

I'm sure this is more prevalent in northern locations.

This weather sure is conducive for fungal issues.

The money I save on not having to water everyday is going right into running the AC around the clock.

You too?

The warmer weather has blessed us with more and earlier veggies.

Not much beats fresh produce, especially when you grow it.

With the Monarch kill off this past winter, I understand the lack of them around here, but I haven't seen a lot of other butterflies this year.

Dill and Fennel are still in tact, as Tiger Swallowtails are rare sightings for me as well.

I have seen a few Red-Admirals and some Painted Ladies and Gray hair-streaks, but not a whole lot of other species.

Even the introduced Cabbage whites aren't in abundance so far.

Every year, certain issues are brought up or questions are asked.

One such question is "Where are all of the robins, Where did they go?"

It is a good question and I'll see if I can give it a good answer.

Anyone that knows me, knows that robins are one of my favorite birds.

Not for beauty, but for their abilities and courage.

However, if you really take a good look, they are a good looking bird.

American robins not only migrate (to some degree) to get out of the cold, they may migrate only far enough to find food.

Indeed, some robins will stay put if they have food sources.

When our 'Creator' put robins on this planet, he also gave them another ability.

The ability to change their diet.

Here in Michigan, we can't wait to see the first robin of late winter/spring.

It is a common sight to see yards and fields filled with robins as they gorge on worms and night crawlers.

All to often this is what we think of when we vision a picture of a robin.


Robins enjoy a good protein filled meal, but insects also play an important roll for protein packed meals for nesting robins and hungry, growing babies.

Robins also enjoy fruits and berries.

Anyone that grows strawberries, cherries and other fruits know what i am talking about.

Last week I mentioned how many of the birds are on their last wave of nesting and fledglings.

For the most part this holds true for American robins as well.

Once the last batch has fledged and can now fend for itself, most robins head to open woods and scrub to find a cool spot and a place to find food.

A robin's diet is now changing to insects and fruits.

Sure, they will still take a juicy worm, but in most summers, by now it has become hot and dry and worms have gone deep into the ground.

Instead of starving to death, God gave them a knack to change diets and on a rare occasion, they will also visit seed feeders.

If you want to keep robins and other birds around longer and more often, you must build a habitat that birds want to visit and stay in.

Water, feeders, flowers, fruits, habitat that attracts insects, attracts birds.

Cherries, viburnums, dogwoods, choke-berry, sumac and scores of other native shrubs attract birds.

In the mean time, go to the parks and woods where the robins are to enjoy these birds.

Wait till Autumn and they magically reappear.

We will be gone for much of this week.

It is time for our annual trek to Petoskey, MI and our time in the 'Ginderbread House" B&B.

We wont be back until Sunday night or Monday morning, but I will make every effort to get some form of letter out to you for August 2Nd.

In the mean time, here is something to think about.

It has been several months since we did any kind of a favorite anything.

Well, this time I would like for you to think of your favorite flower.

If you have one.

You know, the blooms that just make your day or you have to have.

Does it highlight your gardens or beds?

Is it a focal point?

Do you enjoy it so much that it is everywhere?

Friends think of you when they see this flower.

For me .......................................

I'm coping out.

It depends on the season Spring, summer and fall.

Tulips, daffodils and columbines.

Iris, peonies and whatever.

Monarda, phlox, daylilies and coneflowers

Mums and asters

Perennials with a long blooming season

Annuals that give me instant color from spring till killing frosts.

I suppose for me, it is the ones blooming now, or maybe that one illusive "I just gotta have it plant" but I wont know until I see it.

Please, think about it.

Here is the drill.

Your First name (last is optional)

City or area

State or province.

Send me your favorite or special flowers and why.

Maybe there is a reason behind it (romance).

If you send photos, they must be limited to 50KB and no larger than 320x240 for me to publish them on the letter.

Okay <>

Powdery Mildew Part II


We all do it.

All to often we plant to close together.

Maybe you are naive as a new gardener.

You may be like me where, "I just know I can squeeze one more plant in somewhere".

Squeeze it in, any place I can find a small space or make room.

I know better, yet I still do it every year.

And every year, it seems that I pay for it, one way or another.

You and I help to create the ideal conditions for fungi to grow and thrive.

Conditions that are damp, poor air circulation, lack of sun, poor watering habits and on and on.

Fungi can't make their own food, so they must somehow get it from other organisms, living or dead

How do some fungi attack plants?

Some fungi can digest things like dead leaves and wood (mushrooms)

Others set up mutually beneficial relationships with living plants (lichen).

But a third group discovered how to attack plants and steal food from them.

These 'pathogenic' or disease-causing fungi get inside the plant either by making a hole in its skin (epidermis), or by growing in through the plant's breathing holes (stomata).

Then they either poison and kill the plant cells before absorbing food from them, or simply steal nutrients from the living cells.

The spores of some fungi come through the air and attack leaves, making dead spots or even killing the whole leaf.

Some fungi live in the soil and enter roots.

They can either block the water-conducting cells or kill them, causing the plant to wilt.

In many cases the plants is seriously damaged or may even die.

So such pathogenic fungi can threaten our flowers and crops.

Almost all landscapes have plants that become diseased with one of the powdery mildew or some other fungi.

Although the fungi that cause powdery mildew are usually different on different plants, all of the powdery mildew diseases are similar in appearance.

In most cases, prompt recognition and control actions can prevent severe damage to plants from powdery mildew diseases.


As I mentioned last week.............

Powdery mildews, as the name implies, often appear as a superficial white or gray powdery growth of fungus over the surface of leaves, stems, flowers, or fruit of affected plants.

These patches may enlarge until they cover the entire leaf on one or both sides.

Young foliage and shoots may be particularly susceptible.

Leaf curling and twisting may be noted before the fungus is noticed.

Severe powdery mildew infection will result in yellowed leaves, dried and brown leaves, and disfigured shoots and flowers and even fruits.

Although it usually is not a fatal disease, powdery mildew may hasten plant defoliation and fall dormancy, and the infected plant may become extremely unsightly.

On roses, uncontrolled powdery mildew will prevent normal flowering on highly susceptible cultivars.

For some plants, years of fungus and neglect will eventually weaken the plant to the point it can't survive winter or stressful conditions.


Powdery mildew fungi infect almost all ornamental plants, even our lawns.

They are commonly seen only on those plants more naturally susceptible to the disease.

Susceptible woody plants include some deciduous azaleas, buckeye, catalpa, cherry, a few of the flowering crabapples, dogwood, English oaks, euonymus, honeysuckle, horse chestnut, lilac, privet, roses, serviceberry, silver maple, sycamore, tulip tree, some viburnums, walnut, willow and wintercreeper.

Powdery mildews are also common on certain herbaceous plants, such as chrysanthemums, dahlias, delphiniums, kalanchoes, phlox, monarda, Reiger begonias, snapdragons, zinnias and many more.

Remember, that each species of powdery mildew has a very limited host range, so this goes to show you just how many different species of this fungus are out there.

Infection of one plant type does not necessarily mean that others are threatened.

For example, the fungus that causes powdery mildew on lilac does not spread to roses and vice versa.

Environment Favoring Powdery Mildews:

Most powdery mildew fungi produce airborne spores and infect plants when temperatures are moderate (60 to 80 degrees F) and will not be present during the hottest days of the summer if they are really dry.

Unlike most other fungi that infect plants, powdery mildew fungi do not require free water on the plant surface in order to germinate and infect.

Some powdery mildew fungi, especially those on rose, apple, and cherry are favored by high humidities.

Overcrowding and shading will keep plants cool and promote higher humidity.

When we have day and night temperatures that have at least a 20 degree differential and high humidity, you have a natural breeding ground.

These conditions are highly conducive to powdery mildew development.

As I mentioned last week, the spores are spread by wind, rain and sprinklers splashing, animals and birds as well as our own movement.

Spores become airborne and can spread a long distance.

Now here is a thought for you .......................

We breathe in this stuff as well.

Thankfully God has given us a resistance to these fungal particles.

Control of Powdery Mildews:

In sports, it is often said that a good offense is a good defense.

In gardening, we are going to use that metaphor as well.

A good defense has a game plan and comes prepared.

By keeping the opponents offense off the field of play or from scoring, give you a much better chance to win.

In gardening, you must also have a game plan and come prepared.

And preperation starts with you.

Before using fungicides you should attempt to limit powdery mildews by other means.

Following some cultural practices will be beneficial for controlling powdery mildews.

Purchase only top-quality, disease-free plants of resistant cultivars and species from a reputable nursery, greenhouse or garden center.

Take only healthy plants that are given to you.

This doesn't happen very often but, Horticulturists in the green industry and Extension offices should be consulted concerning the availability and performance of resistant varieties.

Prune out diseased terminals of woody plants, such as rose and crabapple, during the normal pruning period.

All dead wood should be removed and destroyed.

Rake up and destroy all dead leaves that might harbor the fungus.

Maintain plants in a high vigor.

Plant properly in well-prepared and well-drained soil where the plants will obtain all-day sun (or a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily).

Susceptible plants should be planted where they can get early morning sun to dry off dew and rain.

Space plants for good air circulation (I'm guilty).

DO NOT plant highly susceptible plants--such as phlox, rose, and zinnia--in damp, shady locations and make sure they get morning and afternoon sun.

Do not handle or work among the plants when the foliage is wet.

Water thoroughly at weekly intervals during periods of drought.

The soil should be moist 8 to 12 inches deep.

Avoid overhead watering and sprinkling the foliage, especially in late afternoon or evening.

Use a soil soaker hose or root feeder so the foliage is not wetted.

Chemical Control of Powdery Mildews:

In many cases, powdery mildew diseases do little damage to overall plant health, and yearly infections can be ignored if unsightliness is not a major concern.

For example, lilacs can have powdery mildew each year, with little or no apparent effect on plant health (see last week's letter).

On some plants, powdery mildews can result in significant damage. Thus, fungicides must be used to achieve acceptable control.

For best results with fungicides, spray programs should start before the fungus appears.

Otherwise, you must begin as soon as mildews are detected.

Spray on a regular schedule, more often during cool, damp weather.

Use a good spreader-sticker with the fungicides.

Be sure and cover both surfaces of all leaves with the spray.

Neem oil and B.T. have fungicidal characteristics.

Yes, you may use these products as an insecticide, but they also works as a fungicide.

By that I mean that it will prevent a fungal disease from appearing if it has been sprayed on the plant before the disease develops.

If a fungal disease has already reared its ugly symptoms, these products, or any other fungicide for that matter, cannot repair the damaged part of the plant.

What it does, if immediately applied, will be to prevent the further spread of that fungal disease.

You arrest the spreading and contain it to one plant ore area of the plant.

Fungicides generally recommended for powdery mildew control include: Triadimefon (Bayleton, Strike); Triforine (Funginex), Thiophanate-methyl (Cleary's 3336, Domain) and Propiconazole (Banner).

I prefer to use Copper or fungonil by 'Bonide'

You can also make one of the several home made remedies out there.


Here is a little trick I've learned and some of you may have as well.

When applying fungicides (commercial or home made). You have to apply on a regular basis and after every rain.

HOWEVER, if you use a bonding agent like 'Turbo Super spreader' by 'Bonide' or any 'Anti-Desiccant' like 'Wilt Proof', you wont have to spray nearly as often.

These products also work with your home made deer repellents so you only have to spray every 3 to 4 weeks.

I think that about covers it on powdery Mildew.

Remember, if you have a favorite flower you would like to share with us.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

The nobler sort of man emphasizes the good qualities in others, and does not accentuate the bad. The inferior does the reverse.

Confucius, Chinese Philosopher

I'm guilty.

How many times in my past did I find the poor or bad qualities in a person.

Looking for them wasn't bad enough, I had to let others know about them and then let that person know as well.

It wasn't until my early 40's that I was able to look for the good in others and then emphasize these good qualities.

Living in a fallen world seems to make it so easy to tear down others instead of picking them up.

Insult when we need to be building.

I do believe it is the world we live in or the people around us.

It is also the choices we choose to make.

Sure it is more difficult to cheer on others and to encourage them.

Especially if we don't have it.

It is our living that can make a difference in others.

On many occasions, we have been there and have experienced so many things.

You and I.................................

We can make a huge difference in others, simply by giving a positive word.

Words of encouragement.

By pointing out good qualities and building on them.

It only takes 30 days to replace a bad habit with a good one.

30 days to improve your self and possibly make a world of difference in another person.

Especially a young mind.

I didn't like being told I could do this or become that.

I disliked myself even more when I realized I became that kind of person.


Praise God, I look for the good in others.

I praise others.

I look to help others when I can.

I tell others that they can become whatever they want to be.

I also let them know that it takes work and self sacrifice.

I've been there and I don't want to go back.

I enjoy looking for the good.

I like waking up everyday.

I like to smile and love to share them.

Allow me to share this smile with you :-D

Please go out and share your smile and look for the good in others.

Break old habits.

I want to be the nobler sort, not the inferior one looking for something.

Until next time,

God Bless.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Ephesians 4:29

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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