Powdery mildew is a sneaky fungus that can lay dormant until it’s ready to strike your plants, without you ever knowing it was there before it’s too late.
It is important to know what can cause powdery mildew, as well as the symptoms to look for and how to evict the fungus once it takes over. However, the most important thing to know when it comes to powdery mildew is how to prevent it.
What is powdery mildew?
Powdery mildew is a fungus that can transport its spores through the air, between plants, and can be carried on any living thing. This is why it is essential to make sure your grow environment is as sterile as possible, and why you should always make sure your clothes are clean before you enter, and before you leave.
The scary thing about powdery mildew is that it can be a quiet killer. It will lie dormant on your plants until the ideal environmental conditions are available. Once it takes hold, the mildew can slow down the photosynthesis process, slowly killing the plants over time. Unlike other conditions your plants might face, powdery mildew is not all that uncommon.
The “good” thing about powdery mildew is that it’s easy to spot once it starts spreading. The condition is signified by fuzzy white patches on the leaves of your plants. Wherever the mildew starts, it will continue to spread to surrounding leaves. If caught early enough, these leaves can be chopped to potentially curb the spread. However the infection can spread very quickly, and you could wake up one morning to multiple plants covered in powdery mildew.
Be aware of your conditions. High humidity levels can be a common cause for powdery mildew, and have a level over 55% in a room with poor ventilation can create an ideal condition for PM. If allowed to spread, the mildew will eventually kill your plants completely. While it can be difficult to detect, preventing powdery mildew doesn’t take a lot of extra work, and will save a lot of grief later on.
How to prevent powdery mildew
Taking the right precautionary steps to prevent PM can save you a lot of time later on, and help you stress less during the growing process. One of the first things you can do to decrease the chances of PM occurring is make sure your plants have plenty room. Plants that are bunched together in a tight space are much more likely to develop powdery mildew.
Another key factor for preventing PM is to pay attention to when you water. You want to make sure your plants have plenty of time and sunlight (or artificial light) to absorb all the water. Water that sits can create a breeding ground for PM. Usually you want your plants to get at least five hours of light after watering.
Consider setting up a dehumidifier if growing indoors, and invest in an intake filter to ensure that the air coming into your room is clean, with minimal chance of contamination from outside sources.
Unfortunately, if you don’t catch PM soon enough, you most likely will need to cut it out, or completely remove and dispose of the infected plants. This can be detrimental when a room full of plants gets infected, and must all be thrown out. While some people might try foliar sprays or fungicides, these can be harmful during the flowering stages and end up doing more harm than good to your end product.
While there are other home remedies for trying to combat powdery mildew, the best course of action will be prevention. Come into Cultivate or send us an email if you have a PM problem or what some tips on prevention!