How to treat powdery mildew on house plants

Written by leslie lane
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House plants add a lot to our lives. Certainly, they look pretty and add a soft warmth to otherwise empty and "cold" areas such as corners and blank walls. But house plants also help to purify the air inside homes and office buildings, and studies conducted in two large hospitals in Korea have shown that plants in hospital rooms help surgical patients recover more quickly, with better outcomes.

Many house plants are easy to care for and grow with little intervention. But diseases can attack indoor plants. If powdery mildew has become a problem for one of your house plants, the following steps will help:

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol or hand sanitiser
  • Fungicidal soap
  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Sulphur dust

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    Treating Powdery Mildew

  1. 1

    Inspect your house plants carefully for signs of powdery mildew. You will see a white or grey powdery coating on the leaves, and possibly the stems and flowers. Affected areas may look crumpled or distorted.

    Any plant can get powdery mildew, but house plants that are commonly susceptible include African violet, jade plant, begonia, Kalanchoe and ivy.

  2. 2

    Prune away any parts affected by powdery mildew. Clean your pruners or scissors with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitiser after each cut to avoid spreading the fungus that causes powdery mildew on house plants.

  3. 3

    Remove and destroy all pruned plant material. Throw it in the garbage, not in your compost pile.

  4. 4

    According to "The House Plant Expert," you should spray house plants exhibiting powdery mildew with a fungicidal soap. You can purchase fungicidal soap in your garden supply store. Alternately, you can make your own fungicidal soap for powdery mildew by mixing 1 tbsp of baking soda, one gallon of water and a few drops of dish soap.

    Spray houseplants that may be affected every four to seven days to kill any germinating fungus spores.

  5. 5

    Dust plants with sulphur dust if you don't want to use fungicidal soap. Sulphur interferes with the metabolism of fungi and is considered to be an effective organic defence against powdery mildew, as noted on the OISAT website (in the Resources section). Sulphur dust can be purchased from agriculture and garden supply stores. Be sure to follow the usage instructions found on the sulphur dust product label.

  6. 6

    Arrange your houseplants so that they have plenty of ventilation and air circulation around them. Lack of air circulation is one culprit in the growth of powdery mildew.

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