21 Aug 2012 2 Comments
It’s a depressing sight when your plant leaves are covered with black mold–sooty mold to be more specific. It’s nasty stuff and comes from the secretion of tiny bugs (think aphids, white flies, mealy, scale). Makes you think your entire plant is about to die.
But fear not. The stuff just looks gross. Okay, it IS gross but it won’t kill your plant, unless of course you allow these beasts free rein and they suck every last drop of sap from the leaves. Remember, plants need leaves to make their food from the sun and air so don’t let it go too long. The cure? Simple. Wash both bugs and leaves off with soapy water. Yep, simply suds those puppies up, rinse and you’re good to go.
Now I have a dog and outdoor washing is no easy business. It’s hot, it’s sticky, and not the place I want to be during the summer months. So I’ve found an easier fix–because in my book, gardening should be easy and fun–and it only requires a spray bottle. Use the insecticidal soap you buy at the store, or you can make your own by mixing a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap and water in a spray bottle, and drench the leaves with the soapy solution. I mean, really soak them good and the mold will literally slide right off your leaves.
If you’re the impatient type, you can help the process along by wiping the leaves, but since this resembles washing way too closely, I prefer to apply before rain is expected. That way, Mother Nature can do the washing for me! A heavy squirt from a hose will work wonders, too, but either way, bugs and mold will disappear. And if it doesn’t look perfectly clean after the first application, relax. The effects will eventually become visible. These are my gardenia leaves after treatment without any extra effort from me.
As to prevention, full sun and plenty of wind will help keep this mold off your plants. I know–doesn’t make sense if it’s caused by bugs. However, both my gardenia and viburnum are mold-free on their sunny side and mold-filled on their shady, non-breeze side. I’m no master horticulturist, but I can be logical (when I’m not knee-deep in my fictional world, that is!) Anyhoo, you can see the difference and decide for yourself. Viburnum on sunny side:
Viburnum on shade side (albeit I took this photo capturing as much morning sun as possible):
It’s that simple. My gardenia are actually located in a sunny spot with plenty of breeze, but they’re a bit crowded making it hard for the wind to dig in, hence their mold issues. On the bright side, most look like this one:
And yes, I realize my babies could use a bit of greening, but it’s been a busy summer. Now back to the mold–you can always invest in some ladybugs. They’ll take care of the varmints secreting the nasty black mold, or try spraying a mix of stale coffee on your leaves. White flies hate the stuff.
Now until next time, let me leave you with more “happy” thoughts.
I do love Gerbera daisies and this sunny little gal beckoned me over this morning. Isn’t she a beauty?