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Remedies for mildew growth & contamination: How do we get rid of, clean off, and prevent future growth of mildew? As we discuss in this article, mildew, a sub-class of molds, is an obligate parasite that grows only on living plants, and is generally white in appearance. Our page top photograph shows mildew growing on a jasmine plant at a Vassar College home in Poughkeepsie, New York. More photographs of mildew are included in this article.
This article explains the clean-up or clean off of mildew, how to get rid of mildew, and how to prevent mildew growth on house plants and in home gardens.
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Mildew: Mildew is a proper subset of the broader mold family. It is a plant parasite.
Both smuts and mildews are parasites of living plants (in mycological terms these are obligate biotrophic pathogens) that cause serious crop damage as well as damage to ornamental shrubs, flowers, etc. See Kiss et als inour references section for an example of mildew damage to tomatoes.
At left, a lab photo of mildew spores collected from the jasmine plant at page top.
To understand our comment that mildew does not grow in or on buildings, notice our use of the words obligate biotrophic pathogens - meaning that these fungi are pathogens that grow only on living plants and that they cause a disease in the plant.
If you see mildew growth on dead plant leaves, it surely developed while the plant leaf was alive (and damp or wet and perhaps shaded).
If your "mildew" is found on building surfaces, it is mold, but it is not mildew, and you need to follow normal mold cleanup procedures.
See BASICS YOU NEED to FIND, TEST, REMOVE MOLD for a detailed step by step guide to removing problem mold and for identifying and fixing the cause of mold growth in the first place.
If you are having trouble tracking down a moldy smell in your building, try the suggestions we describe
If your mildew is indeed growing on a living plant (tomatoes, grapes, crops, house plants, other plants) it can weaken or even kill the plant, at least by interfering with photosynthesis. Mildews on plants may be a species of mildew fungus that is plant specific.
For example a mildew that grows on grapes may affect only those plants and may not infect nearby plants of other types, roses for example. But the conditions that cause powdery mildew to grow on plants invite infection of many plants in a given area.
These include crowding (poor air circulation within or around the plant), and dampness or high humidity. If a plant is already stressed or weak from other conditions, it may be more susceptible to mildew infection as well.
While lots of "mildew cleaning" products are sold with the intention of removing mold from building surfaces (bathtub tile grout, for example), do not use such products on plants - you will probably kill the plant.
You will probably need to move the plant outside when weather permits, so that the plant can be cleaned and treated with a plant mildewcide or fungicide. Treat the plant with a garden mildewcide intended for that purpose. If your plant is producing edible fruits or vegetables, be sure to choose and follow the instructions on a mildewcide approved for use on edible plants. More detail on curing mildew follows.
Most experts advise cutting away all mildew-infected parts of the plant; If the plant is almost entirely covered with mildew, it may be lost, and/or it may not survive extreme pruning. We had success with the mildew-infected jasmine shown at the top of this page by the following few steps.
(Our focus in this article is on house and home garden plants, and on building mold and mold problems, not on agricultural applications).
Other Steps to Cure or Prevent Mildew on Plants
Continue reading at MILDEW ERRORS, IT's MOLD or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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