When I planted the honeysuckle on each side of the arbor entrance into Max’s Garden in 2006, I chose Lonicera x. brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ because of its beautiful blooms. Multiple skinny trumpet tubes of reddish-orange covered the fast-growing vines in spring, then summer, and not only did I love them, the hummingbirds did, too.
But by mid-summer, the plants started to show signs of powdery mildew. This fungus develops usually when the weather is hot and dry and/or air circulation around the plant isn’t sufficient. This particular honeysuckle (and several others) are susceptible to powdery mildew, but I didn’t know that when I purchased them. I likely would have ignored that warning anyway. “It won’t happen to me,” was the kind of idealistic gardener I was. (Still am, truth be told!)
By the end of August last year, I was tired of dealing with the ugliness that powdery mildew brought upon my honeysuckle, so I intended to dig both plants out and replace them with ‘Major Wheeler,” a variety that is resistant to the fungus. I cut both vines down to a height of about 18 inches and vowed to dig them out in the spring.
Spring came and the two ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ honeysuckles slated for removal were growing like gangbusters. The foliage looked as healthy as ever and I was convinced that maybe this year would be different. I let it grow.
But last week, in spite of not having conditions conducive to powdery mildew, I saw signs of it beginning. Oh why did I think this year would be different?
But wait… Maybe it will be.
Bioworks® sent me one of their products to try. I’d told them about my problem with powdery mildew on my honeysuckle and we both thought it would be a good test of MilStop®, a foliar fungicide containing potassium bicarbonate.
I mixed it up – 1 Tablespoon of the powder to 1 gallon of water – and sprayed it on. I’m to do this once a week during the growing season.I used it on other plants I've got that tend to have a problem with powdery mildew, too: Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Monarda, and Pulmonaria.
We'll see how it goes!