Wednesday, 3 March 2010

the downfall of the statice

I love my perennial statice (Limonium perezii) and I've spoken of them a few times.  I planted them almost exactly a year ago and they've been in bloom almost constantly ever since.  I've known from the beginning that they prefer full sun but their shady spot didn't seem to bother them, they've absolutely thrived.

Well.  Until now anyway.

A few weeks ago I noticed them slightly wilt.  I thought they needed water, which is a bit odd because they've never needed a drop of extra water.  Turns out they definitely didn't need water, they needed treatment for powdery mildew.  This is what they looked like at first, and what the one in the sunnier position still looks like:
The one in the shadier spot was looking much, much worse.
I'm familiar with powdery mildew on pumpkin and other vegetables but didn't realise it could hit perennials.  But a closer look under the leaves confirmed it.
In retrospect it's a perfect recipe for powdery mildew - shady, dense leaves, and when I took a look under the leaves there were layers and layers of dead leaves underneath.  Thick matted foliage like that keeps the air from circulating and encourages mold.

The plant in the shadier spot was so far gone that I took a punt and chopped all the leaves off - they were dying so quickly anyway. When it's that far along, fungicide sprays can only do so much.  So I hacked it back to this and doused the stumps in fungicide.  Let's hope its tough nature lets it bounce back.
The second plant I decided to cut out all the dead leaves, the flowers, and several handfuls of healthy leaves too.  Each leaf got a spray on top and bottom and I'm hoping it will fight back.

Even if they die, I've decided I'll replace them with statice.  Next year in the summer I'll be sure to cut out all the dead foliage and I'll try using a milk spray a few times in the summer.  Milk spray puts "good" critters on the leaves that don't leave room for "bad" mildew.  It won't work after the mildew sets in but it could head it off next year.