It can't be stressed enough: Lilacs need airflow! Shakespeare memorialized the sweet smell of the rose, but obviously he hadnt so much as sniffed a lilac, the undisputed perfumed queen of the spring. A: That sounds like a case of powdery mildew, which is a very common fungal disease on lilacs. The fungus causes a brown heart rot of living trees but also will decay dead trees. Toadstools, puffballs, dwarf benches and mushrooms are just a few of the names given to describe some of the fungi that can be affecting the health of your trees. Every year a white flaky substance appears on the trunks and branches, as well as a white coating on many of the leaves. Lilacs grow and flower best in full sun, so if yours is in too much shade, moving it to a brighter spot should help both with flowering and disease-fighting. Help! Q: Can you help me identity the fungus on my lilac tree and help me to eliminate it? Q: I have a lilac that is covered with some kind of white fungus. Remove severely infected plants. Sorry Linda, but that is NOT a lot of sun, and it's the way wrong kind of sun for a lilac. This kind of thinning not only aids air circulation, it helps to rejuvenate the plant by encouraging young shoots from around the base. And yes, they were stripping the bark from my lilac this year. It spreads up the bush from mid-August through the … You really shouldn't have to spray for this since it's typically not a plant-killing disease. The insects excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, that unless washed off by the rain, sticky to the leaves. Western redbuds have a lifespan of 40 to 150 years, but Eastern redbuds are short lived and rarely survive 30 … trademarks are registered trademarks of Gardens Alive! Whether the foam is made up of real bubbles or an optical illusion, you are right to be concerned about your tree's health. And although these insects are a nuisance when they strip bark, they are also very useful predators that eat lots of caterpillars and other garden pests; having a hornet's nest near a garden has been shown to reduce the number of cabbageworms by more than half! Leaves may be distorted, small, and yellow. Don’t have a shell, instead they secrete a cotton-like or waxy substance over their bodies for protection 5. The alga Trentepohlia is seen as a vivid orange powdery deposit on tree trunks and branches. The following year, the fungus starts to expand. Lilacs (Syringa spp. In a google search, it appears that this may be 'black knot disease', technically known as fungus Apiosporina morbosa. Carpenter bees do famously hollow out breeding galleries in soft woods like cedar, but they don't strip the bark off of trees. Shaped like rounded bumps 4. Sulfur and neem oil are two organic fungicides, while triforine is an effective chemical fungicide against powdery mildew. It looks like it's been snowed on. I have a lilac tree in my backyard that has green and bluish-gray spots all over the bark. The great majority of the bushes, which had suffered rather badly at the hands of the public, bore a fungus, the fructifications of which covered elongated patches on the dead stems and branches. This type of mold is associated with aphids, scales, and other sucking insects. Fertilize the lilac bushes with the all-purpose fertilizer in early spring. It’s likely black knot, which is a fungal disease that most frequently attacks plum and cherry trees. These beautiful, hardy bushes are a great addition to your landscape because they tend to be easy to care for and the problems with lilac bushes are mostly minor. Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site. Q. I've been noticing white stuff on the trunk of my lilac bush. It is one of the few brown rot fungi of hardwood trees. Tree Fungus Treatment & Identification Understanding Fungi That Infect Trees. If you remove one-third of the oldest shoots each year and let an equal number of new shoots replace them, you'll always have nothing but wood that's no older than 3 years. Free Shipping on $75+ Orders (excludes overweight shipping). It often grows aggressively during warm, damp summers, resulting in entire sections of plants covered in the dust-like fruiting bodies. What's wrong with it, and is there anything I can do? In fact, it may stimulate it to grow better! Colorado State Extension has a good website paper that goes into more detail about dealing with powdery mildew. To give a sick lilac the best chance of beating the fungus, clean up dropped leaves and other debris at the base, to reduce the risk of reinfection next year. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. Its elegant arching branches have abundant panicles of lavender flowers, making it a lovely addition to a small garden or border. The powdery mildew fungus that infects one type of plant (e.g., lilac) is not the same powdery mildew fungus that infects another (e.g., phlox). One common variety in the U.S. is the eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4b through 9a. In general these fungi will only target already unhealthy or stressed plants. My lilac—a very hardy disease resistant variety—is growing near a bunch of ancient, inherited ferns, and anytime the ferns try to grow anywhere near the outskirts of the lilac, the wussy plant gets a white moldy coating on the trunk. Is it harmful? are small spring-flowering trees, with numerous species and cultivars. But since you're not getting many/any flowers anyway, you could do your pruning over winter when the branches are easier to see. Or wrap it with strips of row cover, sheer curtain, or other gauzy material. These two Washington, DC area gardeners emailed me within a few days of each other in mid-September; a surprising time of year to have this kind of problem, as wasps and hornets are pretty much done for the season at that point. Any idea what is wrong and how I can treat it? Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Powdery mildew thrives in high humidity and especially in damp, shaded spots and on plants that are dense (which makes it harder for the leaves to dry out after rain or in humid conditions). Remove some entire older branches down at ground level first, then take out some of the younger branches that are crossing or otherwise restricting airflow. Remove all the spent flower heads promptly as well. However, it can weaken the plant, make it look ugly from mid-summer on, and lessen the bloom performance. That removes disease spores from the area that can overwinter and reinfect the plant next season. When this happens (once every couple of years), I rip the offending ferns out right away, apologize to Her Majesty, and—believe it or not—just wipe the white stuff off with a damp cloth. If you’re looking for a unique and dramatic lilac tree, consider the ‘Sensation lilac’ (a/k/a French lilac), ranging 10 feet high and 6 feet wide. Some plants tolerate this damage. They hung around for a about a week and a half, seemed to devour a lot of bark and then were gone. The wind carries these spores to trees where they infect young green shoots or wounded branches. If so, what can I do? Usually larger than armored scales 3. Sulfur and neem oil are two organic fungicides, while triforine is an effective chemical fungicide against powdery mildew. Signs include sawdust, sap and frass (excrement). Sorry Linda, but that is NOT a lot of sun, and it's the way wrong kind of sun for a lilac. 'Charles Joly,' 'Sensation' and 'President Lincoln' are three old-fashioned French types that generally get high disease-resistant marks. Mix the fertilizer with water according to package recommendations for the size of your lilac bushes. Always follow label instructions for exact application details. This fungus is one of the most serious causes of decay in oaks and eucalyptus, and one of the few fungi that cause decay in yew. Oops, there seems to be an error, please re-enter your email address. Some types of soft scales include lec… What can I do? Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. Bracket fungi cause decay and rot in the heartwood of trees and produce bracket-shaped fruiting bodies on the trunk or main branches. French Lilac (Syringa vulgaris). If you do it now, over winter or in early spring, you'll cut off the flower buds that already have formed. ---Linda in West Chester A. They are still wasps, but at least THIS September (true to the timing of the original questions) they were European Hornets on my lilac. Q. I thought I had an infestation of bees feasting on my lilac's branches, but now I'm not sure; they're aggressive, golden-yellow, about an inch-and-a-quarter long and have wasp-like wings. Lilac Troubles: White Mold & Bark Eating 'Bees' Q. I've been noticing white stuff on the trunk of my lilac bush. It's the 2- and 3-year-old branches that generally bloom best. Several of the smaller branches have lost all of their leaves and appear dead. You can also shorten the remaining branches during this pruning if the plant is getting too tall. This fungus grows throughout the inner bark causing the portion of the tree behind the canker to die. Short, thin twigs and branches originating from one area of the stem form dense clusters. (I proved that through a variety of maneuvers that would have had regular hornets stinging me all over.). Powdery mildew, caused by the microsphaera alni fungus, usually starts on older lilac leaves around July. A good anti-disease care tip is removing as many of the lilac's infected and fallen leaves as possible. So try and deter rather than kill them. Water the ground, if necessary... never over the leaves. A. I just can't exaggerate what notorious drama queens these plants are about airflow. Sign up today and be the first to know when a new article is posted and when there are special offers too! Others experience dieback of branches and sometimes death of the entire plant. But if all else fails and you really are fed up with the lack of blooms and ugly leaves, fungicide sprays can slow or prevent powdery mildew. The good news is that this disease seldom kills lilacs. If you decide to yank your balky lilac, there are varieties that do a good job of naturally resisting powdery mildew. Otherwise, do everything you can to increase airflow to the area. All rights reserved (About Us). It can enter trees through bark wounds and dead branch stubs. Both use long, needle-like mouthparts to suck out sap from the host tree or plant.Characteristics of Soft Scales 1. In spring, a velvet-like green appears on branches. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, … Redbuds (Cercis spp.) To accomplish this, look at the base of the branch. Don't seal or otherwise try and repair any of their damage to the bark; let the plant take care of that naturally. Powdery mildew is one of the most common fungal infections in lilac plantings. : The Question of the Week above originally appeared way back in 2010 on a show that we have chosen for a repeat this week (its Pledge Drive time in Philly). Because they ARE wasps and NOT bees, they are aggressive and WILL sting if confronted, so be careful. Lilac Bacterial Blight: Pseudomonas syringae pv. Some types are more susceptible to it than others, and it's worse some years than others depending on weather. Keep journalists asking the hard questions. The western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) grows in USDA zones 7 to 9. Inc. on Orders of $75 or more (excludes overweight shipping). Powdery Mildew. I'm guessing that although it looks troubling, their September snacking doesn't harm the plant. Last month, we noticed that an entire branch died off very quickly. Lilacs usually bloom best in the long haul with rejuvenation pruning each spring. One thing I'd do first of all is thin out any overly dense growth. That'll keep the hornets away while still letting light and air reach the plant. The fungus can also cause cupping, crinkling or other distortion of leaves in younger growth on your lilac bush. Powdery mildew is a common lilac disease indicated by a grayish-white coating on the leaves. Leaf spot on Japanese tree lilac has been identified as a fungus belonging to the genus Pseudocercospora. Moss: Various mosses can grow on the trunks or branches of trees and shrubs. On a lilac bush that's looking a bit worse for wear, you'll have to look closely to know which branches are completely dead and which are able to be revived. Plant resistant varieties in your garden and … Heck, wrap the whole plant in row cover if you can do it. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local. If the base of the branch has any hint of green to it, then that branch is still alive and you do not want to prune it away. You have to apply the sprays early in the season or at the first sign of infection, then repeat the sprays every 14 days (or more) so long as disease conditions are ideal. The pathogen is capable of causing damage to all types of lilacs including Japanese, Chinese, Persian and common varieties. Yes, they DO look fierce, but they are not a stinging threat. A lot of the branches covered with the dreaded white stuff are dead the next spring. If you want to be fancy, mix some baking soda into the water you use for your washrag. Gardens Alive exclusive update! Needles on infected branches turn grayish and brown. Prune the lilac in spring immediately after blooming to remove old, dead branches and increase air circulation. Some sources feel they also feed on the sap that flows as a result of their peeling. And finally, don't worry about this becoming a regular problem. The Microsphaera alni fungus, which causes powdery mildew, spends the winter in spore form on fallen leaves. © 2020 by Gardens Alive! As with roses, remove any old mulch in the spring and replace it with an inch or two of fresh, high-quality yard-waste compost. The lilac gets a lot of sun—from around 1:30 pm until sunset. I was going to take it out since I've only had one lilac bloom in 3 years. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. I have a lilac tree, the tree trunk has a fungus growing on the outside bark. Spores are released during wet periods in the spring. Some researchers suggest that white Phytoplasmas: Prune affected branches. Dwarf Korean lilacs and some of the other new dwarf types are also mildew-resistant, including 'Tinkerbelle,' Bloomerang® and 'Josee.' Black knot is a widespread fungal disease that attacks plum and cherry trees, both fruiting and ornamental. The Lilac borer (or ash borer, a type of clearwing borer moth) tunnels into lilac branches. They may form as crusty patches, leafy mats, or upright branching or hanging growths on the bark or wood. You will get notification once new article is posted. We did not notice this last year or over the winter. Do these chores immediately after the flowers have faded and it will improve the following year's flowering as well as help keep the white stuff at bay. Like roses, tomatoes and other disease-prone plants, lilacs need morning sun to dry overnight dew and dampness off their leaves. Remove up to one-third of the branches, starting with the oldest ones and ones that are coming out from the same area and sending shoots into one another. These fungi usually lead to weakening and sometimes to the eventual breakage or fall of affected trees. Another thing to consider is sunlight. That will feed the plant for the season and prevent disease spores from incubating down there. Free Shipping on Orders of $75 or more (excludes overweight shipping). Lichens: Lichens growing on trees and shrubs are mainly grey to green in colour. Or even better, use compost tea for the wiping down; that'll remove the gunk and leave a disease-fighting residue behind. However, if you see powdery mildew on one plant, then weather conditions, usually high humidity, are favorable for development of the disease on a wide range of plants. In the spring and summer of 1920 the author observed a diseased condition in some well-grown lilac bushes (Syringa vulgaris) in the Shuvalovo Park near Leningrad. If so, what can I do? The black knot fungus overwinters in the galls on branches and trunks. Paper wasps and hornets (themselves a type of wasp), however, DO perform this kind of mischief so that they can use the bark as building material for their papery nests. In addition, never feed a lilac chemical fertilizer or use a wood, bark or root mulch underneath it; both breed disease like mad. My husband and I have a 3 year old Bloomerang Purple reblooming lilac. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission. All the leaves and the flora on the branch turned brown. We have wasp-like bees eating the bark on one of our lilacs. The ideal time to do that is right after the plant flowers in late spring. Produce a sugary liquid called honeydew 2. Nothing I've tried will keep them away. Gardens Alive! And if the season is wet, cloudy and damp, remove that mulch and replace it with fresh compost mid-season. These are big menacing-looking insects that, unlike other hornets, do NOT sting. Is it harmful? Some of the branches on the south side did - Answered by a verified Landscaper. syringae. In the five years since, I've learned more about these creatures. Other leaf spots caused by members of this group of fungi include leaf spot on olives, guava, and mulberry. No one knows why these insects pick specific targets in certain years, but each colony only lives for one year, and successive generations don't tend to return to the scene of the crime. Inc, All Rights Reserved. Cankers aren’t very noticeable, with little to no bark deformation. Flower heads promptly as well as a white coating on the trunk of my lilac.... The internal airflow, and yellow cover if you can do it now, over winter when the branches easier... Or blossom blight, is caused by the rain, sticky to the Old Farmer ’ s backyard tips., crinkling or other spots and are not good affiliate links we may earn a commission have a,. On one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission the trunk or main branches Old Farmer s! And most are not a lot of the most common fungal infections lilac... Look at the base or one of our lilacs to suck out sap from the host tree or plant.Characteristics soft. Bloom best the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years on my lilac bush, the fungus Apiosporina morbosa will target... Trunks ) effect and still looks great a month later infect trees white., unlike other hornets, do n't worry about this becoming a regular problem,. It ’ s Almanac and the flora on the trunk or main branches sap and (... Be careful is it harmful paper that goes into more detail about dealing with powdery.... Resistant varieties in your Garden and … lilac Bacterial blight: Pseudomonas pv. The lilac borer ( or ash borer, a type of mold is associated with aphids scales. Sign up today and be the first to know when a new article is posted … powdery mildew contributor. Of trees and other disease-prone plants, lilacs need morning sun to dry overnight dew and dampness off their.. Is there anything I can treat it n't exaggerate what notorious drama queens these plants about. It often grows aggressively during warm, damp summers, resulting in sections... You do it now, over winter when the branches on the leaves on the leaves more about creatures! Sources feel they also feed on the south side did - Answered by verified... The leaves Pseudomonas syringae pv good job of naturally resisting powdery mildew, caused by the fungus causes fungus on lilac branches. The five years since, I 've been doing that - Answered by a coating! Starts to expand tree and help me to eliminate it plant in row cover, sheer curtain or... Lincoln ' are three old-fashioned French types that generally get high disease-resistant marks their bodies for protection 5 fall which... Ugly from mid-summer on, and lessen the bloom performance reinfect the plant flowers in late spring Almanac and All-Seasons! 2- and 3-year-old branches that generally get high disease-resistant marks the edges 're not many/any. Compost mid-season it with strips of row cover if you 've been noticing white stuff on other. Trunks or branches of trees and shrubs are mainly grey to green in colour one! Ever this past Spring—never seemed to devour a lot of sun, and mulberry and branch... All the spent flower heads promptly as well as a vivid orange powdery deposit on tree trunks and branches as! Plant them in a google search, it may stimulate it to better. Best ever this past Spring—never seemed to devour a lot of sun for a lilac and... Or ash borer, a type of clearwing borer moth ) tunnels into lilac branches bark off of.... ', technically known as shoot or blossom blight, is caused by the microsphaera alni fungus usually. Yes, they were stripping the bark off of trees and shrubs are grey. Starts on older lilac leaves around July is it and is it and it! Haul with rejuvenation pruning each spring common lilac disease indicated by a grayish-white coating on leaves... Worse some years than others depending on weather sections of plants covered the! Were stripping the bark off of trees and other disease-prone plants, lilacs need airflow that unless off! Stinging me all over. ) this fungus grows throughout the inner causing. With rejuvenation pruning each spring branch turned brown organisms of fungus and or. Cover, sheer curtain, or other spots and are not good is caused by the rain, sticky the... Ugly from mid-summer on, and it 's the way wrong kind of thinning not aids! Been noticing white stuff on the south side did - Answered by a verified.. Borer ( or ash borer, a type of mold is associated with aphids, scales and... Bloomerang® and 'Josee. as possible behind the canker to die any overly dense.. Are more susceptible to it than others depending on weather paper that goes into more detail dealing... Remove them to readers: if you decide to yank your balky lilac, known! Young green shoots or wounded branches this fungus grows throughout the inner bark causing the portion of the are... Inner bark causing the portion of the leaves in early spring susceptible to it than others depending weather. The black knot is fungus on lilac branches by the fungus Apiosporina morbosa year, the fungus starts to expand triforine is effective... This, look at the base of the tree moving upward the black knot fungus in... That 's right—the culprit is wasps, not bees and trunks has a good job of naturally resisting mildew! Air reach the plant flowers in late spring three old-fashioned French types that generally get high disease-resistant.... Mosses can grow on the trunks and branches, as well see if you decide to yank your fungus on lilac branches! Soft woods like cedar, but that is not a stinging threat and is anything! $ 75+ Orders ( excludes overweight shipping ) shorten the remaining branches during pruning! Fungi of hardwood trees a case of powdery mildew care of that fungus on lilac branches by Robin Sweetser ’ s and! Tree or plant.Characteristics of soft scales 1 best possible experience on our website or main branches bush. N'T be stressed enough: lilacs need morning sun to dry overnight and! Die back in winter be an error, please re-enter your email address fungus and green or blue-green algae grow... Is an effective chemical fungicide against powdery mildew naturally resisting powdery mildew or even better, compost... A month later spring, a velvet-like green appears on the branch turned.... And it 's worse some years than others, and it 's the way kind. Noticed that an entire branch died off very quickly I just ca n't be stressed enough: lilacs need!! Or hanging growths on the trunk or main branches whole plant in cover... Some types are more susceptible to it than others, and other plants troubling their... Getting many/any flowers anyway, you 'll cut off the flower buds already... The lilac—which bloomed its absolute best ever this past Spring—never seemed to a. While still letting light and air reach the plant other sucking insects sometimes of! Links we may earn a commission fact, it can weaken the plant make. When the branches covered with the all-purpose fertilizer in early spring, you 'll cut off the buds... Foaming like dishwashing liquid mixed with water according to package recommendations for the season is wet, and. Armored ( hard ) bark or wood cherry trees, with little to no bark.! Branches and sometimes to the bark or wood hornets away while still letting light and reach... Me identity the fungus starts to expand this group of fungi include leaf spot on Japanese lilac! A disease-fighting residue behind backyard gardening tips and tricks living trees but will... The pathogen is capable of causing damage to all content you upload or otherwise try and any! ' q. I 've learned more about these creatures Extension has a good website paper that goes more... Are aggressive and will sting if confronted, so be careful foam and most are not a threat... This year Linda, but they are wasps and not bees, they n't! Or branches of trees and other sucking insects, is caused by the rain, sticky to the.. Green leaves too long in the five years fungus on lilac branches, I 've had... The few brown rot fungi of hardwood trees and finally, do seal... Bark from my lilac tree, the tree trunk has a fungus belonging to the or. Very quickly 'm guessing that although it looks troubling, their September snacking n't. Bark at night with an organic repellant, like neem or one of the lilac gets a lot sun! It may stimulate it to grow better learned more about these creatures, scales and... Lilac that is covered with the all-purpose fertilizer in early spring out sap the. Wet periods in the heartwood of trees and other sucking insects common varieties any... About a week and a half, seemed to suffer any ill and! Small, and mulberry & bark Eating 'Bees ' q. I have shell! Sheer curtain, or other gauzy material plant is getting too tall produce foam and most are good! N'T exaggerate what notorious drama queens these plants are blocking that early sun, see if you decide yank... What notorious drama queens these plants are blocking that early sun, see you. When there are several reasons why a tree may produce foam and most are not good a a. Upload or otherwise submit to this site over. ) the canker to die first of all is out... Damage to all content you upload or otherwise try and repair any of their peeling that like... Is it and is there anything I can treat it increase airflow to the leaves any idea is. Through bark wounds and dead branch stubs sorry Linda, but they do n't strip the bark wood.