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I have a white powder-like substance on my kiwi tree. It always appears overnight and some leaves look like they were burned. I have washed the leaves several times, but it always comes back. What would be causing it? How can I help my tree?

I live in UK. The day temperatures are on average 12 °C, and the nights are 6 °C. I don't think this is caused by cold weather though.

Update 15/04/2017: The plant was put in standard soil mixed with standard compost, and a few drops of Baby Bio Citrus Food fertilizer, and wintered over in the garden. Four to five weeks ago I added two handfuls of GRO_SURE Farmyard Manure, and two weeks ago I added roughly one tablespoon of Vitax Q4 Fertilizer. Otherwise I haven't done anything else to the soil.

The bark chips were put on the top two weeks ago, they are J.Arthur Bower's Chips. I removed them yesterday (14/04/2017) and I have seen a little bit less of the white substance on the leaves, but the base of the plant has more.

Update 16/04/2017: Added some macro images. I put the same bark chips on my apple tree, plum tree and gooseberry at the same time, but I haven't seen the same issue on those yet.

Click on all pictures for closer views.

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Update 20/04/2017:

Two days ago I soaked the plant in a mixture of neem, water and washing up liquid, but it looks like there has been no effect on the plant. It looks worse.

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  • Is there anything on the underside of the leaves, like eggs or deposits of any sort - you might need a magnifying glass to check – Bamboo Apr 14 '17 at 17:31
  • Maybe i have overlooked but i couldn't see any... – vidriduch Apr 14 '17 at 17:52
  • What plant is it precisely, is it actually a kiwi or something else? How long have you had it? Powdery mildew in the UK at this time of year is unheard of...looks more like another fungal problem because of the black edging to the leaves coupled with the white fuzz – Bamboo Apr 14 '17 at 17:56
  • Hardy Kiwi or Kiwi Issay – vidriduch Apr 14 '17 at 20:50
  • Love your quick reply and taking bark off! I looked your fertilizer up and amazingly this product actually tells you to not add compost of any kind. Quite confusing on the formulation, sort of at least two different declarations for NPK content and micro nutrients. Compost adds an awful lot of nitrogen...depending on the age of your compost and whether it was decomposed fully or not. Just a little TOO MUCH and that could be what we are seeing. The white is a mystery, right now. Over fertilized plants are actually made more susceptible to disease and insect infestation. – stormy Apr 15 '17 at 20:31
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I don't think this is powdery mildew - its appearance isn't right and though these particular plants are prone to American Gooseberry mildew, it doesn't look like that either. Those thick, white deposits suggest scale, yet there are no obvious scales present. The blackening round the edges of the leaves, known as leaf scorch, is caused by sudden colder temperatures or colder winds - given the weather conditions and the way they've changed dramatically in the last week, it's not surprising its displaying leaf scorch.

You could try the milk treatment to see if this responds to it - mix up cow's milk and water in a sprayer, 1 or 3 parts milk to 9 or 7 parts water, whichever you fancy trying, all are said to work on powdery mildew. If it doesn't respond (and I suspect it won't) keep a check on it for other evidence to suggest scale infection of some sort. Alternatively, I'd be inclined to prune that growth out and bin it, not compost it - you have other buds about to break and there is already some other growth sprouting lower down which does not seem to be affected.

UPDATE

Forget cutting out affected shoots, there are too many of them now you've posted new photos. First thing to say is the Gro Sure Manure you used is NOT intended for use in pots, it's a soil conditioner for use in open ground. It's possible a pathogen has been introduced to the soil and the plant by using it - the Vitax isn't an issue, but bark chips in pots can occasionally cause problems.

I'd treat for scale, and I'd risk using Bug Clear Ultra -the plant is nowhere near flowering yet, and certainly not going to produce fruit for 6 weeks - other spray treatments are listed here, along with more information regarding scale insect generally https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=224. This may not be effective though - that blackening that's appearing indicates some other problem and it may be related with the use of the manure product, perhaps a fungal infection which may be causing both the blackening and the white mould like growth.

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It might be mealy bugs or much less likely, white fly damage. White flies sometimes leave a white powdery substance on the underside of leaves (but it looks different and is on the underside); more likely mealy bugs, if either.

It doesn't look like powdery mildew to me, with it affecting the edges of the leaves and being so concentrated (and what Bamboo said).

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This looks like what is sort of generically called "powdery mildew". It is common and can affect different plants in different ways. Here is a webpage I found that describes it and offers some solutions: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/powdery-mildew/

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Two problems; possible over fertilization and a soft scale insect infestation. High salts and too much fertilizer show margins and tips as brown or browning. The scale must be enjoying the extra nutrients from the damaged edges (?).

This is definitely not powdery mildew. That is always shown over the entire leaf, spotty but not just the margins.

Is there a way to get a magnified view of that white stuff? Could you get a magnifying glass and describe the best you are able? Please give details about what you have done for fertilizer, what type of soil you are using and its formulation on the package...I am assuming you used potting soil, I hope so. I'd also get rid of the bark chips on top. They are not sterilized and could be a source of insects and will mess with your fertilizer. Check to see if your potting soil came with fertilizer as well, please.

Thank you for the additional very NICE pictures. It is scale; one of the soft scales. Cottony Maple scale or even Mealy Bug scale. You've been washing the leaves, yes? Was that black all over the leaves at one point? The black on the margins could be honey dew, rather 'infected' honey dew where bacteria are causing the shiny honey dew (excrement of scale) to blacken. Or you might have also over fertilized and that would make your plant more susceptible as well as accounting for the blackened margins where the extra fertilizer is being enjoyed by these insects.

I am not sure how large your plant is so there are a number of ways to approach this problem. My favorite since you have already been washing this plant and the infestation is going strong would be the use of NEEM. If your plant is out doors wait until dark and spray your plant heavily, until it is dripping. Get the undersides of the leaves as well. Wear gloves. NEEM is considered a 'safe' ISH pesticide and 'organic' but you'll smell that it ain't ivory soap.

If your tree is small enough, I like using a dunk of NEEM. Mix the correct amount in a big 5 gallon bucket using 3 or 4 gallons of water. Hard to tell how big your pot is but if it is smaller than a paper plate, using a paper plate that you've cut one line down the radius to the center, slip the plate around your plant upside down of course. Then holding the plate with one hand firmly to your pot to prevent the soil from falling out, lift the pot and plant up, flip over and gently immerse the entire plant into the batch of water and NEEM. Careful with the very tip, try not to break the tip. Then gently 'swish' your plant around in the bucket. I'd try to keep the plant in the solution for a few minutes.

Take your plant out and turn upright again. Allow to drip onto the top of the soil in your pot. Wash patio off with a hose. Wash your hands, arms and face. If you do the spray, make sure you wash up after that as well.

MOST IMPORTANTLY...read that label very closely. Measure carefully. Follow those directions. It is probably the best of the 'organic and safe' pesticides for effectiveness. They say on some labels, different 'brands' that this is safe for bees but I do not take chances! A bee gets sprayed by this he takes it back to the hive and bees are not as healthy and vigorous as they once were. Killing bees is really dumb of us humans!

I would probably gently scrape the scale off the bark but not the leaves before spraying. You will probably need to do this at least once more within a few weeks. This is a good time of year to attack your scale. That cottony stuff is a protectant and if scale is allowed to get too thick the efficacy of the NEEM is severely reduced.

Next, the soil. You probably got your scale from the bark chips. Potting soil is sterilized. But now your soil is full of immatures and eggs. I would repot into fresh new potting soil and bag that soil, or dump the old soil into that bucket of NEEM before disposing of the NEEM according to directions.

  • Hi, I have updated my question with some extra info you have requested. I'm fairly green in this field som I'm not sure in some details. Thank you! – vidriduch Apr 15 '17 at 19:32
  • Sorry for the long answer, I am bad about condensed versions. And of course I thought of a few more details such as; take a look at your other plants in the yard for this scale. The more I look at your pictures the more I think 'Cottony Maple scale'...looks like 'popcorn' is a common description of this scale. But there are differences between eggs, immature scale, females and males. I won't try for an absolute ID. I need it in my hands with an entomologist expert at my elbow, grins! There will be more answers and comments from my colleagues perhaps better treatments. – stormy Apr 16 '17 at 18:32
  • Thank you very much. I will try the treatment in a few days and update the question. – vidriduch Apr 16 '17 at 19:42
  • I've tried the neem, but it look like with no luck. I'm considering cutting all affected parts and replacing the soil. Hope the plant will live... – vidriduch Apr 20 '17 at 17:38

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