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Unhealthy plants need urgent visual inspection

Q: Many of my plants have white semi-fuzzy spots on them. Mildew or fungus but it’s definitely spreading. How should I treat this to eradicate the problem? I don’t want to affect my neighbors’ gardens. I’m attaching a few images to help determine what’s up. – S.B., Albuquerque

A: Of the images that you attached, two have me very concerned. One shows what I believe to be photinia leaves nearly completely covered with gray-white fuzz of sorts. I feel confident that that is a powdery mildew as you suspect.

Second image showed a trunk with several leaves at the bottom (sort of) with what looks like white cottony masses hunkered down in the crotches where branches are attached. Almost looks fluffy. That could be a variety of scale called appropriately “Cottony Cushion Scale.” If you disturb that cotton mass you just might find wee creepy critters living among the cotton. It’s goopy-yucky so don’t be flinging it around!

The third image to me looked like paint splatter (sorry) and I won’t hazard a guess what all those freckles are.

So your plants are in need, desperately, of a closer visual inspection. What I suggest is collect samples, cut off pieces of your various maladies, place them in a sealable Ziploc bag and get them to a nursery for identification.

Now don’t gather your pieces, set them on the counter and days later toddle off to the get them ID’ed. You want to offer the freshest samples for your nurseryman to ID. I suggest Ziplocs because you don’t want to possibly infect plantlife at the nursery so keep everything you plan on taking securely contained. Please!

Consider cautioning your nurseryman that you come bearing samples before opening anything so they are forewarned and will be able to take appropriate “housekeeping” steps.

In other words, be considerate and don’t spread it around!

Having had the maladies properly diagnosed you’ll be guided to the proper treatments. Be it a fungicide and/or pesticide I want you to promise me that you WILL read the product label and follow application instructions to the letter. The health of you plantlife is at stake and needing your attention desperately. How it’s determined you need to treat, with consistency and continued maintenance, you should be able to bring your plantlife back to health. Good Luck!

Q: What is the mixture recipe for Hummingbird Nectar? Like you, although I’ve never had one, I’m hanging a feeder out today, too! A.H., West Side Albuquerque

A: Ah, Tax Day… Ughh! So the reward is attracting feathered jewels into your space to take the sting out of the day!

The recipe is easy. It’s a mixture of one part sugar to four parts water. Know, too, that you NEVER, NEVER, EVER use honey as the “sugar” part. It turns too quickly and becomes a bacterial mess that’ll harm your hummers.

On that note, I received several letters about favorite feeders and the care and tending of them. For years I’d always used the glass “vinegar bottle” that screwed into a four-port feeder base and was content. They sometimes were a “P-I-A” to clean but you do what you have to.

Last year for my treat I went to the bird store on Montgomery NE and was acquainted with my absolute new favorite feeder. It’s made of easy-to-clean red plastic and comes apart easily in two pieces. When assembled it looks like a flying saucer with a skinny brass pole extending upward from the middle.

Where I hang my feeder it’s rather a wind tunnel and I have never seen it being bobbled about, spilling nectar on my patio. I love this feeder! Most importantly, my hummers do, too!

So whatever feeder you choose, remember it’s a commitment that you’re making to these flying jewels! Once you’ve attracted them, you get to continue through mid to late October without fail!

Need tips on growing your garden? Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send your garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103, or to




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