Dried flowers can add beauty to your home in an elegant vase or as a decorative wreath. Like their living brothers, dried flowers are not immune to pests and diseases and can become infected with powdery mildew. This mildew may not harm the already dead flowers, but it is unsightly and can cause people to toss once-beautiful flowers in the trash.
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What is Powdery Mildew?
Powdery mildew is one of the most common diseases that affects a wide array of plants. It is also one of the oldest plant diseases, dating back to 300 B.C. Powdery mildew does not require water or damp conditions to live and thrive, and is known to grow on dried leaves and flowers. A fungus causes the mildew and each type of plant is infected by a different species of the fungus that causes the white or gray powdery mildew to grow.
Getting Rid Of Powdery Mildew
To discourage the growth of powdery mildew, use sulfur dust on the dried flowers. Sulfur dust can be purchased at most garden centers and home improvement stores. Read all warnings and directions that are printed on the label of the sulfur dust. Pour some sulfur dust into a small dish and, while using a small brush, lightly dust the petals and stems of the dried flowers with the sulfur dust. Wear gloves and protective eye wear when using sulfur dust. Sulfur has a low oral toxicity rate but it can be quite irritating to skin and eyes. Sulfur disrupts the metabolic process of fungi and insect pests and has a low toxicity to humans and animals, making it a good way to get rid of powdery mildew as well as mites, rust and various other plant pests.
Cleaning Dried Flowers
Clean dried flowers regularly to discourage the growth of mildew, dust and other pests. Dried flowers can become delicate over time, making them easy to ruin. Care should be taken when handling the dried flowers. Use a hair dryer on the lowest setting to blast away any dust that has collected on the flowers. You can also use canned air, like the products used to clean computer keyboards, to remove dust.
Another way to keep the dried flowers clean is with salt. Start by pouring table salt into a bag and lay the flowers inside the bag. Pour more table salt on top of the flowers and gently shake the bag. The salt will lightly "scrub" the dust and dirt off the dried flowers. Once the flowers are removed from the bag, use a toothbrush or cotton swab to brush away any salt that may be clinging to the flowers.