Commonly known as firethorn, Pyracantha is a genus of about seven species of trees and shrubs growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9. Firethorn is susceptible to the fungal diseases sooty mold and powdery mildew. Sooty mold occurs when honeydew-secreting insects -- such as aphids and mites -- infest the firethorn, covering the plant with the sticky substance. Thankfully, sooty mold is rarely a serious problem and requires controlling the honeydew-secreting insects. Powdery mildew, on the other hand, is a more serious fungal disease that causes infected plants to experience distorted and wilted, dropped leaves and stunted growth. Sooty mold leaves a black soot-like growth covering the foliage, buds and stems of the firethorn; powdery mildew creates a white cottony growth on the plant. Once you have identified the fungal disease, treat it accordingly and take the necessary preventive measures to keep the problem from returning.
1. Sooty Mold
1 Pour 1 gallon of water in a clean handheld garden sprayer. Add 1 ounce of neem oil concentrate and mix for several seconds.
2. Sooty Mold
2 Spray the firethorn with the neem oil, making sure to coat the undersides and tops of the leaves. Shake the handheld garden sprayer periodically while applying the pesticide.
3. Sooty Mold
3 Repeat the treatment with a fresh solution once every seven to 14 days until the honey-secreting insects are controlled.
4. Sooty Mold
4 Spray the firethorn plant with a hose to wash off the sooty mold.
5. Powdery Mildew
1 Pour 2 tablespoons of neem oil concentrate and 1 gallon of water in a garden sprayer. Shake the sprayer for several seconds until the neem oil and water are well mixed.
6. Powdery Mildew
2 Spray the firethorn with the solution thoroughly, making sure to cover the tops and undersides of the leaves.
7. Powdery Mildew
3 Reapply the fungicide every seven to 14 days, as needed, with a fresh mixture.
Items you will need
- Handheld garden sprayer
- Neem oil concentrate
- Read and follow the instructions on the pesticide label for best results.
- Never apply pesticides on a day when temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, or when plants are water stressed.
- Fine Gardening: Genus Pyracantha (Firethorn)
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Sooty Mold
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Powdery Mildew
- Southern Ag: Triple Action Neem Oil Label
- Biconet: 70% Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide/Insecticide/Miticide Label
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